Luke Shaw has claimed he is in agreement with manager José Mourinho after the Manchester United boss insisted the left-back must improve. After a meeting between the two, Shaw revealed he said, "I'm going to prove you wrong'".
The 21-year-old had been heavily criticised for a number of weeks by Mourinho for a lack of commitment in training and then, shockingly, for a lack of football intelligence.
Many fans and ex-players were disappointed with Mourinho’s comments on Shaw’s football brain after he said the English full-back had played well because he’d had Mourinho shouting constantly from the touchline.
Shaw reveals early Utd criticism was tough
Shaw, however, who started only his second league game of 2017 in last weekend’s 3-0 win against Sunderland, told SkySports that he agrees with his manager.
“The criticism was very hard,” Shaw admitted. “But I’ve had it before. This time around I dealt with it better.”
David Moyes had sought Shaw’s signature but the left-back joined at the start of the Louis van Gaal era. At that point, his weight was frequently and publicly discussed.
"When I first came to United there was a lot of discussion about me and that was hard, it was something that was new to me. I was used to positive feedback and comments in the media but coming to United everything changed, there was negativity.”
Speaking to Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves, Shaw conceded that he took that early criticism “badly” and it “knocked [him] down a bit.”
Shaw insists he'll prove Mourinho wrong
“This time I've come back wanting to fight and I want to prove everyone wrong. At the end of my meeting with the manager, I said 'I'm going to prove you wrong'. I believe and want to do that, not just for myself but for the fans that have been behind me and supported me through this time.”
Despite what most saw as an impressive return to league football, against AFC Bournemouth, he still drew criticism from Mourinho. However, while the Portuguese boss has certainly appeared to be harsh, it may be just what Shaw needs, and Mourinho hasn’t been adverse to praising Shaw either.
The England international said that he “can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” and even went as far to say that he “wished the season wasn’t coming to an end,” because he wants to plays more matches while he gets back into the groove of elite football.
It has been a tough 18 months for Shaw. After starting the 2015/16 season as United’s best player in storming form, a superb run from Shaw that could have resulted in his first goal for the club drew a tackle from PSV Eindhoven’s Hector Moreno, snapping his leg and keeping him out for the rest of the season.
Mourinho's praise means a lot, says Shaw
Excluded from first-team squads by Mourinho for a number of months, Shaw had to work. Mourinho clearly didn’t think he was doing enough.
Shaw told Sky that he wants to keep his first team spot. He’s only returned in the last three games, though, and he admitted that he’s simply at “the start of turning the corner,” and is not quite there yet.
While Mourinho’s treatment of Shaw has been criticised, the youngster has reacted well to them.
"When he said 'good performance' when I came off the pitch it made me feel better as a person and more confident than I already was,” he said.
"It was very important for me to get those minutes, they were a good 60 minutes. I was disappointed not to have played the full 90 but the manager was positive with me and it was lovely to see.
"I had a really good chat with him (after the criticism) and I totally agree with him - I will do whatever he wants."
Shaw pleased with Mourinho meeting
"I've always been a hard worker but maybe, if I look back, maybe I wasn't working as hard as he likes.
"We had a really good talk and he discussed what he wanted from me and even in a week-and-a-half I've seen a massive change in myself, not just on the pitch but off it as well.
"Now it's my time to fight until the end of the season and show the boss what I can bring to help his team."
Shaw wasn't in the starting line-up in the Reds' 1-1 draw with Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg in Brussels, so could start against Chelsea on Sunday, with kick-off at 4PM.