At this point, it’s clear Jose Mourinho doesn’t hold much faith in Luke Shaw. The fact the former world-record full-back signing is being kept out of the team by a 32-year-old winger in Ashley Young is telling enough, but he’s also behind the likes of Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian in the pecking order.
But Mourinho did elect to give the England international a runout last night in the least important fixture of United’s 2017/18 campaign thus far against CSKA Moscow – the Red Devils would have only failed to hold onto top spot in Champions League Group A by an almost miraculous turnaround in goal difference.
Conveniently too, said game was less than a month before the opening of the January transfer window, which in itself is an insight into how Mourinho now views Shaw. However, if last night’s 2-1 win over CKSA was indeed a case of putting the former Southampton defender in the shop window in time for the new year, Shaw will have certainly caught the attention of potential mid-season suitors.
Perhaps most impressive was the fact Shaw lasted the whole ninety minutes, the first time he’s done so since the end of April. But barring a positional error in CSKA’s opening goal that can be attributed to rustiness, the 22-year-old’s performance on top gave plenty to write home about as well.
Although Shaw tired as the match grew on, he was arguably United’s biggest attacking threat in the first half, something highlighted by his four dribbles, two shots and two crosses – one of which almost fell straight into the path of Marcus Rashford for a tap-in.
But defensively too, Shaw made key contributions, completing two interceptions and finishing up with the most clearances to his name of any United player. While it may not have been enough to revive an Old Trafford career that appears to be coming to an inevitable end, it was a timely reminder of how much Shaw can offer other clubs – just in time for the January window.