Roy Keane and Gary Neville have pinpointed how Jose Mourinho’s techniques let him down as he tried and failed to get the best out of Luke Shaw.
Mourinho spent two-and-a-half years working alongside Shaw while Manchester United boss.
During that time, the Portuguese publicly condemned the left-back, beginning a back-and-forth spat which endures to this day.
Mourinho is renowned for his demanding and often-divisive approach to coaching, with criticism one of his many means of spurring a player on.
But this strategy had the opposite effect with Shaw and caused damage to the England international’s confidence which he only recovered from recently.
“Obviously Mourinho was really hard on him, but in fairness to Mourinho, he’s probably just trying to motivate him,” Keane told ITV Sport of the manager’s relationship with Shaw.
“Okay, it probably didn’t work, but Shaw wasn’t playing well, he probably wasn’t fit enough. What’s happened to him over the last year or two is he’s played regularly, he’s played consistently.
“We all know how good he is going forward, that’s never been in question. The question mark has been with his fitness and how he does defensively.
“He’s improved, but it’s about time for him. He’s 25, sometimes the penny drops, he’s a lot fitter now.
“I’m sure if you spoke to Mourinho now he might say ‘maybe I could have done something different’, but the guy is in top form now and deserves credit.
“Every player has his ups and downs, he’s now playing with great confidence.”
Neville echoed his former Old Trafford colleague’s comments, saying: “I think Jose was harsh on him and he was never going to respond to that, Luke Shaw, because of the type of character he is.
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“But, if Luke was honest with himself, which I know he would be, there were things he wasn’t doing right at the time which were contributing towards his lack of performance and injuries.
“Now you can say he’s matured, he’s doing the right things, but you do need to look after Luke Shaw, there’s no doubt about it.
“He responds to Gareth Southgate and he responds to Mauricio Pochettino. Shaw’s not going to respond to Mourinho, fact, but he still had some things he had to sort out himself.
Like Neville, Keane insists the blame for Mourinho and Shaw’s poor understanding does not rest solely on the manager.
He added: “I guarantee he still took some pointers off Mourinho. Managers have to be tough with players sometimes, they don’t like it, but I bet the penny dropped with some of the things he said to him.”
Shaw was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year last season, while he has been hugely impressive at Euro 2020 for the Three Lions.