By Adam Hern
- Shaw endured a difficult first season at Old Trafford
- Entering his fourth season in Premier League
- Only just turned 20
There weren’t many positives from Manchester United’s opening day win, but the performance of Luke Shaw proved his class.
Not much can be learned from Manchester United’s first match of the season against Tottenham Hotspur. Played at a snail’s pace throughout the course of the ninety minutes, United failed to dominate and create many clear cut chances. Nothing much has changed from last season.
Many players unsurprisingly looked as though they lacked match sharpness. The new signings have seemed to have settled in well although it was clearly evident that there was still a small element of nerves in making their home debut for the biggest club in the world.
It has been widely documented about the predicament of United’s current goalkeeping situation. No conclusion to whether David de Gea is going or indeed leaving has yet been made, so it is impossible to know whether or not Sergio Romero is competent enough to be a first choice goalkeeper just yet.
Through the centre of defence, United looked exactly the same as last year. Nothing disastrous, yet not enough to suggest that a new signing isn’t needed in this department. However, one thing that can be taken from the opening day victory is the fact that Luke Shaw is beginning to really live up to his billing.
It’s A Shaw Thing!
England have had many weak points in international football over the years. The left back slot isn’t one of them though. Graeme Le Saux, Stuart Pearce and Ashley Cole to name just a few. Although he has been teetering on the brink of joining this list for a couple of seasons now, it is safe to say that we can now add Luke Shaw to the collection.
It was clear to see from his performances at Southampton that he is a very special player. Week after week he was able to pull the goods out of the bag before signing a mega money contract to join United. To be able to keep calm in pressurised situations the way he does is a very rare skill.
You can’t teach that. You are born with it and just like Cole and Le Saux before him, it just so happens that Shaw is one of the lucky ones who has that strong mentality built into their hardware.
Against Spurs it was vital that United were able to prevent the wide players Nabil Bentalab and Nacer Chadli from finding space and whipping in dangerous crosses. Both Matteo Darmian and Shaw stuck to their defensive duties commendably.
Because it was Darmian’s first match in a country in which he is yet to master the local lingo, it is he who will rightly take a majority of the plaudits in for United’s full back positions. This will make supporters forget about Shaw’s sterling efforts in order to both defend and join in attacks when necessary though.
Despite his injury problems during his first season at Manchester United his credentials were never questioned. He is so confident when in possession of the ball that he fits perfectly into van Gaal’s possession philosophy. The way he closes opponents down in tight situations is a joy to behold.
To be so eager to win the ball back at every opportunity throughout the duration of a full match of Premier League football is an absolute joy to behold. If every player was able to push and squeeze as much as Shaw did against Spurs, then United may have been able to gain possession of the ball more regularly and have time to create more chances for themselves.
Instead a piece of luck with the fortunate own goal from Kyle Walker was the only thing that was able to separate the two sides. If only every player had the same ethic as Luke Shaw, United’s goal difference may have been boosted even further so early in the season.
Questions have been asked of Shaw in the past. Is he good enough? Can he stay fit for long enough? Is he worth the big transfer fee and all the hype? Of course he can. There was always going to be a tough bedding in period for Shaw, especially on the back of a disappointing World Cup.
Now though, with a full and impressive pre-season under his belt and a good start to the Premier League season, it is time to be rest assured that Manchester United and England’s left back position is going to be in a healthy state for many years to come.