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Will League Cup cameos spell the end for Luke Shaw at Manchester United?

Wednesday 25th October 2017
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho brought on defender Luke Shaw in the final few minutes of Tuesday night's Carabao Cup win over Swansea City, forcing him to travel with the team to the Liberty Stadium and make just two touches.

It was the England international's second appearance of the season, having been given 45 minutes in the third round against Burton Albion, and it may spell the end of his United career.

Injuries have hampered playing time

Prior to Jose Mourinho being appointed as manager of Manchester United, Luke Shaw had made 28 appearances since his 2014 move from Southampton. The left-back had suffered from a number of injuries in the last three years at United and had missed half of his first season under Mourinho.

Shaw was a regular for the Red Devils early on in 2016/17, however, racking up 435 minutes of playing time from a possible 450. But he managed just 161 minutes of football in the following five months and was reduced to two starts from the remaining three months of the season as a result.

The 22-year-old has been unable to get hardly any playing time for the senior side since, failing to make the matchday squad in the Premier League and Champions League. Shaw has only amassed 50 minutes of playing time from a possible 180 in the EFL Cup this season too, and it doesn't appear likely that Mourinho will bring him back into the first-team on a regular basis.

Fallout with Mourinho

The relationship between Luke Shaw and Mourinho seems at an all-time low, but it didn't start that way. Upon his arrival at the club, the Manchester United manager gave the left-back his first appearance for 10 months in a pre-season friendly against Wigan. Mourinho was full of praise for Shaw for working so hard to get himself back into contention too.

“When I found Luke Shaw in the training ground, it was a surprise for me because I thought he cannot be ready. But he did fantastic in the summer, sacrificed his holiday, staying in the city and training every day. He is trying hard and was mad to play more than 45 minutes but for me, it's better 45 safe than more, so let's go step by step,” he said in July 2016, reports BBC Sport.

Two months later, Mourinho called out Shaw for his performance in September's defeat to Watford, saying: “Our left-back is 25 metres away instead of five. Give him 25 metres and you have to press. But no, we wait. It is a tactical but also mental attitude,” reported the Guardian. This started a continued offensive by Mourinho against Shaw where the Portuguese coach seemed to be critical of the full-back any time he played for United.

In November, Shaw was called out for pulling out of a match against Swansea, citing that he was in pain and couldn't play. Mourinho said: “Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play, so we had to build a defensive line. There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference,” reports the Guardian.

A month later, Mourinho rallied the left-back to improve and earn his spot in the side. “He needs to improve. That is normal, he is a kid. I am not expecting a young player to be perfect. A young player makes mistakes, a young player has things to learn, has things to develop. He needs to do that,” reports the Manchester Evening News.

Speaking again to the Manchester Evening News, Mourinho gave another update of Shaw in January, explaining why the defender continued to miss out in games despite his muscle troubles not being an issue at the time. “You try to have in the squad the players with more minutes, the players in better shape, in better condition.”

“In Luke Shaw's case, even in the game against Reading, when he could have started the game and had 90 minutes, in the morning of the game he was ill and not ready to play. So even in that match, which could have been good for him, he was not able to play, so he's having a difficult period.”

In April, Mourinho switched back to the offensive and lambasted the player for his lack of effort in training, saying: “I cannot compare the way he trains and commits, the focus, the ambition. He is a long way behind,” reports BBC Sport.

United looking to replace Shaw

And this season, he's been on the periphery from the off, playing second fiddle to the likes of Ashley Young, Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian. Manchester United have been heavily linked to Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose, a direct replacement for Shaw, with reports suggesting a January approach is in the offing. If Shaw fails to feature for United before the window opens, it's hard to see Mourinho staying patient.
Ahead of Tuesday's EFL Cup clash between Swansea City and Manchester United, reports were talking up the possibility of Shaw getting a start, but he ended up being largely humiliated by his manager and unsure of where his future lies. The former Southampton man is still young but has played so little in the last 18 months that he may consider a move away in search of more regular playing time.

There's likely to be some fallout after his cameo appearance against Swansea City, but it's hard to see Luke Shaw salvaging his Manchester United career after this latest insult by the manager.
Crippy Cooke

Crippy is a long-suffering Aston Villa supporter and weekly football accumulator enthusiast.

Stealing a living, the balding 27-year-old boasts a wealth of writing experience - Telegraph, Independent, Huffington Post, Zoo Magazine, Daily Mail, ITV Football, MSN Sport, Yahoo Sport, London 24 and Bleacher Report.

Total articles: 330

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