Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has praised Luke Shaw for how he has acquitted himself in the unfamiliar role of centre back and hinted he could continue to play him in the position when his side host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Shaw was England’s first choice left back during the World Cup and has played there for most of his career at United but was shunted to centre back against Nottingham Forest on Dec. 27 due to the absences of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez.
He impressed in the 3-0 win and was picked in the position for the 1-0 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Dec. 31 even though Maguire and Lindelof were available.
“I think he did fabulous and was impressive, but we know also he is really good as a left full back but it’s an extra option and (that) is always good for a team,” the Dutch manager told a news conference.
“Of course you have your ideas, and a plan, but sometimes it changes by circumstances like illnesses from Harry and from Victor. Luke Shaw against Forest did very good, and also you look into the game plan, the way we had to approach Wolves, and I thought it was the best match with Raphael (Varane) and Luke.”
The manager also said he was “optimistic” Scot McTominay, Martinez and Diogo Dalot could return to the squad to face Bournemouth, who are 15th in the standings after losing six of their last seven league fixtures.
United climbed up to fourth after the win over Wolves, their third consecutive league victory, and they could even move above Newcastle United into third place if they beat Bournemouth and Newcastle fail to win at league leaders Arsenal.
Ten Hag was critical of his side’s lack of focus in the first half against Wolves but was not concerned about a repeat against Bournemouth.
“I think already in halftime (against Wolves) I solved it,” he added.
“I saw a different approach in the second half and it was more investment, there was more focus, more aggression, we had better organisation in the second half and I think we created even more chances and I think the win was also well deserved.”