Few players have had a Manchester United career as up and down as that of Luke Shaw. Lurching between maligned over issues of form or fitness or hailed as a top performer, with nicknames like Shawberto Carlos, the 27-year-old had always been a source of frustration.
But all that seems to have changed. Since being restored to the team at half time of the chastening 6-3 loss at Manchester City, Shaw has only missed 25 minutes of league football and has been one of the manager’s most consistent performers.
We’ve seen Shaw play as left-back, we’ve even seen him play as the left-sided central defender in a back three. What no one was ready for, was Luke Shaw being the left-sided central defender in a back four and we certainly weren’t ready for how he would take to the role, which is a testament to both himself, the manager and coaching staff.
It’s this unexpected transformation that has arguably made him a key cog of the manager’s system as his ability with his left foot combined with his strength and pace has allowed him to replace Lisandro Martinez without too much disruption to the way Erik ten Hag wants play.
Ten Hag was quick to point out that it was Shaw who initially volunteered to play the role during a defensive injury crisis, but the manager was reluctant.
Shaw’s performances there have garnered yet more praise and United look no worse for it. Shaw has quietly made himself into an essential piece of Ten Hag’s tactical jigsaw and as he enters his prime years it could be very exciting to see how this develops.