Manchester United face basement side Sunderland on Sunday (1.30 pm kick-off) in serious need of three points to keep the pressure on the Premier League’s top four.
Jose Mourinho’s men drew at home to West Brom and Everton earlier in the week to slip to sixth in the table, and four points behind neighbours Manchester City in fourth.
The Red Devils do have two games in hand on their city rivals, but points on the board are just as valuable at this stage of the campaign, which is why Mourinho’s side cannot afford another slip up against former boss David Moyes and his Sunderland side this weekend.
It is looking increasingly likely that United’s best chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season is by winning this term’s Europa League, of which they are in the last eight, yet with so much to play for between now and May, it hasn’t stopped speculation building about potential incomings and outgoings at Old Trafford this summer.
And one man who has been linked with a move away from the club is England defender Luke Shaw, who has found things incredibly tough under Mourinho this season.
With just seven Premier League starts and a handful of scathing comments from his manager, things clearly aren’t quite right for the 21-year-old at Old Trafford, and that is a big reason why he should quit United and move to Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham in the summer.
There’s little doubt that, when fully fit and in form, Shaw is as good a left-back as anyone in the Premier League. Yet he seems miles away from that at the moment.
And the public criticism, arguably humiliation, from manager Mourinho is hardly going to endear him to the Portuguese.
He questioned his commitment in training following the 0-0 draw with West Brom on Saturday, and although he returned to the side against Everton, Mourinho again criticised him on Tuesday, stating that he cannot think for himself, and that he needs to ‘change his football brain’.
Obviously, something isn’t quite right between Shaw and Mourinho, be it that the latter is frustrated given how good he knows Shaw can be, or whether the defender really is still struggling for form and confidence – remember, it was only 18 months ago he suffered that horrific double leg break.
Nonetheless, a move to Spurs would surely help reinvigorate Shaw’s career as, based on Pochettino’s track record thus far, he would back him and give him the chance to shine.
It was the Tottenham boss who helped developed him back at Southampton between 2013 and 2014, and it was under him that Shaw earned the first of his seven England caps, and looked set to be the nation’s next long-term left-back.
However, it hasn’t worked out like that due to the great form of Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose, and the latter’s potential move to Manchester City this summer makes it even more imperative that Pochettino makes a move for Shaw.
26-year-old Rose has been sensational for club and country in the last 18 months, and would be a huge loss to Spurs should he make the move north to Manchester this summer given his incredible energy down the flanks, and his ability to affect things in both boxes.
However, Pochettino isn’t afraid to give young, English players an opportunity in the first team, so should Rose leave for City, he would be wise to make a move for Shaw.
The 21-year-old clearly needs backing and some confidence from somewhere to help him get back to the level that had him down as England’s next great left-back, and Pochettino’s track record suggests that he’d do just that.
It may not be working at the moment for Shaw, but a run of games, some good performances, and an increase in confidence will surely make a massive difference, but is he going to get that at United? Doubtful.
Thus, he should seriously consider quitting Old Trafford for Tottenham this summer.