Luke Shaw and Jose Mourinho: A relationship on the mend?
Jose Mourinho. A tough, self-centred manager who has often been labelled a bully. That definition was certainly ringing true last year, as the Portuguese publicly berated Luke Shaw amongst others.
Fast-forward a few months, that tough-love approach certainly seems to have worked. Shaw has started the 2018/19 season in blistering fashion. I'd argue that he's playing the best football in his career to date. Yet, the praise for Mourinho isn't arriving. Anyway, that's an argument for another day. Back to a relationship that is certainly on the mend...
Shaw's fitness issues are seemingly behind him. During Mourinho's tenure, the English left-back has often been nursing injury problems. It all stems from that horrific leg-break he suffered on that night in Eindhoven a few years ago. Thankfully, the worst is fully behind him. A good pre-season certainly helped, as did the faith entrusted in him by his gaffer.
For that, Shaw has Ashley Young to thank. The versatile veteran spent the summer out in Russia with the Three Lions; performing admirably as a make-shift left-back. Although he didn't know it at the time, it'd cost the ex-Aston Villa man the starting job at Old Trafford. From day one, Shaw hasn't looked back.
Commanding performances against Leicester City and Burnley have been the highlights. Shaw was the sole standout during United's 3-0 loss at home to Tottenham Hotspur. It's telling that the first player Mourinho went to console at full-time during that game was the rejuvenated left-back. Their once broken relationship now seems stronger than ever.
Four games. 360 minutes. That's how long it took Shaw to force his way back into Gareth Southgate's England squad. That tells you everything you need to know about his immense ability as a left-back. It feels as though the former Southampton man has been around for close to a decade, in fact, he's barely 23-years-old.
While heading off on international duty, which I've no doubt is filling him with excitement, Shaw alluded to the aforementioned relationship with his gaffer. The left-back admitted Mourinho was probably right when he decided to not utilise him twelve months ago. This is the perfect attitude to have if you're going to succeed under the Portuguese's tutelage.
Sure, there has been wrongdoings on both sides. What's telling is the fact that they're coming together in a time of real need for Manchester United. The Theatre of Dreams isn't a happy place at the moment. Mourinho, Shaw and others, are all trying to turn things around. One thing is for certain, they both mean well.
What's going to be mightily interesting is when that inevitable tough period comes Shaw's way. It'll happen, every player goes through it. That'll be a real test for Mourinho's mettle. Will he stick with Shaw? Or revert to type and go back to Young. I'd urge him to stick with the former. He's already proven his superiority over his England teammate. Shaw's the future, Young is nothing but a stop-gap.
I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that the decision made at that time could well be make or break for Mourinho's Old Trafford career. I pray he chooses wisely.