Whether you’re a Manchester United fan or not, Luke Shaw’s horrific injury on Tuesday night is something you would never wish on anybody. You could be the most cold-hearted individual out there, but watching the close-up footage of that challenge is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. After starting the season so well for both club and country, the 20-year-old is now likely to miss the rest of the 2015-16 campaign and possibly the European Championships next summer. It is a deeply devastating situation for the young man to find himself in.
After a disappointing start to his career in Manchester, which was mainly hampered by injury, Shaw had started to show the form that had interested a number of big suitors in the Premier League and in Europe, including both Chelsea and Real Madrid. United, however, were willing to gamble on the young Englishman, paying Southampton around £27 million and Shaw himself approximately £120,000 per week in order to lure him to Old Trafford. It was clear he had the talent, but whether he could live up to that huge price tag was a different story altogether.
At first Shaw struggled. During his first season at United the full-back only managed 20 appearances in all competitions. Due to injury and also down to the fact that his manager Louis Van Gaal suggested that he was not fit enough to secure a regular starting place, Shaw in the end did well to compete in that many matches. Then when he was starting to slowly get back to match fitness he was kept out of the side, particularly from March onwards, by fellow team-mate Daley Blind who was impressing in the left-back position. So Shaw had to wait. However, when his time did arrive, he was arguably United’s best player.
During United’s pre-season tour of America, a new-look Shaw was playing brilliantly. Stronger, sharper and faster, the young Englishman was replicating the performances he delivered time and time again in a Southampton shirt. United fans were finally beginning to see, if they hadn’t already, what this kid was all about. Shaw continued this remarkable form into the start of the new Premier League season, playing in every game and arguably being United’s stand-out performer in each match. However, on Tuesday night, against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, Shaw’s season was ended in drastic circumstances.
After a brilliant trademark burst into the box, Shaw was challenged by PSV defender Hector Moreno. At first glance there didn’t seem to be a problem, but as the ball flew out for a corner and Shaw remained completely unmoved on the turf, it was obvious that something serious had happened. Shaw suffered a double leg break and after receiving oxygen on the pitch for near enough ten minutes, he was then taken to hospital where he underwent surgery. After watching the replay, United could have easily been awarded a penalty and Moreno arguably could have been walking back to the dressing room. It was a forceful and rather reckless challenge that went unpunished. The Mexican did play the ball, but in this day and age and the way football has changed over the years, the sheer force of the challenge would have been enough for many referees to brandish the red card. However, according to former United captain Roy Keane the tackle on Shaw was a fair one. He said “I thought it was a brilliant challenge. I love the physical side of the game.” The physical side of the game is fantastic but considering the consequences of Moreno’s tackle it is a quite unbelievable thing for Keane to say. There’s physical, and then there’s ending someone’s career, something which the Irishman has done intentionally over the years. Maybe I shouldn’t be that shocked by Keane’s opinions after all.
Fortunately, Shaw’s injury isn’t a career-ending one. Hopefully he will be back to full fitness for the start of next season. Although it is possible, it is highly unlikely that he will return during this current campaign. The 2-1 defeat to the Dutch champions was severely overshadowed by what happened to the England full-back on Tuesday night. It is good to hear that Moreno has apologised for the tackle but it is even better to hear that he has visited Shaw in hospital. It was the right thing to do and he will be applauded for it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t improve anything for a 20-year-old lad who has had his season dramatically cut short. I, along with every single Manchester United and England supporter, am extremely gutted for the young man. To have worked so hard to finally get to where you want to be, I can only imagine how disappointing it must be for him. Age is on his side though, and I am sure he will bounce back from this and establish himself as his club and country’s first choice left-back for many years to come. The whole nation will be wishing him a safe and speedy recovery. Get well soon, Luke.