Luke Shaw is quietly enjoying his best Manchester United season yet
Manchester United’s summer signing of Alex Telles was what many believed to be the last nail in Luke Shaw’s coffin as the top pick at Old Trafford.
Not because he was a hateful guy or because he had done something too calamitous, but more so because it was like believing in Shaw in 2020 was like flogging a dead horse. The nickname ‘young English talent with potential’ was dead to death and it was time to let it go and rebuild his image elsewhere.
Quite the opposite has happened. Instead of Telles transparently taking on first-team responsibilities and relegating Shaw to Cup appearances, the Englishman made such an unexpected comeback as John Cena’s at the 2008 Royal Rumble.
It’s actually Such who has to fight to get back to the side after a £ 15.4million move, with Shaw suddenly imposed and remembering he was supposed to be good a few years ago. Like, really good.
While Telles has managed 15 healthy appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils so far, only six of them have come to the Premier League, compared to Shaw’s 14 of 20 Premier League appearances in all competitions. Shaw relished the challenge and threat of the finish and rose to the occasion; Despite a turbulent start to the campaign, he quickly became one of United’s best players and can be relied on to deliver consistent performances in big games.
Two assists don’t quite tell the story as the 25-year-old looks much better going forward. Able to provide the overlap or move inside with the ball at his feet, Shaw looks composed in the forward areas and can find a key pass, but also gets back into position and looks just as reliable on the ball. ‘back. He kept Mohamed Salah extremely quiet as United faced Liverpool at Anfield which was the culmination of a number of solid performances.
There is still work to be done, of course. Since joining United, Shaw’s best season in terms of number of attacks has been his contribution of one goal and five assists to the 2018/19 campaign – the one where he managed to win the club player of the year. He’s had two assists so far this season – the same as his Brazilian colleague – but has to do more with the ball when he finds himself in attacking position. While Telles seems capable of consistently delivering the final ball, Shaw still lacks it as a constant.
It has improved, however. Massively. And that’s simply because United have sought competition rather than cover in their recent transfer strategy.
It’s always disappointing to see a new signing warming up the bench, but it’s also a testament to the rest of the squad doing their jobs. Too often United have signed players who just weren’t good enough in recent seasons to “cover themselves” and ended up with bad options on the bench. Instead, Telles pushes Shaw every week and makes him fight for his place in the XI, which can only improve a player.
This is not a unique case either. David De Gea is returning to his best form following the emergence of Dean Henderson, while Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba and Fred are doing well to keep Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic out of the XI.
Equally impressive are Shaw’s Seven White Sheets from his 20 appearances so far. Despite being able to move the ball forward, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can count on him to make a focused defensive display when needed. He scored 15 in the 2019/20 season, so he’s on track to at least match – if not better – that tally.
Although he was voted United’s player of the year in the 2018/19 campaign would suggest by default that it was his best season at Old Trafford, Shaw’s performances and the growing importance to Solskjaer’s improved squad suggest that in fact the 2020/21 campaign could be his best in a United shirt.
It’s a long season and where there’s an appearance for Shaw there’s a muscle injury not so far behind, but it’s time to give the 25-year-old some well-deserved credit for becoming one of the most successful players. performing on his team and having proven that he skeptics he had the ability from the start.