Here we go again. Luke Shaw has been a favorite target of José Mourinho in the past two seasons, frequently coming under criticism for his supposed lack of application and discipline. Despite a brief respite a couple of months of ago when Mourinho claimed that Shaw was one of the best left-backs in the world (before dropping him for Ashley Young days later), Shaw is now back on the manager’s sh*t list.
Shaw was taken off at half-time of Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final win on Saturday, and any doubt that it may have been an injury-related substitution was swiftly removed by Mourinho in his post-match comments.
“Luke in the first half – every time they come in his corridor, the cross was coming and a dangerous situation was coming so I was not happy with his performance.”
Having already called Shaw stupid in not so many words before, questioned his commitment, questioned his fitness, and questioned his mental strength, the only thing surprising about this latest humiliation is that Mourinho bothered to start him in the first place. Reports yesterday say that even the other players are stunned at the treatment being doled out to the left-back, with some feeling that Shaw is being “bullied.”
There may have been an element of retribution in Mourinho’s decision to haul Shaw off at half-time, as another report today says that the two men had a bust-up on the training ground in mid-week.
Shaw has hardly covered himself in glory during his spells in the team, but it is surely difficult to play yourself into form under a manager who frequently singles you out for public criticism, questions your very professionalism, and refuses to give you an extended run in the team. Whatever Shaw’s faults (no body shaming in the comments, please), he is the only specialist left-back in the squad, and he’s being kept out of the team by a right-footed converted winger on the wrong side of 30. For all Young’s undoubted professionalism, his lack of understanding of the full-back position has been exposed repeatedly this season.
A new left-back will certainly be a transfer priority this summer, but Shaw apparently has no intention of being forced out. It’s not the first time that Shaw’s people have briefed the media with a similar line, but with a manager who doesn’t rate him and a high-priced replacement likely, Shaw may not have much of a choice.