Since his £30 million move from Southampton in 2014, it’s fair to say Luke Shaw’s Manchester United career has been a mixed bag.
It would take the most stubborn of devil’s advocates to claim the 21-year-old has justified his big-money fee just yet, but after another long time spent out of United’s Premier League squad he was back in action on Saturday.
Since Luke Shaw last started a Premier League for Manchester United, 126 days ago. pic.twitter.com/f7SQcx6eRJ— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 4, 2017
It was the first time he’s played for United in the league since October 29 and the youngster returned along with other United absentees Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick. But it was the young left back who really had people talking.
So, how did he get on?
Well, he got off to a bright start. There had been fears Shaw has been carrying the mental scars of the broken leg he suffered at the start of last season, yet a series of robust challenges here dispelled that theory.
The most crunching of them was delivered on Adam Smith in the build-up to United’s opener, which left Shaw limping and the Bournemouth player requiring treatment.
Luke Shaw gets stuck in early on in the game, taking the ball away from Bournemouth’s Adam Smith. pic.twitter.com/HZPZM0BCYN— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) March 4, 2017
Luke Shaw going into a crunching 50/50 tackle and winning it. That'll be a big mental 👍 for Shaw. Good lad!— The Peoples Person (@PeoplesPerson_) March 4, 2017
Great to see Luke Shaw ploughing into tackles like that...confidence has been a bigger issue than his fitness. Playing well today #MUFC— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) March 4, 2017
Going forward the youngster offered good support for French winger Anthony Martial on the left side, but not often bursting forward for the overlap.
Despite few runs forward at Bournemouth’s defence however, he did make a couple of very impressive passes upfield.
Luke Shaw creates a chance just 5 minutes into his first league start for 126 days.
Shaw had been out of United’s first-team picture for so long he may have questioned if he had any future at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho.
An interview earlier this year from the United manager will have given him encouragement however, where the Portuguese said in a few years the Englishman could be “the best of all” his left-sided defenders.
Shaw rewarded the testament from his manager with a great first half all in all – which will encourage Mourinho in return.
Luke Shaw's first half by numbers vs. Bournemouth:
100% tackles won
90% pass acc.
1 chance created pic.twitter.com/nyB0DA7AAq— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 4, 2017
In the end however it wasn’t destined to be much more than a promising first half for the left back. He made way along with his fellow long-term absentees on 70 minutes as United searched for a winning goal.
Shaw has completed 90 minutes only once in the previous three months and made just four appearances in all competitions since October. After Mourinho’s assurance Shaw is part of his plans, and with United still in the FA Cup and Europa League and fighting for a top-four spot, Shaw may have been withdrawn before the end to stay fresh for the future fixtures to come.
Mourinho makes a triple change...
OFF - Shaw, Rooney, Carrick
ON - Rashford, Fellaini, Lingard
Man Utd 1-1 Bournemouth (70 mins) #MUNBOU— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) March 4, 2017
Perhaps Shaw’s biggest impact on the match was a first half challenge he received from Andrew Surman which gave the Bournemouth man the first of his two yellow cards.
The ensuing one-player advantage looked like it might gift United the points but unfortunately for the Red Devils – despite an opportunity to win the game through a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty – the points were shared as the score finished one apiece.
Cheer up Jose – at least Shaw is back?