Saturday 17 March 2018

Manchester United's win over Hull probably meant more to Luke Shaw than anyone else

Ahmed Elmohamady of Hull City and Luke Shaw of Manchester United battle for possession. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Ahmed Elmohamady of Hull City and Luke Shaw of Manchester United battle for possession. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Tom Rooney

When considering the horrifying and potentially career ending double leg break he suffered last season, even the most strident of the anti-Manchester United brigade could not legitimately begrudge Luke Shaw a touch of good fortune.

That’s not to say anyone without a vested interest in United will have been jumping for joy as Shaw and his teammates basked in the glory of Marcus Rashford’s additional time winner over Hull City at a drenched KCOM Stadium.

Still, the sight of the 21-year-old in full flight was in welcome contrast to the one of him writhing in agony and clutching his shattered limb following a challenge from PSV Einthoven’s Hector Moreno during a Champions League group game last September.

His recovery included four operations and countless hours of rehabilitation before making a tentative return to training in April.

In his absence, United’s fortunes varied greatly as they missed out on Champions League qualification but clinched the FA Cup, prior to Jose Mourinho replacing Louis van Gaal.

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Luke Shaw suffered a broken leg during Manchester United’s game against PSV in September last year

Shaw quickly endeared himself to the Portuguese by refusing a summer holiday in favour of staying home to ensure he was at peak fitness for the campaign to come.

Indeed, he and right full Antonio Valencia have revelled in the greater freedom Mourinho allows his full backs to maraud up and down touchlines, as supposed to the Dutchman’s preference for them to pass laterally or backwards.

United appeared to be on the verge of ceding their perfect league start to the Mourinho era, as they continued to come up empty handed after countless assaults on the Hull goal.

But replacement Rashford latched onto Wayne Rooney’s sumptuous cross before pandemonium ensued and, going into the international break, United can enjoy their three consecutive wins.

For Shaw, who arrived from Southampton in June of 2014 as the then most expensive teenager in world football, fewer feelings have ever been sweeter than the sound of the final whistle and the elation in the away dressing room afterwards.

"I loved it,” he told MUTV.

“I think, emotion-wise, that was the best I’ve felt ever on a pitch. I’m just so happy that we could get the three points, not just for us but for the fans. They were unbelievable today.

"It was an unreal feeling and even a few of the lads in there (the dressing room) said it was like taking them back to the old days when they sometimes used to get those smash and grab wins. I loved it and hopefully there’s more to come.

"To have the fans celebrating with us made it even more special. As players we could see how much the result meant to the fans, and the fans could see how much it meant to us and the whole club."

However, amid all the revelry, Shaw made reference to United’s profligacy in front of goal – of their 29 attempts, only nine were on target, while they enjoyed over 60pc of the possession.

“At some point during the match I thought maybe we’re not going to manage to break them down. But we didn’t stop and we had chance after chance.

“We had chances flying over the bar and chances going wide. Luckily Marcus (Rashford) ended up in the right place at the right time and won us the game."

The England international also paid tribute to Mourinho for the introduction of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Rashford, though many on social media contested during the game that the former Chelsea boss should have unleashed the duo earlier. 

 “They changed the dynamic of the play. They completely changed the whole game. Credit to the manager there for bringing on the subs.”

Next up in the Premier League for United is the arrival of crosstown rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford on September 10.

Of course, the derby will mark the resumption of hostilities between Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, as each man seeks to lay down a marker for future domination. This, apparently, is not lost on Shaw.

"We want to win every game and this game is over now. We’ve got to focus on the international break but obviously we have the big game against Manchester City when we come back. We know matches like that can help us win championships," he said.

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