When Manchester United lined up at Anfield in January, Luke Shaw was selected as part of a back three.
United fans feared the worst immediately, and while the team succumbed to a 2-0 loss, Shaw performed well.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer repeated the experiment, with Shaw lining up as a central defender in subsequent games away at Chelsea, Manchester City, and Club Brugge, as well as at home to Watford.
United conceded just one goal in these matches, in the away game in Belgium.
It was an experiment which allowed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to pick both left-backs Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams in the same side.
While this was not toyed with after the lockdown, it is an option available to United over the course of a long season ahead, with injuries and suspensions likely to prompt some variance in line-ups.
United are being linked with a move for Real Madrid, Sergio Reguilon, with AS reporting he is interesting the Red Devils.
The Spain international is an impressive player, and he would put Shaw under a lot of pressure for a first team spot.
But as Shaw and Williams displayed last season, it would be possible for both Shaw and Reguilon to play together in the same XI.
Shaw was a pleasant surprise with the way he performed as part of a back three, and it is possible this might end up being a long-term position for him, if United use this formation.
United do have plenty of other options at centre-back, but there were times in January and February that Solskjaer selected Shaw ahead of Eric Bailly, which shows how highly the manager rates him.
Shaw featured strongly in United’s unbeaten run, being selected to start every game before he was injured against Southampton at the start of July.
Reguilon’s arrival would no doubt be a blow to Shaw, but it would not be the end.
It could be the challenge he needs to excel. Shaw’s best performances came at the start of this year after Brandon Williams looked like taking his spot. The motivation might be just what he needs.
Shaw’s versatility can give him an extended career at United. He proved a real point at the start of this year, and can continue to do so, whatever obstacles are thrown in front of him.
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