Luke Shaw cut out the ‘silly things’ and was rewarded with England return
Shaw has started the season as Manchester United’s first-choice left-back.
Luke Shaw has emerged from a tough period feeling stronger than ever after cutting out the “silly things”, winning over Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and earning an England recall.
Four years ago, the left-back became the most expensive teenager in history when leaving Southampton for Old Trafford, fresh from becoming the youngest player to feature at the World Cup.
By the time this summer swung around, Shaw was struggling for minutes at club never mind country.
Overlooked by Gareth Southgate for Russia having fallen out of favour with Mourinho, few could have blamed the 23-year-old for leaving United.
But he has knuckled down, started every match and won the club’s player of the month award with displays that brought an England recall.
“It’s been very hard,” Shaw said. “I had an unfortunate two years – or you could say three years – but now that’s in the past.
“I’m just looking forward. I feel really good, in great shape, my confidence is back.
“Obviously this is just the start of the season and the stuff that’s happened, everything that has happened – my injuries, not playing, this and that – is all in the past.
“Now I focus on the future and I focus on improving myself as a player and a person. This is sort of the start of a new me this season.”
Shaw repeatedly spoke about the future, but naturally the past was a cloud that lingered, such as his well-documented issues with United boss Mourinho.
“It was a very tough two years,” Shaw said.
“But I think mentally it made me come out the other side and made me stronger and made me want to prove to him that I can do what sometimes, in the last couple of seasons, he said I couldn’t.
“I think, at times, he got frustrated with me because he knew that I could do better.
“Maybe when I look back at times I think maybe he was right. But now I don’t want to keep focusing on that.
“I had a chat with the manager before the season and he said to me that he wanted me to stay and fight for my place, and that motivated me a lot over the off-season.
“I came back and played games in pre-season, and now I have my fitness fully and everything’s good.”
Shaw was “honoured and privileged” to get the text last Thursday morning informing of his recall to the England squad.
The 23-year-old made a brief bench cameo under Southgate in Germany in March 2017 but has not started for his country for three years, during which time his fitness has been called into question.
“I’ve not made massive changes because I was always looking out for that side, but I’ve cut out some of the silly things that I was doing,” Shaw said.
“I’m just training as I always have. I always say I’m a hard trainer, I want to improve every day.”
Pushed on those “silly things”, Shaw added: “People were saying that I was a fizzy drinker and a snack eater, which wasn’t true – but that’s stories that are normally always made up about me recently.
Luke Shaw: "I wouldn't say I made massive changes on the nutrition side. I've cut out some of the silly things I was doing... you could say I've maybe gone from a kid to a man now"— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) September 4, 2018
“I’ve changed massively, not just on the pitch but off the pitch.
“I’ve matured, grown up. You could say I’ve gone from maybe a kid to a man now, and I know what I need to do to push myself.
“I want to play for Manchester United. Obviously, I want to stay there and fight for my place and prove my worth to the team.
“Obviously I want to try and do the same here now and give Gareth a headache over selection.”