Amid the 2-0 defeat against Liverpool, Luke Shaw’s performance at centre-back got lost in the disappointment.

He did pretty well and kept Mo Salah quiet, with the Egyptian only scoring late after Shaw had been substituted.

Shaw got another chance in a back three last night away against Manchester City.

It was another unenvious task, playing in an unfamiliar position this time at The Etihad in a televised game where he was open to scrutiny, after Anfield.

This time Shaw helped to keep a clean sheet, with United winning 1-0 on the night.


(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

So what does this mean? Is it a temporary measure or a career reinvention?

First let’s look at the circumstances. Shaw is being selected because United are playing three at the back, and Axel Tuanzebe is injured.

Eric Bailly is yet to make his return from injury, left on the bench. It is to Shaw’s credit he was selected ahead of him last night, but you would assume the Ivorian overtakes him soon.

Aside from that, Marcos Rojo has left for Estudiantes, SkySports report, and Phil Jones has overstayed his Old Trafford welcome.

Even Bailly’s long-term future is not assured due to his injury prone nature, and there is a world where Tuanzebe could even be loaned out next season if United decide there are enough viable alternatives. That wouldn’t be ideal, but it’s plausible.

Shaw is for now, putting himself in the mix to start being considered as a viable option in a back three long-term, and not just as an emergency option as it seemed ahead of the Liverpool game.

Against City last night, Shaw made two interceptions, two clearances and one tackle, and was only taken off for a tactical reshuffle for Juan Mata, after Nemanja Matic was sent off.

(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

No longer first choice

The background to this is that Shaw has lost his place as United’s first choice left-back.

Brandon Williams has seized the opportunity given to him earlier in the season when Shaw was injured, and looks to be getting better all the time.

Williams offers United more going forward, and attacking has never been Shaw’s strong point. A tally of just eight assists since joining United illustrates that.

Importantly the new role gives Shaw a chance to prove his value. Goal report he earns a staggering £190,000 per week.

This is too expensive for a back-up left-back, and prompts United to consider whether he should be kept at the club, and a cheaper left-back alternative considered.

But if Shaw is providing value at centre-back too, as one of four or five players competing for a role in a back three, it gives United greater reason to keep him.

Perhaps we will look back in a year’s time and say ‘remember those two games Shaw played centre-back?’ with some bemusement. It may not be repeated, and he could end up reclaiming his spot on the left ahead of Williams.

There is also a chance this is the beginning of a new chapter in the 24-year-old’s career.

He deserves credit for the way he has adapted, and it is positive for United to have an extra defensive option.

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