Is Luke Shaw getting his 'one chance'?
Manchester United might have started the season in sensational style but one position in their team was far from secure even at that point in time.
The left-back slot has been a problematic department of sorts for the Red Devils ever since Patrice Evra left in club in the summer of 2014. The veteran defender’s departure from the club was followed by the signing of Luke Shaw, who was at that point viewed to have the potential of being the best left-back in the world; a potential he has largely failed to live up to.
When the club signed Shaw from Southampton in 2014 for a fee in the region of ?30 million – making him the world’s most expensive teenager at the time, he was heralded as a player capable of holding down the left-back spot at the club for a decade or more.
The defender however, has had a torrid time at the club. His career-threatening injuries kept aside, Shaw’s fitness, mentality, work ethic and determination have been questioned at different points in his Manchester United career.
In spite of these, he still carried the much talked about 'potential' tag and was expected to turn up sooner rather than later. But during Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge at the club, it was discovered that the Portuguese manager was having doubts about the Englishman despite giving him starts in the side’s first four league games of the season.
This coupled with reoccurring fitness issues ensured that Shaw made only 19 appearances in all competitions in the 2016-17 season.
At the start of the 2017-18 season, the 22-year-old was sidelined once again and the team doing well saw his chances diminished even when he returned to full fitness. Shaw was reported to be up for a move away from Old Trafford as the club looked to close the books on the youngster.
The plan for Manchester United was to get a new left-back in January with Danny Rose identified as the ideal target. Because of Shaw's previous working relationship with the current Tothenham Hotspur boss, Mauricio Pochettino, a swap deal involving both players was being mooted.
New developments have seen Manchester United shelve these plans for the time being at least. Luke Shaw is back in the team due to a number of fortunate circumstances for him. He is even doling out good performances that have seen his stock at the club rise once again.
The England international has started the last three matches in the league for his side, a feat he last achieved in September 2016. His new found rhythm, Ashley Young's performances, and the presence of Matteo Darmian means Manchester United will most likely postpone their search for a left-back.
The next five months will be pivotal in Shaw’s Manchester United career. He will have to maintain his fitness and perform consistently to safeguard his future at the club.