Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw is out for a considerable amount of time after breaking his foot following a challenge from PSV defender Hector Moreno in midweek’s Champions League defeat. We look at three players who can replace Shaw in the United XI.
After a difficult first season that saw him suffer due to fitness issues, Shaw was just hitting the kind of form that prompted Manchester United to sign him for A?27m from Southampton. The defender’s season has now come to an end before it even begins courtesy of a challenge from Hector Moreno during the first half of United’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of PSV Eindhoven.
Shaw was breaking in the box when Moreno slid in and won the ball, but his follow-through caught the United man who suffered a double fracture to his leg and was carried off the field.
We look at three alternative Louis van Gaal has to fill in Shaw’s position.
1. Daley Blind
Signed by Manchester United from Ajax last season, Blind has played as a left-back or even left wing-back for both, club and country. He was deployed in a left wing-back role for Holland in the 2014 World Cup under Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman also finished last season as the first choice left-back, keeping Shaw out of the team.
He is, however, now playing as a central defender at United in the absence of the injured Phil Jones and has done very well so far as United look very solid at the back.
Van Gaal might be reluctant to change his position given how well he has played in central defence.
2 . Ashley Young
Young had played as a wing-back when Van Gaal had deployed the 5-3-2 formation at the club last season. The English international has lost his first team spot to Depay and would be open to playing in the defence too, given his team-oriented attitude. Young is not a natural defender and hence, to play him in a back 4 on the left-hand side of the defence can be very dangerous. Playing him at wing-back is a very different proposition to playing him as a left-back in a 4-man defence.
United could be brutally exposed from their left-hand side and certainly this cannot be a long-term solution but could be used in certain games in order to rest the left-back who would regularly play in the position.
3. Marcos Rojo
Rojo’s time at United has been a roller coaster one. Signed from Sporting Lisbon last season, Rojo had slowly established himself in the first team in a central defensive role, before falling out against Louis van Gaal. He failed to renew his passport in time to be on the plane for the pre-season game, prompting van Gaal to not play him till the PSV Eindhoven game, when he came on in a central defensive role and Daley Blind moved to the left-back slot.
The defence did not function as expected when Rojo came on against PSV, and this might tempt Van Gaal to play the Argentine international at left-back and continue with Blind in central defence. Rojo has played as a left-back for his previous clubs and even Argentina and should have no problem in playing in the position. Going forward, of course, Rojo will not offer the same kind of threat as Shaw did, but defensively, he could be a sound player.
Louis van Gaal has a big decision to make as they travel to Southampton hoping to banish the memories of the painful loss of Shaw and their opening Champions League fixture in a group that is far from easy.
Van Gaal’s decision to maintain the effectiveness of his defence by choosing one of the above players will go a long way in determining the success the team enjoys this season with the attack looking dull and ineffective at times.