From One of Soccer’s brightest talents to a United Outcast, The Curious Case of Luke Shaw


Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw has had a rollercoaster ride of a time at Old Trafford so far, but could the 2018/19 season be the campaign where the Englishman finally makes his mark.

On June 27, 2014, Manchester United signed left-back Luke Shaw from Southampton for a fee of around $27 million. This was the day that United would finally usher in a new guard of defenders after the veterans of the past disappointed during David Moyes’ one season with the club in 2013

This signing excited many United fans, who were looking for something positive to cling on to after the tumultuous 2013 season. Shaw was supposed to provide that. As a young teenager for Southampton, he showed the world how good he was at bombing forward on the left flank, providing a killer cross to an offender, and his ability to get stuck in when he had to defend.

He was destined to take over the spot Patrice Evra held down for so many years, yet, as quickly as he rose up, the faster he fell down to soccer purgatory. Now the left-back for United can barely get a spot as a sub for the Red Devils.

His fall from one of soccers brightest talents, to now a forgotten one can be blamed on injuries, fitness, managers and his overall attitude to playing the game. It seems everytime Shaw takes a step forward nowadays, he immediately takes three back.

2014/2015 season

The summer he signed for United, Shaw was busy with the England squad at the 2014 World Cup. He featured for 90 minutes in a meaningless game against Costa Rica after England had been eliminated from advancing to the knockout stages.

Before The Red Devils’ first preseason game that year, Van Gaal called out the young 19-year-old on his lack of fitness.

The Dutchmen wanted Shaw to be at a certain fitness level, so he could run his 3-5-2 system, which required the wingbacks to move up and down the flanks.

That early criticism was a sign of a long season for Shaw. He didn’t make his premier league debut for United until Sept. 27, 2014, against West Ham. Shaw’s first season at the club was filled with injuries and fitness issues. It felt like once Shaw got a couple of games under his belt an injury would come to hamper his momentum. With his constant injuries, Van Gaal would opt for more consistency at the left-back position with Daley Blind.

However, when Shaw did play that season, he wasn’t terrible. He had no errors that led to goals, he was successful on 83 percent of his tackles and he made 12 interceptions. So, in retrospect, the season wasn’t a total failure. You could blame his struggles on making a move to a mega club at such a young age and having unrealistic expectations thrown at him week in and week out.

Shaw rated his first season as a C minus. He cited injuries as being one of the biggest things that derailed this season, according to an article written by the Telegraph.

2015/2016 season

“season of Luke Shaw”

the young left-back, made tremendous strides during preseason. He looked fitter and had a better understanding of how to handle the expectations being thrown at him at a club like Manchester United. With Blind being moved to center back, no one stood in Shaw’s path for the spot. It was this season that Shaw was building a good connection with former left-winger, Memphis Depay. The two would always joke around together. Once the season started, Shaw was putting in solid performances. He was bombing forward on the left wing and he was stopping opposing offenders. He finally looked like the player United signed from Southampton.

He used his strength to outmuscle wingers off the ball, and made good recovery runs if he was ever out of position.

On Sept. 16, 2015, Shaw bombed forward into the final third of the box for United in a Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven. As he burst through the PSV defense, Hector Moreno, went studs up to stop him. The tackle led to Shaw having a double fracture on his right leg. The injury put him out for the rest of the season. This was a freak accident, and it was really bad for Shaw because he was starting to show the United faithful the abilities that had many clubs clamouring over his name.

In his short sample size in the Premier League that season, Shaw had a 100 percent tackle rate, five interceptions and 40 recoveries. He also led the way for United to have three cleans sheet, and he featured five times in the competition.

Next: The Curious Case Of Mister Blind - why Jose Mourinho didn't appreciate the talents of the Ajax man!

2016/2017 and 2017/2018

The start of the Jose Mourinho era at United gave everyone at the club a fresh start to cement their place as a Manchester United player. However, Mourinho, who is know to be a cut-throat manager, went after Shaw through the media. The Special One repeatedly called out the full-back about his fitness and lack of commitment. Mourinho applied the same treatment to Shaw during this past season too.

In these past two seasons, Shaw has appeared in 22 Premier League games. The lack of games, barley gives Shaw a chance to shine under the spotlights. Whenever he does play, he never seems to be his full self. It seems every time he makes a pass or a tackle, he’s worried about what the manager will say instead of being himself on the pitch.

2018/2019 Preseason

With all that has gone wrong for Shaw in his four seasons at the club, it would’ve been an easy decision to try to force a move away from Manchester United. However, it seems the young full-back intends to force his way back into the starting 11 for the Red Devils. With his omission from the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, Shaw took that time to work on himself.

He recently went to the  Nad Al Sheba Complex in Dubai to improve his overall fitness levels, according to an article by Sports Bible. He posted a picture on Instagram with the progress he’s made since he started the workout program. United officials were reportedly impressed with Shaw because he has topped the charts on multiple fitness checks for preseason.

This preseason may be the last chance for Shaw to leave his mark on Mourinho in hopes of regaining a place back in the United squad. Fans will hope this small light of progress made by Shaw will help him realize the potential that everyone saw in him four years ago.