Manchester United left with many questions after Shaw injury

After suffering a horrific double fractured leg injury on Sept. 15, Manchester United left back Luke Shaw has started his long road to recovery. Shaw is expected to be out for more than six months, possibly even for Euro 2016 Championships. Manchester United fans are worried about what this injury could mean to the team’s Barclays Premier League title hopes and to the back line of defense.

Throughout the first five games of the league campaign, Shaw was one of the most consistent and reliable players for the Red Devils. With the additions of central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger ($16.2 million), central midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin ($27.1 million), right back Matteo Darmian ($14.3 million), winger/striker Memphis Depay ($31.5 million) and young winger/striker Anthony Martial ($40.7 million) in the summer transfer window, team manager Louis van Gaal had been criticized for refusing to focus on strengthening the sub-par defensive core of the team. Although 25-year-old Chris Smalling has shown that he is an improved centre back, one man does not make a whole defensive line.

So, who will replace Shaw in the starting lineup? Since the injury, United have looked weak on the left side of the pitch, where Shaw plays. Ashley Young, a regular midfielder, has been asked by van Gall to drop back into a defensive position, and former attacking midfielder Antonio Valencia is being transitioned into a different role than he is used to. van Gaal has also tried to fit Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo into the position, but none of them possesses the qualities that Shaw brought to the team on a day-to-day basis. On Oct. 3, van Gaal said, “Four people have played in that position since Shaw’s injury. And we have won every game, but in my opinion, we don’t have a good substitute for Luke Shaw with the same qualities.”

Before Shaw was injured on in Eindhoven, Manchester United had been scored on four times to start their season, including Champions League fixtures. Since Sept. 15, United has been scored on eight times, including a loss to Southampton, Shaw’s former team, and a poor performance at the Emirates against rival team Arsenal.

According to an article by Mike Whalley on Mirror, prior to the Arsenal game on Oct. 3, van Gaal said, “We lost Luke and that is a big blow. I said that this would be the year of Luke Shaw. His is the only position which we don’t have a double option. So the circumstances are not so good for us.”

Soccer analysts are expecting Manchester United to make a big move to replace Shaw in the January transfer window, but for now they are faced with the difficult task of staying in contention at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.

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