Jose Mourinho has explained why he brought off Luke Shaw during Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, pointing towards his first half booking and a desire to preserve his confidence going forward.
The 21-year-old made just his second start of 2017 at the Stadium of Light and delighted supporters with another energetic, dedicated performance on the left hand side, capped off by an assist for Henrikh Mkhitaryan after 46 minutes.
He was withdrawn on the hour mark and replaced by Daley Blind, who helped Mourinho’s men close out a comfortable win.
And the Portuguese, speaking after the game, noted that he didn’t want to take any risks with Shaw.
“I took Shaw off because of the yellow card and the pressure from the crowd. It was good to protect him,” he said.
“It was also good for him to play one hour with a good solid performance and no mistakes, so I’m really pleased for him.”
Replacing Shaw after an hour was most likely premeditated by Mourinho. The Englishman, prior to the clash with David Moyes’ side, had only managed 95 minutes since October, and leaving him on may have left an unnecessary taint on what was a truly convincing performance.
The 54-year-old has made it clear to Shaw that his future at Old Trafford essentially hinges on whether he can reach the standard of fighting spirit required to succeed at this level. His response was emphatic: devoted, fearless, positive on the ball and positionally astute throughout. United fans will hope to see more of the same as the season goes on.