Luke Shaw has been one of Manchester United’s best players this season, and the England left-back has attributed his recent purple patch to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Shaw, 25, has proven the vital artery of The Red Devils‘ backline in 2020/21 as the club chase Europa League glory and a runners-up position in the Premier League, combining attacking verve and a defensive solidity to shore up Solskjaer’s left flank.
Such has been Shaw’s form this season that he has created more chances than any other full-back in Europe’s top five leagues (66), outranking the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Juan Cuadrado, Raphael Guerreiro and Jordi Alba.
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In fact, only Kevin De Bruyne (73), Jack Grealish (75), Mason Mount (77) and Bruno Fernandes (89) have created more chances than Shaw in the Premier League, with the attack-minded defender now rubbing shoulders with the division’s playmaker kingpins.
It’s the kind of form that has kept summer recruit Alex Telles out of the side, with the Brazilian joining from Porto having scored 11 goals and registered eight assists in the Portuguese top flight last season, stellar attacking metrics for a full-back.
But, as Man Utd prepare to face Roma in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie on Thursday night, Shaw has explained exactly why he has been undroppable at the back, crediting manager Solskjaer with his flourishing form.
When asked what has been the catalyst in his recent spike of form, Shaw replied: “A lot of things. One of them is the manager, and I’m not just saying that as he’s sat next to me.
“Myself as well, I’ve changed a lot of things and I believe in myself more and I feel a lot more confident the most important thing is I am just enjoying playing football again and that is important thing to have for our job, you need to enjoy it and I’m doing that.
“The team is going in right direction and I want to be part of it so I need to keep high performances up to keep myself in the team because there is competition all over the squad and I want to keep improving and get getting better and keep helping the team to push to get trophies.”
Rio Ferdinand: Shaw is Man Utd’s ‘new Patrice Evra’
Despite clinching Man Utd’s esteemed ‘Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year’ award in 2018/19, becoming to first Englishman to win the accolade since Wayne Rooney in 2009/10 and the first defender since Nemanja Vidic the season prior, Shaw believes this current campaign is his “best” as a Red Devil.
He said: “The season I won player of the year you could have picked anyone out of the hat, I don’t think there was a standout person that season.
“I think this season is my best and I’m enjoying it and I need to keep working hard and keep improving and I feel like I can keep getting better and give more to the team and I need to be doing that and keep going and keep my head down and what will come, will come.”
Rio Ferdinand, who was unlucky not to win the award himself during his Man Utd playing days, recently compared Shaw to left-back immortal Patrice Evra, who won five Premier League titles with the club over the course of his eight-year stint at Old Trafford.
Ferdinand explained: “I think Luke Shaw is very similar. Between the boxes, Patrice was the best left-back of our generation.
“He could drive up the pitch on his own with the ball, I’ve not seen anything like it in between the boxes.
“But in their box, did he pick out people as much as Ashley Cole maybe, or Leighton Baines? No. And was he as good defensively as Ashley Cole? I’d say maybe not.
“By the way, in both boxes, aerially, he was brilliant. Patrice was a brilliant player. I see a little bit of that in Shaw – between the boxes, he’s unreal.”