A few weeks ago, Luke Shaw’s Manchester United career appeared to be over.
Jose Mourinho publicly criticised the 21-year-old after leaving him out of the squad that drew 0-0 with West Brom on April 1.
"It's difficult for him to be on the bench. Because I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, or with Matteo Darmian, or with Daley Blind,” Mourinho told reporters, per Sky Sports, at the time. "I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind."
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Three days later and Shaw was surprisingly named in the United squad that drew 1-1 with Everton. The left-back came on for the final 25 minutes but was once again blasted by his manager after the match.
"He [Shaw] has lots of potential but the football brain and the professional brain has to be with the talent," Mourinho told BT Sport, per the Mirror, at the time. "He has to change his football brain.
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"He was doing things in the second half when he was reacting to my voice. If he was on the other side for sure he would not do it."
Shaw played for an hour in the 3-0 win over Sunderland the following weekend but was an unused substitute in the recent matches against Anderlecht and Chelsea, with Mourinho opting for Damian at left-back instead.
Shaw returned to starting line-up v Anderlecht
However, the Englishman returned to the starting line-up for Thursday night’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Anderlecht at Old Trafford.
He played the full 120 minutes and it’s patently clear, from his off-the-field comments to his performances on the pitch, that he’s determined to salvage his United career between now and the end of the season.
What Shaw said that impressed Mourinho
In his post-match press conference, Mourinho revealed that Shaw was due to come off before the start of extra-time, but that plan was scrapped following the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Shaw was suffering from cramp but the defender said something that impressed his manager.
Mourinho - per the Telegraph’s Sam Wallace - revealed that Shaw told him: “I will play 30 minutes with cramps, no problem.”
“He did something new and that means a lot for him,” Mourinho added.
Shaw's dedication has impressed Mourinho
The Portuguese coach was clearly impressed that Shaw had played through the pain barrier in order to help the team.
Such dedication will no doubt enhance his chances of remaining part of Mourinho’s squad beyond this summer.
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