Manchester United’s squad has been full of disappointments this season. While Harry Maguire has copped his fair share of the flak, Luke Shaw has also been underwhelming.
Shaw’s inconsistent form has arguably been more frustrating. He was one of England’s most dynamic players at the Euros, and he had prepared for that with his best season yet for Manchester United.
Luke Shaw was playing some of the best football of his career a year ago. He won the club’s player of the month award for March, with 63 per cent of the vote, following up a February win too.
Shaw was recalled into the England squad for the first time since 2018, describing it as a ‘massive honour’. Months later he was starring at the Euros.
It says a lot about Gareth Southgate’s inconsistent team selection that Shaw was picked by England for this latest squad, despite his recent spell out of the United side, partly due to being rotated, and also a battle with Covid.
Being involved for England should get him back up to speed fitness-wise. It’s better from a United perspective he plays and trains with the Three Lions, rather than going off on holiday.
There is renewed competition for the left-back spot from Alex Telles since Ralf Rangnick took over. While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the mistake of not giving Telles a chance during Shaw’s poor form early in the season, the interim boss has been more open minded.
Telles has done well, just not brilliantly. He is still short of the levels Shaw produced last season.
United now need Shaw to come back strong over the final few weeks of the season. It could make a huge difference.
There are plenty of areas in the United squad which the new manager needs to fix. Striker, midfield, right-back, centre-back. United could really do without adding left-back to the list.
Is Shaw the long term answer at left-back? Possibly not. Under-23 star Alvaro Fernandez could be the answer, but he’s not ready yet.
Shaw must show he is more than capable of being a key player over the next two seasons, and produce the levels he did in 2020/21.
Ending this season strongly would send a real message to his doubters that can still be a key player.