Jose Mourinho has brutally criticized Luke Shaw in public as the Manchester United left back, once the most expensive teenager on the planet, looks to have no future at Old Trafford.
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Following United’s 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Mourinho spoke about Shaw who he left out of his 18-man matchday squad despite seeing his team ravaged by injuries and suspensions in recent weeks.
“The way he trains. The way he commits. The focus. The ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind,” Mourinho said of Shaw.
These comments have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially given the fact that the 21-year-old England international only returned in the summer from a career threatening double leg fracture he suffered at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
Shaw has pushed hard, so it seems for the outside, to regain his fitness and win back his place in United’s lineup but the likes of Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo have been deployed out of position at left back ahead of Shaw and he’s made just 15 appearances all season. Mourinho has called his fitness and focus into question twice this season already after a defeat at Watford and following a win at Swansea, plus rumblings coming out of United early on this season suggested that Shaw was struggling with the new regime.
Now, Shaw’s fitness history may suggest Mourinho’s comments about his focus are close to the mark.
During his first two seasons with Southampton in the Premier League he was substituted late in games on multiple occasions as he was tired and couldn’t complete a full 90 minutes. Then under Louis Van Gaal he was criticized for his lack of fitness but won over the Dutchman and put in superb displays early last season before his horror leg break.
There’s no doubting Shaw’s technical ability as one of the best young left backs on the planet but perhaps his attitude and fitness, something Mourinho has always put intense focus on, can be doubted.
Yet, wherever he has gone Mourinho has cast aside big names to try and make a point to the rest of the squad as to the levels expected by him and his coaching staff. And, usually, they’re youngsters he casts aside.
When you look to his rebuild of Chelsea from 2013 to 2015, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Ryan Bertrand were all cast aside and they’ve all gone on to become stars in the Premier League with other clubs and on the international stage with Mourinho looking somewhat of a fool for misjudging them.
However, was Mourinho’s harsh treatment of the aforementioned players — and many more with David Luiz cast aside and Bastian Schweinsteiger the latest example of someone castigated by Mourinho who has since admitted he was wrong — the catalyst for them to grow into elite players?
Who knows. But there is a pattern emerging of these players perhaps wanting to prove Mourinho wrong and this criticism of Shaw suggests the young left back has one more chance to impress his manager.
It would be no surprise if Shaw leaves United this summer and with Liverpool, Manchester City and even Chelsea reportedly on the hunt for a left back they could do a lot worse than put their faith in a player of great talent who is eager to prove Mr. Mourinho wrong.
As has been the case in the past, Mourinho’s wrath may be the making of a talented youngster dipping below his high standards. Yet, Mourinho, once again, may not be the man to directly benefit from his own harsh treatment.