It turns out Louis van Gaal’s ‘get fitter’ plea to new Manchester United recruit Luke Shaw was not the first time the teenager was warned about how hard he’d have to work.
England boss Roy Hodgson yesterday said the 19-year-old had been told – after his selection for the World Cup – in Brazil how tough training at the very top level is.
Shaw, signed for £27million in June, injured his hamstring during United’s pre-season tour of the USA, has not played since and will now miss England’s Norway friendly next week as well as the first Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland on September 8.
Shaw certainly has time on his side and will likely grow into a top prospect, given his performances last season for Southampton, but his first priority is to get into the shape of his life.
“I think he’s been aware of it, Luke, and he will get fitter and stronger, not least of all because he’s still a very young man and his body has not yet reached its proper proportions for the level he wants to play at,” said Hodgson.
“I think you need to speak to Mauricio Pochettino, who spent a lot of time with Luke, as they [Southampton] brought him in as a 16 or 17-year-old and threw him into the team.
“I know Pochettino worked hard with him on the fitness and conditioning side of the game. I think a lot of Luke’s situation is purely down to the fact that he is still young, his body is changing.
“But I think he’s aware that the work-rate which is required does mean that he’s got to work very, very hard on that aspect of his game.”
United’s assistant manager and great Ryan Giggs, who made a record 963 appearances for the club on the wing until he retired last season, famously took up yoga while most other players in the 1990s were yet to take fitness as seriously as the modern day athlete.
It helped Giggs become one of the most decorated – and long-lasting – footballers to have ever played the game and in the Welshman Shaw will have the perfect mentor.
Nonetheless, he also has the straight-talking Van Gaal to impress.
“Watching him play in the matches for Southampton which caused me to select him, watching him in the game against Costa Rica when he played, he didn’t seem to have too many problems coping with the physical side of the game,” added Hodgson.
“That doesn’t mean he can’t be fitter and if Louis thinks that he can get him fitter then I’m sure he will certainly have our approval.
“But I think when he (Van Gaal) talks to Pochettino, then Pochettino will say to him: ‘What you were saying to Luke Shaw and what you’ve been saying to him, is what I was actually saying to him’.”
Main image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube, with thanks.