Mourinho prepared to mend fences with Shaw

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has made the first move to heal his strained relationship with England defender Luke Shaw.

The left-back's future has been cast into doubt following public criticism from the Portuguese, after he questioned the commitment of the 21-year-old, who was signed by previous manager Louis van Gaal from Southampton in 2014.

Shaw missed most of last season through injury, and has struggled to hold down a regular place since Mourinho took charge nine months ago.

However, after insisting he will do everything in his power to be a success at Old Trafford, the full-back made a rare start in front of England manager Gareth Southgate in a 3-0 win at Sunderland on Sunday that maintained United's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by securing a top-four finish.

Mourinho revealed how he considered substituting Shaw at half-time as a precautionary measure after the player received an early booking, but decided against such a course of action for fear of it being misinterpreted as a latest snub towards the player.

"Luke was one of a number of positive performances ," Mourinho said. "He played well. The opposition was not creating big problems, but he was solid and confident on the ball. He read the game well so it was good for him.

"I thought about a half-time change, but that was too harsh for him. I wanted him to play a little bit more, so then we're 2-0 up after an hour with their crowd asking for everything and putting the referee under pressure, I didn't want to take any risks because we have no players, and we need him to be available for the next match."

The win stretched United's unbeaten league run to 21 games as they climbed to fifth place, four points behind rivals Manchester City in fourth, with a game in hand.

Equally importantly for Mourinho, his depleted squad suffered no fresh injuries, as they prepare for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final trip to Anderlecht on Thursday, in which a Champions League spot awaits the winners.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho prepared to mend fences with Shaw'. Print Edition | Subscribe