October 18, 2019
Luke Shaw signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2014, signing from Southampton for £27 million. Just 18 at the time, Shaw was tipped to become the first-choice left-back for both club and country. Around a month later, Louis van Gaal became the manager of the club after guiding the Netherlands to third-place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Initially, Shaw did well at the club, despite poor fitness and a long injury list. In his second season at the club, in the UEFA Champions League, which was missing from Van Gaal’s first season, Shaw suffered a double leg fracture against PSV Eindhoven, a near career-ending injury which literally wrote off his season.
Shaw made his competitive return in the FA Community Shield victory over Leicester City at the start of the 2016/17 season, under Jose Mourinho as Van Gaal was sacked after winning the Emirates FA Cup at the end of the 2015/16 season. Shaw made just 19 appearances that season, which was not a great return, suffering more injuries.
Shaw missed a total of 25 matches during the 2016/17 season, a season which saw United win the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, along with the FA Community Shield at the start of the season. The left-back’s season ended at the end of April though, with a foot injury, meaning he would miss the Europa League final that season.
Shaw made his return about a month into the 2017/18 season but only made 19 appearances with Ashley Young playing many fixtures at left-back and establishing himself as the best option in the position for Mourinho. The Portuguese manager was suggested, albeit by supporters, to have bullied Shaw by criticising him for his fitness and injury record.
The same supporters will have been mocking him for his weight, fitness and injury problems since, which just shows how fickle a fan base can become. Shaw did not make the England squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Young did. Shaw last played for England during the 2018/19 season, a 2-1 defeat against Spain in the UEFA Nations League.
The 2018/19 season was Shaw’s best at the club, making 40 appearances in all competitions, double his highest number of appearances in his first season at the club. He also scored his first goal for the club against Leicester City in the opening Premier League match of the season. It. ay have been a good season for Shaw, for United it was not.
Mourinho saw himself sacked after a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in December 2018, which saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named as the caretaker manager from the next match, which was against Cardiff City, a club Solskjaer managed. United won that match 5-1 and went on an good run, suggesting problems may have been caused by Mourinho.
However, the United we saw under Mourinho returned and Solskjaer, to this day, has a poor record at the club and is trying to rebuild in order to bring the United we all want to see back again. Shaw will need to start showing signs of reaching the level he was expected to after signing for the club in 2014. Something he may or may not do.
On the 18 October 2018, a year ago, Shaw signed a new long-term contract with the club, remaining at the Theatre of Dreams until the summer of 2023, although a further year was added into the contract, which could see him last ten years at the club. For that to happen though, things would need to change.
At times, Shaw has played well and driven the team forward, but at other times, he seems to have been carried by other players, which has led to United not achieving the results that may have been desired. In the third match of the 2019/20 season, the 201 defeat to Crystal Palace, Shaw suffered a thigh injury, missing the last eight matched in all competitions.
The now 24-year-old still has a good future ahead of him but finds himself in another position that means he will need to raise his game. Injury, a lack of fitness and fatigue has seen five years pass with little to shout about for Shaw and this season will be a big one for him, especially with the likes of Brandon Williams making the first team in his absence.
Williams, 18, has played twice for the first team this season, playing 45 minutes against Rochdale in the third round of the Carabao Cup, a 1-1 draw, 5-3 victory on penalties, also playing the following week, 90 minutes this time in the 0-0 draw with AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League. Shaw has been training since before that match, so is ready to return.
It is safe to say that United has struggled with Shaw on the sidelines again which has led to reports suggesting that the club will be seeking to sign another fullback either in January or during the summer transfer window. This might be to replace Shaw or give him competition, although it might create a cul-de-sac for young Williams.
The question is, does Luke Shaw have what it takes to succeed at Manchester United? After five years, the jury is still out. He’s made 109 appearances for United, this being his sixth season at the club, scoring just one goal. This season will be one where he will be expected to bring more to the team. After injuries etc, he deserves the chance to prove himself, however, it will not easy for him to achieve this.