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Sunday 16 June 2019

Jose Mourinho: Luke Shaw can still shine at Manchester United

Wayne Rooney has been a peripheral figure at Old Trafford in recent weeks
Wayne Rooney has been a peripheral figure at Old Trafford in recent weeks

Jose Mourinho believes Luke Shaw has the potential to shine at Manchester United for years to come, despite not even including the left-back in many recent squads.

This was supposed to be a season to cherish for the 21-year-old after a bright start to the previous campaign was halted by a sickening double leg break.

Instead, Shaw has been restricted to just 14 matches as niggling issues on the comeback trail have made it hard to win over Mourinho.

The England international has made just one appearance since returning to fitness in mid-January, with his manager last week saying he had dropped down to fourth-choice left-back - despite being United's only specialist in the position.

Few could blame Shaw for fearing for his future, yet Mourinho, impressed by improved fitness levels, has named him in the squad for Saturday's Premier League match against Bournemouth and sees the full-back in his long-term thinking.

"I think I have the best right-back in the world and I rotate a lot in the right-back position," the United manager said.

"I think (Antonio) Valencia is absolutely phenomenal and we played this season Valencia, (Matteo) Darmian, Ashley Young, Eric Bailly, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe.

"I had six different right-backs on the pitch this season, so sometimes you do it by circumstances.

"In practical terms we have lots of left-backs. It doesn't look like it but the reality is that (Daley) Blind, Shaw, (Marcos) Rojo, Darmian are all playing left back and can play there. They are different players.

"I think the one that should be in the couple of years the best of all - because potentially he should have all the conditions to be the best of all - is Luke Shaw.

"By age, by physicality, by intensity, by being aggressive going forward, he should be the best. But to be the best you need to work hard. It's what he's trying to do."

Shaw should get game time given the EFL Cup winners remain fighting in the league, FA Cup and Europa League, leading to a bloated, uneven fixture list that means Mourinho will have to rotate smartly.

"The second position is very difficult but it's very possible," he said of United's Premier League chances. "First is impossible. Second is possible and we have to fight for it.

"The Europa League is very difficult, but it's a target for us and if we beat Rostov and we find ourselves in the quarter-final.

"Then we have to think really seriously about the Europa League because in this moment we are still in the last 16 .

"We are still far but when a team gets in the last eight and you go to the quarter-final draw.

"Quarter-final, you smell the final and then in a certain period of the season I have to analyse my team, the players, the conditions of everyone and if I have to make choices, I have to make choices.

"But choices that I would always share with my owners, with my board but it's not for now.

"For now it's just play - play against Bournemouth, play against Rostov, play against Chelsea, play against Rostov again and then let's see how we are in all the competitions, and try to make the right decisions."

Mourinho, who thinks the next transfer window will take United to a "different level", was in jovial mood as he met the media, opening proceedings by answering not-yet-asked questions about Shaw and Rooney.

The Portuguese has raised a smile on more than one occasion over recent weeks and added: "I think Manchester United learn I am not the monster that you [the media) say I am, I'm not such a bad guy, an arrogant guy, a different person to work with.

"At least until now nobody at the training ground runs away when I arrive. So people are quite happy to have me around and to work with me.

"I'm happy. My feeling is everyone is happy but obviously my contract is three years, not seven or eight months and I want evolution and improvement."

Mourinho hopes the right decision is made by the Football Association in terms of Marcus Rashford this summer.

It has been a whirlwind first year in the spotlight for the 19-year-old, who has established himself as an important player for club and country.

Rashford last summer went to Euro 2016 with England and could face another busy summer with the Under-21 European Championships a potential option.

"I don't know what to say, really," Mourinho said. "I don't know.

"I know that if the team goes until the end in different competitions every one of my players should finish the last game and disappear to some place where he could rest for a month and not think about football.

"Don't move one leg, just move the arm to get the glass. Disconnect totally.

"He's a young guy. Maybe every experience - if he is not exhausted - can help him to be a better player. Let's wait and analyse the situation when that comes."

Press Association

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