The 24-year-old has had numerous injury problems in his Old Trafford career and has often had more than his fair share of criticism.
‘You need to have a thick skin to play football anywhere, but especially at the biggest club in the world here at United’ he reflected. ‘Everyone’s watching and wants to have a go whenever you lose … This is Manchester United. You know why you’re here. You’ve got to prove the critics wrong.’
Since his return from a muscle injury on December 1st, Shaw has started all but one of the Red Devils’ Premier League games.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has even employed 5ft 11inch Shaw as a centre back in recent matches in an experimental 3-4-3 system.
But it is the left back slot that is his bread and butter and Shaw spoke out about the competition from the 19-year-old for the position. ‘I relish the challenge from him 100 per cent. In the past people have come in at left-back who have maybe been switched from other positions … Since I’ve been here there hasn’t really been that much competition. Now there is and that’s good for me, not just the club.’
The Kingston-upon-Thames born player feels that the team had bonded well at the Reds’ recent winter training camp. ‘It’s been hard work but the big bonus has been the bonding side of it, out here everyone’s together pretty much all the time.’
The highlight of the week was a game of paintball and Shaw thought he had acquitted himself well. ‘The best shot? You’re talking to him! Victor and Harry were pretty good too – and of course you had a few wusses who were hiding at the back!’
On a more serious note, Shaw also talked about how the players have been letting manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer down and that the Norwegian has been taking too much of the blame for the Red Devils’ recent poor performances. ‘We’re all aware how the manager has tried to take the criticism on himself this season … We admire him for that, but there does come a time as a player when you have to look at yourself and realise that it’s all on you. The manager can’t keep defending us and taking the criticism.’
The England international said that it is now up to the players to step up and take the pressure off their beleaguered manager. ‘It’s up to us now – we’re the ones who need to shoulder the blame and start performing on the pitch … Ole is different to managers I’ve played for in the past at United who have not been slow in criticising us … But there isn’t a lot he can do once we go out onto the pitch. Then it is down to us.’
The former Southampton man added that ‘Playing Chelsea is a good place to start’ and will hope that the Red Devils can get three points at Stamford Bridge tomorrow against the club he grew up supporting.
Odion Ighalo is set to make his debut for United in next week’s game against Chelsea. But how much do you know about Man United’s African players over the years? Take our quiz to test your knowledge!