With Manchester United all but assured of qualification to the Europa League last sixteen, many assumed that Luke Shaw would be given a rare start on Wednesday.
José Mourinho’s side take a 3-0 lead to St-Étienne for the second leg, and despite the EFL Cup final taking place this weekend (which Shaw is also unlikely to play in), the left-back has still been left at home.
With serious doubts now surrounding the player’s long-term Old Trafford future, Mourinho hasn’t exactly assured Shaw of his place in the squad by telling reporters that the England international is fourth-choice in his plans.
Speaking to the media ahead of the tie at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, the Man United boss has explained that Shaw will have to bypass Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo to get a place in his starting eleven:
“Why has Luke Shaw stayed behind in Manchester? Because I am playing with Daley Blind, with Marcos Rojo, with Matteo Darmian and all of them are playing the way I like a full-back to play,” he said.
“Luke has to wait for his chance. He has to work better and better knowing that I give nothing for free.
“When I give something to the players it’s expensive for them, it’s not cheap it is expensive they have to work really hard every day. They have to play well, so he has to wait.
“In this moment he is behind the others.”
Shaw’s future at the club has been the subject of speculation for most of the season. A public dressing-down by Mourinho in September’s 3-1 defeat at Watford was followed by Mourinho questioning his attitude when both he and Chris Smalling didn’t feature against Swansea in November.
So far has Shaw fallen down the pecking order, in fact, that he has made just two appearances in 2017, and has not featured at all in the Premier League since October.
Mourinho took a similarly hard approach with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial earlier in the campaign – and while that has paid dividends for those particular players, it doesn’t seem to be having quite the same effect with Shaw.