Shaw was recently named United’s Players’ Player of the Year.
Whether or not Manchester United beat Villarreal on Wednesday to clinch the first piece of silverware of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, fans can be pleased with the improvement shown by certain players this season.
Bruno Fernandes has continued on his upward curve, with 28 goals in a stellar first full season at Old Trafford, while Mason Greenwood has in recent weeks once again demonstrated his tantalising potential as one of English football’s brightest young attackers.
But for many United supporters, the standout this season has been Luke Shaw.
Luke Shaw’s transformation.
Shaw has battled just about everything in his seven years at United, from near career-ending injuries to disapproving managers.
However, under Solskjaer, he has resurrected his confidence, producing a string of first-class displays to revive his England career.
Indeed, Shaw has come a long way since being publicly criticised by Jose Mourinho and his rebuilt confidence has not gone unnoticed by Alex Ferguson.
During a recent interview with Gary Neville for The Overlap, the former defender’s fast-growing YouTube series, United captain Harry Maguire revealed a recent conversation he and Shaw had with Ferguson.
After Neville mentioned Fergie’s emphasis on his defenders maintaining focus during games, Maguire said: “It’s funny that you say that about Sir Alex because I saw him a couple of weeks ago, and I was with Luke Shaw speaking to him about it.
“He was asking Luke about how well he has progressed this season, he said the main thing that has progressed for you is concentration.
“As he was leaving, he left, he said goodbye and then he turned around and went to me and Luke, ‘concentration’ and walked off.”
Taking his game to the next level 📈
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 18, 2021
Harry Maguire on Luke Shaw.
It’s hard to argue with Ferguson’s assessment (then again, who are we to argue with the great man). While Shaw has always possessed the ability to bring the ball forward and create chances down the left flank, he was often caught out by runners off his shoulder in defence when he was younger.
Now, though, the 25-year-old has coupled his attacking prowess with vastly improved displays at the back, which have combined to make him one of United’s most influential performers.
Offering his own take on Shaw’s current trajectory, Maguire credited Solskjaer for restoring the former Southampton full-back’s self-confidence.
“I feel like my relationship with my left-back throughout my career, I’ve always had a good one,” said Maguire.
“I had a good one with Ben Chilwell at Leicester, with Andy Robertson at Hull – I’ve been fortunate to play with some great left backs.
“I always say, as a defender, if my centre-back is playing well and the left-back is playing well, it’s almost impossible for me not to be playing well. You come as a partnership so if Luke is doing well, there must be parts of my games that are going well.
“Luke’s belief, confidence, he has all the ability in the world and I think the gaffer [Solskjaer] has to take a lot of credit for what he’s done with Luke. He’s made him believe that he should be playing and he can go on to be one of the best left-backs around.”
Shaw is set to start for United in Wednesday’s Europa League decider with Villarreal in Gdansk having missed the club’s previous four finals (2016 FA Cup, 2017 League Cup, 2017 Europa League final and 2018 FA Cup).
Maguire, however, is in a race to be fit for the final after picking up an injury against Aston Villa earlier this month.