Entering the 2020/21 season, Luke Shaw looked out of favor at United. Alex Telles joined the Red Devils for $16.5 million last summer and Brandon Williams impressed during project restart. Due to his injury track record, it appeared that Luke Shaw’s appearances this season would dwindle.
However, the opposite occurred. After returning from injury Shaw proved his worth. His performances consistently improved and now finds himself in the conversation for best fullback in the Premier League. The following shows how Luke Shaw transformed himself for United this season.
Full Recovery + Rest
Injuries constantly plague Luke Shaw. Since signing for United in 2014, Shaw picked up 11 injuries and missed around 120 games for the club. That marks down to missing -on average- 20 games a season. His injury proneness undoubtedly played a major role in United’s choice to sign Telles in the summer.
While Telles arriving seemed a problem for Shaw, it actually provided Luke with an understudy who can take games and give Shaw proper time to return from injuries. This season when Shaw returned from his hamstring injury in December, he came back fresh. That extra time to fully rehab allowed Shaw to come back fit. Thanks to Telles, Shaw avoided playing games this season where he was not 100% fit.
Fitting the System
Luke Shaw deserves the majority of the credit for his current run of form, but the coaching staff gets some respect as well. United use the 4-2-3-1 formation for the majority of matches. Where the double pivoted CDMs protect the fullbacks from counter-attacks and allow them to get forward. The onus on attacking from a wide position benefits Shaw. The 4-2-3-1 fits players like Shaw perfectly; They can drift wide while controlling possession and stop opposing counter-attacks near the touchline without fear of them cutting inside. The emerangence of Luke Shaw this season is due in large part to the system that lets him flourish.
Embracing Competition and Being a Team-Player
Luke Shaw never had any competition at left-back. The position was his since he signed for United in 2014. However for the first time as a Red Devil, he needs to consistently perform to keep his spot in the lineup. It should come as no surprise that Shaw reached his top form when Telles signed. The competition around Shaw for the left-back position improved his game. Also, this season we have seen a tighter knit United squad. Which Shaw shows when he plays; When United look cohesive, they also look a top side in Europe.
Glory Glory Man United.
Written by CJ Szaz.