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Luke Shaw admits a testing spell under Jose Mourinho at Manchester United left him with “no confidence”, but the man-management skills of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have allowed him to reach a “new level”.
The 2020-21 campaign has been a memorable one for a full-back that many had written off at Old Trafford, with impressive consistency allowing him to nail down a role with the Red Devils and earn a recall to the England squad.
Shaw told Sky Sports of the struggles he endured in the recent past: “I dont want to come across like I was a little kid who could not deal with being put under pressure because at a big club like Manchester United you are always going to be under pressure and under the spotlight. That makes you mentally stronger.
“But I had no confidence at that time. I was losing my belief. I think that is what changed with Ole. He managed me right and I got my confidence back and I am really enjoying it at the moment.
“Enjoyment and confidence. For me, they are the two biggest things you need on the pitch. You need that belief in your ability to perform at the highest level. I feel I have that now.”
Shaw added on working with Solskjaer: “His man-management is second to none. The way he conducts himself in terms of how he speaks to the players, it gets the best out of them. You can see that. He deals with situations perfectly in terms of what is needed, especially at a big club like Manchester United.
“He takes the pressure off the lads and takes it all himself. Sometimes it is not fair because we are the ones on the pitch and we need to take our fair share too.
“For me, especially, from what I had before Ole came in, it is a total difference. It has pushed me to a new level.”
The arrival of Alex Telles from Porto in the summer of 2020 suggested that Shaw could have a fight on his hands at Old Trafford.
Added competition has, however, been fended off in style, with a buccaneering Brazilian having to make peace with filling a back-up role
That is because Shaw has figured in 36 games for United this season across all competitions, and he has recorded a goal and six assists through those outings, with a positive impact being made at both ends of the field.
Plaudits have rained down on Shaw as a result, with England boss Gareth Southgate among those to have been impressed as he welcomes a man with eight senior caps to his name back into the Three Lions fold for the start of 2022 World Cup qualification.