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Why Ed Woodward – and not Jose Mourinho – should be thanked for Luke Shaw’s improvement 

The youngster is finally showing us all what he can do in a United shirt, but perhaps Mourinho doesn't deserve all of the credit

It’s not exactly been a vintage start to the season for Man United, has it?

Jose Mourinho’s side made light work of Europe League-weary Burnley on Sunday, but their disappointing defeats to Brighton and Spurs in their opening handful of games have been the main theme of their early-season form.

Cue some rather melancholic clapping

EPA
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Cue some rather melancholic clapping

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But amongst all of the recent doom and gloom, there’s still plenty for United fans to be sort of pleased about.

Romelu Lukaku’s brace at Turf Moor means he already has three goals in the league this season, while Alexis Sanchez put in one of his best performances in a United shirt.

But perhaps best of all has been the consistency of Luke Shaw. 

Pretty in pink

Reuters
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Pretty in pink

As we all know, a lot has happened to Shaw in the last couple of years.

Since moving to Old Trafford in the summer of 2014 for a then-record fee for a teenager, the left-back has enjoyed flashes of brilliance under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, but has mainly been a beacon of disappointment.

His low-point was undoubtedly the double leg fracture he suffered in the Champions League against PSV, while his recent woes have come in the shape of public drubbings from his manager, with plenty being said about his attitude towards training and fitness.

At one point towards the end of last season, it got a bit ridiculous. 

Shaw was seemingly Mourinho’s main target for criticism throughout most of last season

Reuters
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Shaw was seemingly Mourinho’s main target for criticism throughout most of last season

But in the afterglow of Shaw’s recent upsurge in form – which has coincided in an England call-up from Gareth Southgate – much has been said about Mourinho’s so-called ‘tough love’ approach towards the young fullback.

Perhaps publicly lambasting a young player is a good thing, after all?

Well, maybe.

Shaw’s resurgence started in the summer, when he returned from his holiday early to work closely with United’s fitness coach before the start of the season.

But perhaps the real masterstroke inadvertently came from Ed Woodward.

It’s well known that United’s executive vice-chairman refused to pay out for a handful of players Mourinho wanted to buy during the summer transfer window – notably Toby Alderweireld – and it’s seemingly caused a bit of a rift between the two.

Frosty

AFP or licensors
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Frosty

Another player Mourinho demanded was Juventus left-back Alex Sandro, who would’ve almost certainly put an end to Shaw’s United career if he moved to the club this summer.

But with Woodward refusing to buy the pricey Brazilian and Shaw starting the season in the absence of Ashley Young, it’s all seemingly worked out alright.

So, in a way, Woodward’s approach to transfers this summer is a factor to Shaw’s recent place in the team.

Anything he can do?

Getty Images - Getty
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Anything he can do?

Perhaps this will prove to be the case for some of the other players in the squad that Mourinho isn’t so keen on.

His hot pursuit for a new centre-back this season only strengthened the claim that he’s given up on Victor Lindelof – who he only signed a year ago – but perhaps a run in the first-team will do wonders for his confidence, like it’s done for Shaw.

Will we see more from Victor this season?

EPA
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Will we see more from Victor this season?

So, it’s not all doom and gloom at Old Trafford after all – and it’s perhaps all down to Mourinho not getting his own way.


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