Luke Shaw has thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for “managing me right” after earning an England recall.
Shaw has been one of United’s standout performers this term and is back in the international fold for the first time in two years, as Gareth Southgate’s squad prepare for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.
Those matches will be the Three Lions’ last before Southgate names his squad for the rescheduled Euro 2020, with former Southampton youngster Shaw looking set to contest a starting berth with Chelsea left-back Ben Chilwell.
It is a far cry from the 25-year-old’s time under Jose Mourinho at OId Trafford, where public criticism from his manager appeared to do more harm than good as he struggled for form, fitness and confidence.
“[Solskjaer’s] man-management is second to none. The way he conducts himself in terms of how he speaks to the players, it gets the best out of them,” Shaw told Sky Sports.
“You can see that. He deals with situations perfectly in terms of what is needed, especially at a big club like Manchester United.
“He takes the pressure off the lads and takes it all himself.
“Sometimes it is not fair because we are the ones on the pitch and we need to take our fair share too.
“For me, especially, from what I had before Ole came in, it is a total difference. It has pushed me to a new level.”
Mourinho infamously decried an apparently promising Shaw performance versus Everton in April 2017 as “his body and my brain”, telling reporters his constant instructions from the sidelines were a big factor in the defender impressing.
“I had no confidence at that time. I was losing my belief,” Shaw said.
“I think that is what changed with Ole. He managed me right and I got my confidence back and I am really enjoying it at the moment.”
Confidence is certainly not an issue for Shaw right now, as he contributes for United in all aspects of the game.
His 52 chances created are the most by any defender in the Premier League this season.
In open play, he has delivered 67 crosses and has five assists this season – crediting the arrival of experienced striker Edinson Cavani at Old Trafford with encouraging him to take a more active role as a creator in the team.
“I never used to cross it as much as I should have done,” he said.
“It helps to have Edi and that threat in the box. It means that if you do deliver a ball he will be there to fight for it and give everything he can to win it.
“Since he came in, the lads up front have seen how he works and what he does. They are trying to copy what he does in the box so there is definitely more movement.
“It means that you don’t have to hit a man, you just have to hit a space and someone will be in there.”