Luke Shaw has spoke rather candidly about his uncertain start at Manchester United, revealing that legendary full-back and England coach Gary Neville offered him valuable advice this summer.
Highly-rated Shaw became the Red Devils' second signing of the recent summer transfer window, moving to Old Trafford from Premier League rivals Southampton for a fee of £27 million just a day after Ander Herrera completed his own switch from La Liga outfit Athletic.
He was subsequently included in Roy Hodgson's squad for the World Cup in Brazil and made one appearance in the stalemate with Costa Rica that confirmed England's disappointing group stage exit.
Summer fitness struggle
Despite having already established himself on the south coast with a series of superb top-flight performances, Shaw initially seemed to struggle to adapt to life at Manchester United and was told in no uncertain terms during the club's annual pre-season tour of the United States that he simply had to improve his fitness in order to live up to the notoriously high standards expected by new manager Louis van Gaal.
To his immense credit, the 19-year-old positively channeled that particular piece of criticism and obviously worked extremely hard to improve before unfortunately sustaining a hamstring problem that ruled him out of the first five top-flight matches of the new campaign.
Shaw did eventually make his competitive Manchester United bow in Saturday's tight victory over West Ham at Old Trafford and afterwards spoke glowingly of Neville and the advice he received after deciding to depart St. Mary's.
"I speak to him and we chatted a lot at the World Cup finals in Brazil," he said of Neville - the undisputed club legend who has also become a widely respected television pundit since retiring in 2011 - in an interview with the Mirror.
“Obviously, at that point, I wasn't here, but he knew the Manchester United talk was going on and what was happening, so he gave me a lot of advice.
“It was mainly to keep fit and make sure I do everything in a professional way. He said I was going to see a massive change when I came to United and I've seen that."
Shaw went on to reveal that Neville has kept in touch since England's South American nightmare, with the latter providing further words of encouragement to a player who obviously has designs on emulating his achievements at Manchester United.
"Gary has played a big part and I've got his number as well," he continued.
"He's sent me a couple of texts so, hopefully, I can see him again when the next England squad comes around, if I'm included.
“To see what he has done, it's something magnificent, and if I can dream of that, just to do what he has done, it would be the most successful career. Hopefully I can be around as long as he was and become a legend too.”
With Van Gaal having recently suffered from somewhat of an injury crisis - one that led to little-known youngster Paddy McNair being handed his full senior debut last weekend - it must have been some relief for the Dutchman to have Shaw finally available for Premier League duty.
While his performance was solid enough, it turned out to be somewhat of a bruising afternoon for Shaw after he became involved in an off-the-ball altercation with West Ham striker Diafra Sakho that only came to light after the match and left the Manchester United man sporting a bruise around his eye.
The Senegalese striker will face no retrospective action over the incident, however, after a three-man panel of referees studied the game footage and decided that there was no case to answer.