Where has Manchester United’s £30million signing Luke Shaw been this season? Just when you thought no one had had a worse season at Old Trafford than Radamel Falcao then you remember that Shaw has barely featured for United due to both injuries and apparently a lack of fitness.
Manager Louis van Gaal laid into Shaw quite early into their working relationship by publically admitting that he believed the young man needed to work on improving his fitness before the Dutchman would consider selecting him for first-team action. The embarrassment surely didn’t do anything for Shaw’s confidence after having just joined from Southampton where he had started a bidding war following an outstanding season for the Saints.
But in his maiden year for United Shaw has done little to show that his acquisition was anything other than a massive mistake made worse by how overinflated his transfer fee was. United have really struggled at the back this campaign and Shaw was supposed to help ease this pressure but his numerous injuries have meant that van Gaal hasn’t always been able to call on him when needed.
Shaw is the world’s most expensive full-back but when you consider that he has only started 15 league games this season it is hard to see his addition to the United squad as anything other than a little premature. He was only 18 when he joined the Red Devils and no matter how good his previous year for Southampton was, United should never have spent that much money on a developing talent as they have probably now learnt.
It is not that Shaw is not a capable left-back it’s just that after nine injuries sustained as a Red Devil he has proven to be extremely injury-prone. United can only hope that next year goes very differently for the defender or he’ll be a source of huge embarrassment once again for a club who seem like they have more money than sense at times.
United have two games left before the summer break and van Gaal must be thinking about what areas of his squad needs strengthening. The Shaw situation is difficult because obviously a club will want their expensive players to play in order to recoup some of their money but if United rely on the Englishman next season and he fails to repay that faith then the Dutchman may wish he had extra cover for that position. Their numerous injuries right across the squad but particularly at the back made the campaign harder than it needed to be with players shifted around leaving the starting XI unbalanced and ineffective.
Fortunately United have all but seen off competition from Liverpool for the last Champions League place so the club just need to not get thrashed at Arsenal or Hull and they will finish fourth thanks in part to the summer signing of Marcos Rojo who has played at centre-back and left-back this season when he too, wasn’t injured.
Shaw, at such a tender age, has had a frightful start to his Manchester United career and may be wondering if he is cursed, but next season surely has to be better. Team mate Falcao has shown that it is not easy to join a club like United and make an instant impact no matter how talented or experienced you are. Likewise Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini had difficult starts to their Old Trafford careers but have turned things around. Next season Shaw must do the same.