The Red Devils left-back has enjoyed a welcome return to form this season, with his persistence and patience being rewarded at Old Trafford
Luke Shaw claims to have never given any thought to leaving Manchester United, even when he was coming in for public criticism from former Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho.
The 25-year-old endured a testing time to his start at Old Trafford, with a serious broken leg followed by struggles for form under a demanding Portuguese coach.
He could have been forgiven for walking away at that stage and starting afresh elsewhere, but a left-back who has rediscovered a spark this season says that was never an option he considered.
What has been said?
“It was a very hard time a couple of years back when I wasn’t playing, when I wasn’t even involved,” Shaw told BBC Sport heading into an FA Cup fifth-round clash with West Ham on Tuesday.
“I always believed in myself. There were times where maybe people were thinking ‘maybe he could leave’, but I always believed that one day I would be able to fight my way back into the team and show people what my qualities are.
“I feel like I am starting to do that now but there is still more to come. I’m still quite young and have time to improve.”
He added on being singled out by Mourinho: “It was difficult because I wasn’t able to get my word across.
“A lot of people were behind me here, so I knew I had that backing, but I just needed to keep my head down and keep quiet.
“People were saying negative things about me but I just look back at it as a learning curve and something that has improved me as a person off the pitch, not just on it.
“You always have some doubts. I have been very unfortunate to pick up the injuries I have had but I’ve always believed I can be an important player here.
“You want to be here and showing people what you can do. Hopefully I can keep doing that and proving people wrong.”
What did Mourinho say?
Back in September 2016, Mourinho said after a shock 3-1 defeat to Watford, which came on the back of a derby reversal against Manchester City: “[Aleksandar] Kolarov has the ball in a difficult situation in the corner and my player instead of going up and pressing decides to give him space.
“Today for the second goal, [Nordin] Amrabat on the right side, our left-back is 25 metres distance from him, instead of five metres. But even at 25 metres, then you have to jump and go press. But no, we wait.
“This is a tactical but also a mental attitude. In a couple of weeks, everything like this becomes perfect. That’s my job.”
In April 2017, Mourinho claimed to have had to talk Shaw through an outing against Everton, saying: “He had a good performance, but it was his body with my brain.
“He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him.
“The communication was possible because we were very close. I was thinking for him, when to close inside, when to open, when to press the opponent, I was making every decision for him.”
Shaw has shrugged off the issues of his recent past to become a key man for United in the present.
He has credited the arrival of Alex Telles in the summer of 2020 with bringing even more out of him, with added competition for places forcing him to raise his game.
An England recall ahead of the European Championships is now being mooted, with the last of eight caps for the Three Lions having been collected by the former Southampton defender in 2018.
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