. Despite a stop-start debut campaign, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal backs Luke Shaw to firmly establish his place in the side following a promising pre season.
Bearing the weight of a heavy transfer fee was never going to be easy for a 19-year old. It was going to especially difficult considering that the price tag of A?27 Million is the highest paid for a player under 20 years of age.
Despite this, United felt that signing Shaw was imperative as they needed a long term left-back replacement for the departing Patrice Evra.
Shaw had shown great promise with Southampton in the previous campaign, becoming the youngest defender to ever be selected in the PFA Team of The Year.
His first season at United however, was blighted by injury, issues of weight, and the burden of unfulfilled expectations that came from the hefty transfer fee.
Shaw suffered nine different injuries, as well as issues of weight and fitness, relegating him to the second choice at the Left-Back spot behind Daley Blind. S
haw had shown great promise in the matches he started, but, was never able to achieve a consistent level of fitness that led to stunting of his growth as a player.
The new campaign can be the ‘Season of Luke Shaw’ according to Louis van Gaal
Van Gaal’s decision to prevent former Southampton defender from representing the England U-21’s was viewed as selfish by some.
The Dutch manager’s aim to start the season off with a fully fit team took precedence over any international representation.
The move looks to have paid off, as Shaw is looking stronger, faster and sharper, ready to tackle the new season head-on.
a Luke Shaw is a big talent. Hea s very young so ita s not so easy for him to come from Southampton to as big a club as Manchester United,a Van Gaal was quoted saying to the Guardian.
a I think that it shall be the season of Luke Shaw, that I believe. I believe in him and he has to feel that and I hope he shall show it. But hea s 20 years old. How many players of that age are playing in the Premier League?a
Can Shaw become a mainstay in United’s defence?
Van Gaal’s attitude towards Shaw shows, both, respect for his abilities, as well as a belief of what the player can accomplish.
His desire to see him train the whole summer, as well as play a full season, shows that Van Gaal has Shaw firmly in his plans for the future. While it might be ludicrous to suggest that Shaw will not feature heavily in United’s upcoming campaign, he is still a rough diamond that needs to be polished.
In his absence, Daley Blind performed quite well at the Left-Back spot. Linking up with Maroune Fellaini and Ashley Young, Blind was the origin of all United’s left-sided attacks, producing great overlapping runs and perfectly timed passes.
a I already said many times I play where the manager needs me,a Blind was quoted saying by the Guardian.
a Now he gives me the chance in this position and I try to do my best,a he said. a I have played there before, so I know what is asked of me.a
Blind’s deployment at Centre-Back throughout the pre-season may lead some to suggest that Shaw’s spot is safe. However, with Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Tyler Blackett all able to play at left-back, Shaw will have enough competition to step-up his game to the level the club requires.
Shaw has shown his quality on the pitch whenever he has had a proper run. The only thing he has to ensure is that his fitness supplements his talent, rather than supplanting it.
While he is a way off from fully justifying his astronomical price-tag, a good campaign this time around can enable him to be a part of United’s long term future.