Erik ten Hag has heaped praise on Luke Shaw for his performances as a centre-back having played there in the last two league wins for Manchester United.
Shaw has been filling the position as Lisandro Martinez returns to full fitness following his involvement in Argentina’s World Cup win, and the Englishman has been involved in clean sheets against Nottingham Forest and Wolves.
In that time, he has kept Harry Maguire out of the team and formed a fine partnership with Raphael Varane, who had a long run with France himself.
READ: Harry Maguire told to find new club by Man Utd legend
That has raised further questions over Maguire’s future at the club, as he has endured a tough season with under Ten Hag and could well depart soon.
Ten Hag heaps praise on Shaw
Speaking to the media, Ten Hag said: “You have a plan, sometimes it changes by circumstances like illnesses. Casemiro did well at centre-half, like Shaw against Forest.”
“The way we were to approach Wolves, I thought it was the best match with Rapha (Varane) and Luke, you know the speed of Wolves over the right side and he could cover that.
READ: Man Utd’s plans for long-term Maguire replacement take hit
“We wanted to attack on the left side with an offensive game from Tyrell Malacia and, in possession with a left footer, you get better angles on the pitch.
“He was impressing but he is also good as a left full-back. It’s an extra option which is always good,” he added, suggesting he may just
stick with Shaw if Martinez is unavailable.
Ten Hag has always preferred the right and left-foot combination from his two centre-halves – he did the same at Ajax with various duos.
It was Matthijs de Ligt and Daley Blind at the start, then it evolved to Jurrien Timber and Martinez before he brought the latter along with him to Manchester United.
“You have your ideas and a plan, but sometimes it changes by circumstances.” 🗣️
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was asked about his defensive options, including playing Luke Shaw ahead of Harry Maguire 👀⬇️ pic.twitter.com/bVmSj9stXS
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) January 2, 2023
There was a lack of quality left-footers at Manchester United when he joined, which is why he found it essential to bring in Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.
That may just be a problem for Maguire, who is likely to only displace Varane if the Frenchman is unavailable, as ball Shaw is emerging as an alternative for Martinez.
Ball progression is a vital part of Ten Hag’s style of play and although Maguire has a good pass on him, the angles, as the manager mentioned, aren’t quite what a left-footer can provide, and that could be trouble for the Englishman.