Much was made over Louis van Gaal’s comments about Luke Shaw not being fit over the past week. The left-back has been ordered to take part in separate training sessions from the rest of the squad in a bid to boost his fitness.
“I am always a trainer who sees the individuals and what each player needs,” Van Gaal said. “Luke needs to be fit and he’s not very fit and can’t perform how I want. He needs to be fit and to train individually. I can’t judge why. I see what I see. I have spoken with him and we have made a programme with him. He has agreed. We will have to see how long it takes. I don’t know. I have heard good messages from Tony Strudwick the fitness coach.”
Having just returned from the World Cup with England, it makes you wonder how Shaw, just 19-years-old, was in a position to be unfit.
When you compare England’s performances with Holland’s this summer, it is clear there was a huge difference in fitness. Whilst England tended to die after an hour or so in to the game, Holland repeatedly won games in injury/extra time. Van Gaal has high standards, higher than Roy Hodgson you could presume, and Shaw is paying the price for this.
After Van Gaal initially ruled Shaw out of playing in last night’s game against Inter Milan, he used him as a second half substitute.
“He is working very hard and he was lucky tonight,” the manager said after the game. “Normally we would play Reece James but he was injured. So I asked Luke if he would play. He did a very hard training session this morning but he said he would play and he still did very well.”
Shaw has responded well to Van Gaal’s methods though and claimed that he agrees with the feedback he’s received on his fitness.
“I am fit but I am not at the high level the manager demands,” he said. “I have got to get fitter to get up and down, but it’s something I have got to work on and, in this 45 minutes, I felt really good so I am looking forward to keep progressing to be ready for the start of the season.”
Shaw has revealed that life at United is much harder than he expected, with the step up from Southampton and England proving to be huge.
“Yeah, it was a surprise,” he said. “I didn’t come into United thinking it would be much harder. That’s something that I think I made a mistake on. I thought it was just going to be the same but it’s the biggest club in the world and there are world-class players in training. That is something that is going to push me on and it’s something I am looking forward to doing.”
Asked if van Gaal has been hard on him so far, Shaw said: “Yeah, but that’s something I want and I need to push on so they can do what they want but it will only help me in the long run.”