Shaw on way out as Mourinho runs out of patience
United manager lets rip at full-back's attitude and lack of focus
Jose Mourinho has signalled that Luke Shaw's Manchester United career is over, arguing that the England international's attitude is now so poor he no longer deserves even a place on the bench.
Shaw has not played for United since a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at Old Trafford nearly a month ago.
And, even though Manchester United are hampered by injury and suspensions, Mourinho insists there was no chance of the left-back even being named as a substitute for tomorrow's match against Everton. "It is difficult for him to be on the bench," he argued. "I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, with Matteo Darmian, with Daley Blind. I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind."
Reminded that Shaw is an England international who was rated to be one of the Premier Leaguee's brightest defensive talents when he came to Old Trafford from Southampton, Mourinho retorted: "Joe Hart is an England international and is playing on loan in Italy."
Shaw was not named on the United bench for Saturday's 0-0 stalemate against West Bromwich Albion, which marked the Red Devils' eighth home draw of the season.
However, the 21-year-old did take part in a five-a-side session on the Old Trafford pitch after the match along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera, Wayne Rooney and three rivals for the full-back position - Darmian, Blind and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Shaw was the last to leave the pitch.
Relations between Shaw and Mourinho first came under strain in the summer of 2014 when, as a 19-year-old, negotiations over a move from Southampton to Chelsea collapsed over Shaw's wage demands.
Although Shaw's family are Chelsea supporters, Mourinho said that paying a teenager £130,000 a week would have "killed the club". He signed Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid instead.
At the time, Mourinho said: "If we pay a 19-year-old boy what we are being asked for to sign Luke Shaw, we are dead. We would have killed our stability with financial fair play and killed the stability in the dressing room. We would have had players knocking on our door, saying: 'How come I play 200 games for Chelsea, win this and that, and a 19-year-old comes here and gets more money?'"
United, then managed by Louis van Gaal, did think this was a price worth paying, along with a transfer fee of £27m.
However, in September 2015, Shaw suffered a horrendous fracture of his fibula and tibia in a Champions League fixture in Eindhoven. It caused him to miss Euro 2016.
Since Mourinho's arrival at Old Trafford, Shaw has been a frequent target of his manager's jibes.
Mourinho was said to be incensed by the sight of Shaw chatting to the Bournemouth players after last month's bitterlty-contested match.
Despite the breakdown in Shaw's relationship with Mourinho, United are unwilling to offload the player - who has just over two years to run on his £130,000-a-week contract - on the cheap, even if hopes of recouping the £28m they paid Southampton for the player in 2014 may be optimistic, given his dramatic fall from grace.
Shaw would love to be reunited with Mauricio Pochettino, his former Southampton manager with whom he maintains a good relationship, at Tottenham Hotspur, but his prospects of a move to White Hart Lane would appear to hinge on Danny Rose leaving the club.
Rose has attracted strong interest from Manchester City, but Tottenham's eagerness to keep him, the left-back's £50m valuation, and the difficulties of negotiating with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy offer no guarantees City will pursue a deal.
Shaw wasn't the only player on Mourinho's mind after Saturday's match and he was withering about his forward line of Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, arguing they had shown no consistency.
And, with Juan Mata likely to miss the rest of the season with a groin injury, Mourinho warned that the return of the suspended Ibrahimovic against Everton would not necessarily be a panacea for a team struggling to win at home.
"We have had matches here with Zlatan that we drew," he said. "He missed a penalty to win the game against Bournemouth. He missed chances like other people do. I cannot say that, if Zlatan and Mata had played, we would have won (against West Brom). What I can say is that (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling would not have played better than (Eric) Bailly and (Marcos) Rojo did and that (Paul) Pogba and (Ander) Herrera would not have played better than (Michael) Carrick and (Marouane) Fellaini. I can say that for sure."
United's faltering effort to finish in the Premier League's top four is becoming such an issue for Mourinho that he is seriously considering saving his best players for the Europa League. United are in the quarter-finals of that competition, with a two-legged tie against Anderlecht to come later this month. Win that tournament, and a place in the Champions League will be secured.
On the evidence of Saturday's turgid draw against West Brom, it seems a likelier bet than catching Manchester City and Liverpool in the chase for fourth place.
For West Brom, read Stoke City, Burnley, West Ham, Hull City and Bournemouth. Each of those teams have come to Old Trafford this season with a defensive mindset, given up most of the possession, and still come away with a point.
Failure to beat Everton at home tomorrow, and Sunderland away next Sunday, will prompt Mourinho to prioritise Europe. "I just want to think that against Everton, we are going to do what we tried to do against West Brom, to try to play with our best team, and try to win the match," he said.
"And after Everton, we go to Sunderland with the same perspective. And then, after Sunderland, the Europa League comes, and then I don't know.
"Then, it's possible that you see me play in the Premier League with a team where I'm going to protect the players that I consider fundamental for the Europa League. But only, only if the results in the next matches put us in a situation where mathematically, it becomes almost impossible to do it."
Rashford had two 30-yard efforts well pushed away by Albion's former United goalkeeper Ben Foster in the second half, but his link-up play was poor.
As United laboured, West Brom almost snatched the unlikeliest of victories as David de Gea made a mess of Darren Fletcher's long-range shot, fumbling it on to the crossbar before the ball dropped into his arms.
Independent News Service