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Wes Brown lauds Manchester United star for adapting to centre-back role

Manchester United's English defender Luke Shaw (R) wins a header, under pressure from Newcastle United's English striker Callum Wilson (C) during the English League Cup final football match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Wembley Stadium, north-west London on February 26, 2023
Manchester United's English defender Luke Shaw. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Manchester United defender lauds Luke Shaw’s newly discovered talent at the back

Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown has spoken highly of versatile full-back Luke Shaw for his quick adaptability at the back.

Shaw has been an improved player under Erik ten Hag since last season. He has always been present whenever the club needed him to play alternate roles. It started with Lisandro Martinez’s injury issues, which gave him a chance to play as a centre-back on numerous occasions, and he has continued his fine rhythm ever since.

Such was his solidity that the Dutch boss even preferred to keep Harry Maguire on the bench in preference to the 27-year-old. And his performances drew a lot of fan support, the latest one coming from former Man United defender Brown.

Wes Brown heaps praise on Manchester United defender Luke Shaw (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Wes Brown heaps praise on Manchester United defender Luke Shaw (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Brown, who achieved Champions League success twice with the club, has gained significant experience in playing various defensive positions.

During his time at Old Trafford, the ex-England international featured both as a centre-back and a right-back under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson. His versatility allowed him to contribute effectively in different roles within the team’s defence.

Who else could know much better about this skill set than the master himself? The former United defender acknowledges Shaw’s ability to excel in a back two, not just as part of a three-man defence. He commends the left-back’s performances and highlights his versatility as a key asset for Man United.

While speaking to MUTV, Brown said:

“We know him as an excellent left-back but he’s been unbelievable [at centre-back]. As a full-back, you’d probably only play there a few times until the other defenders all come back [from injury]. But because Luke has played so well, he’s been, pretty much, the next-choice centre-back.

I’m not sure if he played there as a kid, but he just seems to read the game very well. He’s good in the air, his positioning is good and getting better after a few games. You know he reads the ball so well, he’s winning balls even before the striker gets a touch. So he’s been absolutely excellent and that’s why the gaffer has kept him in.”

By reading this, it’s quite clear that Brown was quick to notice the fact that Shaw has gained the trust of manager Ten Hag, who prefers to utilise him over club captain Maguire. This preference for the full-back has clearly indicated Maguire’s lower position in the team’s hierarchy at Old Trafford.

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw performed brilliantly as a centre-back last season (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Manchester United defender Luke Shaw performed brilliantly as a centre-back last season (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

There are two notable games: the home match against City and the away fixture against Barcelona, where Shaw was chosen to start as a centre-back. These important fixtures further emphasise the 27-year-old’s importance and the manager’s confidence in his abilities.

With Tyrell Malacia providing competition at left-back and the versatility of Diogo Dalot, United have the flexibility to deploy Shaw in different positions. Emerging talent Alvaro Fernandez could also make a case for the left-back position during pre-season.

Ten Hag has shown a similar approach with former United defender Daley Blind at Ajax, often utilising him as both a full-back and a centre-back. Shaw can expect a similar role next season, showcasing his adaptability and importance to the team.

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Written by Roland Cutinho

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