On Tuesday Luke Shaw started his first Manchester United game since April as United advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League.
It was only his 50th appearance in a Manchester United jersey despite signing for the club over three years ago.
The game also marked his first Champions League appearance since his horrific leg break in Eindhoven in September 2015. The youngster had been in flying form for Louis van Gaal’s side but has struggled to return to that level since, albeit with little opportunity in the first team due to a constant battle with injuries and trying to show Jose Mourinho he has what it takes to succeed at Old Trafford.
Shaw seems to have been around for a long time but people must remember he is still only 22 years of age. Tuesday night was just a glimpse of what Shaw can do. Manchester United after all spent £30 million on the player from Southampton and Jose Mourinho himself, whilst at Chelsea, saw Shaw as a potential signing for the Blues.
He was at the time hailed as one of England’s brightest prospects. While Shaw must show he can return to that form, Mourinho must also give him the stage to perform on.
United are hardly blessed in the full-back department at the moment, particularly when you look at the history of the club with the likes of Denis Irwin, Gary Neville and Patrice Evra all earning legendary status in the north-west.
On Saturday Ashley Young played as a full-back, and while the former Aston Villa man has been superb in the role and deservedly was nominated for the November Player of the Month award. However, it is clear he is not the long-term answer in the position for Mourinho.
Mourinho told Shaw ahead of Tuesday’s game that it was not a test, but more so an opportunity to play. He certainly took his opportunity well and on another day he could have ended the game with a goal and assist, getting a chance himself in the 20th minute and providing both Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford with chances both should have done better with.
Before Tuesday Shaw had just played 48 minutes as a substitute this season and with Manchester City making the short trip to Old Trafford on Sunday Shaw will more than likely watch from the stands, however his performance on Tuesday will have given Mourinho some food for thought.
The games come thick and fast in December and the Carabao Cup meeting with Bristol City may be Shaw’s next opportunity to show his boss a new full-back need not be on his shopping list as the transfer window opens next month and he continues to be linked with Tottenham’s Danny Rose.
Question marks have been raised over the player’s lifestyle off the pitch with former managers Mauricio Pochettino, Roy Hodgson and Van Gaal all questioning the player’s weight and lifestyle choices.
Mourinho was impressed with his defender last night and has promised more opportunities will come his way, as reported in the Manchester Evening News.
“Very positive performance.
“Especially with the ball going forward, really dangerous, creating a lot, great intensity in his game, no surprise in minute 80 he is feeling the consequences of that intensity, is normal, first match of the season for him.
“But he was deserving of that opportunity for quite a long time and he’s going to get more because the performance was really positive.”
It is now up to Shaw to decide if he wants to fight for his future at Manchester United, and on last night’s showing it appears he does.