The defender’s confidence was shot under Jose Mourinho in particular, but his current boss has helped to restore his faith in himself
Luke Shaw admits that he has had a “difficult couple of years” at Manchester United, but says that the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Norwegian’s man-management skills have got his Old Trafford career back on track.
Shaw was signed by Louis van Gaal back in 2014 for a fee of £34 million ($41m), with the then 20-year-old having been named in the 2013-14 PFA Team of the Year due to his superb performances for Southampton.
The England international struggled to find his feet in his new surroundings, however, with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson leading to a succession of managers failing to get the best out of a squad that had won the Premier League in the Scot’s final season in charge.
Jose Mourinho in particular caused problems for Shaw, with the Portuguese publicly calling out the left-back on several occasions and leaving his confidence knocked.
But Shaw was granted a new lease of life under Solskjaer, who the 24-year-old credits with restoring his confidence and harmony within the squad.
“A massive one,” Shaw told Man Utd’s official website of the impact Solskjaer has had on his career. “He’s helped me a lot on the pitch, but more so he’s been one of the biggest influences off the pitch too, with the way he handles players.
“He knows what players need. I had a difficult couple of years before he came in; I think maybe he realised that and knew what I needed. He’s really helped me off the pitch. He obviously believes in me, he tells me that.
“That’s the confidence you need as a player: to have the manager believe in you.”
Shaw added that there is a great deal of respect within the squad for Solskjaer, but that his personality has allowed players to form a more personal bond away from the pitch.
“We also get on really well, and that’s a key thing: your relationship off the pitch,” he said. “I know he’s the manager, and we all have massive respect for him, but it’s also important to have a nice relationship off the pitch too sometimes, when things aren’t too serious.”
And after a turbulent seven years since the departure of Ferguson, Shaw fully believes Solskjaer is the man to take the club forward into a successful future.
“There really is a great feel about this group of lads now,” he added. “And that has been the case for a while. I’ve seen a lot of changes during my time at United and I have to say that Ole has been responsible for a large amount of the improvements around the place.
“When he came in, he knew what was needed, what had to change to get things up and running again. He’s signed people who aren’t just good players, but also really good lads as well. They’ve integrated in the squad really well and brought a bit more energy and togetherness in the group.”