Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Both in football and in life. And so it proved after Luke Shaw was injured in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Southampton this week.
What makes the situation worse is that Shaw’s replacement – Brandon Williams – suffered a head injury shortly before full-time.
No one knows what could have been. However, resting Shaw from the outset seemed the most sensible – and least risky – option for United prior to kick-off.
Shaw had started 10 Premier League games in a row before last night’s clash. The £27million man (BBC) was in fine form but, given his previous injury woes and Williams’ presence in the squad, freshening things up made sense.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had previously suggested a change or two. And yet, when the starting line-up came out, it was the same once again.
United have been in such fine form that few were complaining at the time. Yet now Shaw could be facing a spell on the side-lines and Williams looks set to join him.
Had the latter been on the field from the start, the game would have played out differently. Now Solskjaer may need to play someone out of position as he fights for a top-four finish and a FA Cup final appearance.
Strength in depth
Of all the possible changes United could have made against Southampton, starting Williams in place of Shaw was the most obvious. That was closely followed by Eric Bailly coming in for Vcitor Lindelof.
Resting those two would have freshened things up without risking victory. As it was, Shaw got injured and Lindelof was at fault for the equalising goal.
As we said, hindsight makes experts of us all. And who knows what would have happened if one or two changes had been made prior to kick-off?
What we do know is that players are more likely to get injured or make mistakes when they are tired. And so it proved this week.
Shaw has been in wonderful form, but a home match against a side with nothing to play for was the time to rest him.
Hopefully he and Williams will both be back soon. If they aren’t, this match could be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
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