Luke Shaw‘s impressive performances this season have been a long time coming. Since his move to Manchester United in 2014, he has been scapegoated publicly, first for his fitness, then his performances, then literally anything else Jose Mourinho. Shaw’s patience and willpower deserve awards, from almost losing a leg to being able to hold your tongue while Mourinho claims he “talked him through” your best performance last season requires monk-levels of calm.
When he joined from Southampton, Shaw was touted to become England’s number one left-back for the next decade. Instead, Shaw has still to reach 50 league appearances for Manchester United. Nonetheless, Shaw looks to be reaching the light at the end of a four-year tunnel as he has started the 2018/19 season with aplomb. So much so, he has earned a call-up to the first England squad post-World Cup. In honour of his call-up, let’s have a look at the statistics and see where the 23-year-old has improved so much.
Young is old, Rose has wilted
Yes, that was two puns in the one heading. Ironically, Shaw’s starting position this season is due to 33-year-old Ashley Young still recovering from the World Cup. His Indian summer is arguably the height of his career, yet could spell the end of his Manchester United years if Shaw continues his form.
We are only four games into the season, but with Ashley Young not being a long-term solution and Danny Rose being hung out to dry by Tottenham, Shaw’s main competition this year is Ryan Bertrand, who also missed out on the World Cup but has started the season just as brightly.
Bertrand and Shaw have increased their attacking output so far this season, both scoring a goal so far. Defensively, both are equal at 1.8 tackles per 90, with Luke Shaw averaging more interceptions (1.3 to 0.8). With Manchester United being asked questions defensively, and Southampton likely to be in the thick of it at the bottom of the table, both players have seen plenty of action in their own box. However, it’s Shaw again who averages more than double the clearances per 90, with 3.5 compared to 1.5. His superiority is summed up by Whoscored’s overall rating, with Shaw far ahead of his rivals with an average rating of 7.27 compared to Bertrand’s 6.96.
The Difference a Summer Can Make
Perhaps it would be better to compare Luke Shaw to himself last season, to show beyond doubt that he is England’s most improved left-back, and is still capable of reaching the potential he had four years ago.
The statistics aren’t even close, Shaw has more than tripled his interceptions per game, with 1.3 per 90 compared to 0.4, even with Manchester United looking shakier this season, that is still a huge jump in level. A by-product of this is his fouls increasing from 0.4 to 1 per 90, however, as long as no fouls lead to a goal it’s an acceptable increase.
Mourinho has been forced into giving Luke Shaw an extended starting place at Manchester United, and the left-back has grabbed the opportunity he has been waiting four years for with both hands. Shaw looks confident, rejuvenated, free of injury and the statistics show he has the quality to back it up. He is undoubtedly earned a call-up to the England squad, and this season will prove whether or not he can hold down that starting spot long-term.