Everybody is allowed an Ibiza gut.
Picture the scene, it’s April 2014 and Luke Shaw is buccaneering (‘cos that’s what fullbacks do, like some sort of pirate) down the Southampton wing, putting in another performance that justifies his place in the PFA team of the year.
Ashley Cole’s dominance as England’s first choice left back has reached its end, it looks like ideal timing for the swashbuckling Shaw to take his place.
It’s June 2014 and Luke Shaw signs for Manchester United after much speculation – but a combination of alleged fatness, injuries and a bad attitude see Luke Shaw spend the next four years finding no form and only bad press as those from the same generation continue to flourish.
There’s no doubt Shaw has had it tough after recently sporting a bit of holiday weight in Ibiza. He has recently defended himself by saying he has a “Wayne Rooney style body”.
Some will find this comment bizarre, but Rooney was a big lad and at times it’s what made him the player he was, providing him with the strength to hold off defenders and either set up or score goals. One of Shaw’s key attributes is also his strength, setting him apart from other full backs who are relying primarily on pace and providing him with physicality for defensive situations.
Shaw has been first choice for United in their pre-season fixtures. Ashley Young really made the left back role his own last season, but is currently on a post World Cup break and Shaw is trying his utmost to stake a claim to the left back spot.
If he pulls this off it could be significant to both United’s and England’s fortunes for years to come. As for Young, this season may represent the start of his senior years and the search for a replacement.
To summarise, for Shaw it comes down to this: remain fully fit and on form and the rewards could be rich, with England and United looking for a long term option at left back.
Failure could see Shaw in the wilderness however, with a contract due to expire at the end of the season, United would be expected to let him go and give somebody else the opportunity. The England door may also be closed in Shaw’s face, with Southgate apparently not the type of international manager to have a huge turnover of playing personnel. He’ll opt instead to keep his squad as tight knit as possible, this approach to squad selection may see Danny Rose as the long term option and Shaw frozen out.
Tomorrow is the turn of a scouser in London…