On one hand, United are about to let go of – according to credible news outlets – full-back Luke Shaw in the Summer, who was not long ago, the most expensive teenage British transfer in the Premier League. 22-year old Luke Shaw, despite his obvious talent on and off the ball – has not been able to nail down the left-back position in the first team squad that is currently occupied by a 32-year old Ashley Young who is enjoying a career revival at Old Trafford.
What assessment of Shaw could be more honest and revealing than one from a direct rival who is keeping him out of the starting eleven?
Ashley Young mentioned a few interesting things when he touched on his opinion on Shaw and what is stopping him, besides his own form, from getting into Mourinho’s first choice XI in a candid chat on Radio 5 Live – in a way validating the criticism that Shaw has been attracting from the two managers he has so far played under, at Manchester United. The 32-year old said,
“Obviously, he [Shaw] is a player that wants to do well, I want to see him doing well. It’s like all players, you just have to get your head down and work.”
Asked if Luke Shaw can fight his way back into Mourinho’s plans, Young said:
“Yes, of course. He is a fantastic player. I feel he can be one of the best in the world. You’ve just got to work hard. We’ve got a healthy competition in our squad and when you’ve got world-class players training day in, day out, everybody wants to be in that team. It is tough. I’ve always said, when you join a club like United it’s a tough place to play at. But if you play and train and give 100%, then get your opportunity – I’ve always said you always get your opportunity there.”
On the other hand, United have in their hands – a full-back who is equally talented in Timothy Fosu-Mensah who is grafting his way into the Premier League – learning the ins and outs of the competition, the physical and mental rigours of the life of a Premier League footballer acclimatising himself to the pressure he will come under – once he rejoins the Red Devils under the tutelage of Mourinho, a characteristically demanding individual.
Fosu-Mensah is one of the few players who has really shone outside Man United. Under Roy Hodgson, the Dutch 20-year old has racked up 23 first team appearances for the Eagles (20 starts), playing primarily as a right back, learning his trade against some of the best wide forwards in Europe. One of a select group of young wingers that belong in the top tier, Leroy Sane, singled out the Dutchman in one of his interviews marking him out as the toughest full-back he had faced this season so far. For that to come from one of the most difficult players to defend 1 v 1 against – what with the season he and Manchester City are having in the Premier League, is something for Mourinho to ponder.
Sane, when asked about the toughest opponent he faced, he said with little hesitation,
“Timothy Fosu-Mensah. I have played against him twice this season, and even last season, he had me really well under control.”
It certainly makes for interesting reading and Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s performances in the league have not gone in vain even though they may ultimately prove futile should Palace fail to avoid the drop. Or would they?
Having received his first international call-up for the Netherlands, clearly a result of his consistency in England, it seems like a reintegration into Manchester United’s first team under the Portuguese is in order.
If anything, he is certainly made for it.