Luke Shaw has taken criticism about his fitness levels on the chin, as the most expensive teenager in the world adapts to life at Manchester United.
Shaw, 19, was sent to train on his own this week by new United boss Louis van Gaal after the Dutchman deemed Shaw’s fitness levels to be inadequate.
[RELATED: Shaw not fit enough]
The England international, who was the youngest player to perform at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has been deployed in a left wing back role in three friendlies for United on their U.S. tour so far, instead of his usual left back position. Under van Gaal United are likely to play a 3-5-2 formation so it’s a position Shaw should get used to playing. On Tuesday evening the former Southampton defender came on for the second half against Inter Milan after Reece James was unable to play. Shaw had already been put through a heavy training session on Tuesday in Washington D.C. after van Gaal stated he is “not fit enough to do what I want” but he played the second half.
Speaking after United’s penalty shootout win over Inter at FedExField, Shaw agreed with van Gaal’s assessment.
“It’s something I totally agree with. Playing in this formation you really have to be fit. I am fit but not at his high demands,” Shaw said. “I know I have got to get fitter to get up and down. That’s something I am going to work on, and tonight in 45 minutes I felt really good, so I am looking forward to keep on progressing until the start of the season. I didn’t come into United thinking it’s going to be much harder and that’s something I made a mistake on. I thought it was just going to be the same but United is the biggest club in the world and there are world-class players in training so it’s something that is going to push me on.”
Give the last two sentences above, Shaw obviously underestimated the physical demand facing him during preseason. Over the past two seasons in the PL he often came off in the second half of games with small injuries but his pace and power shone through from left back in every single outing.
It seems as though van Gaal is using Shaw as an example to the rest of the United squad. He will not tolerate anything less than peak fitness and he is not scared to bench you. Shaw is 19, willing to listen and learn and has just left Southampton (where he was since the age of 7) for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
This whole episode will be a learning curve for Shaw but as long as he has van Gaal as his mentor and listens to him, he will go far.