A Shaw thing down the left for England
For the best part of a decade, many bemoaned Ryan Giggs’ nationality. Why couldn’t he have been English? The opportunity to link up with his other Manchester United midfield maestros was one he would probably have found hard to turn down.
The missing link on the left, in a quartet that already consisted of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. Fast forward a few years; Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were sitting comfortably alongside Beckham, with the former having to be utilised on the left. And then there was Scholes’ continuous unhappiness at being shunted out wide. A tactical decision which played a part in himself ending his international career, years too early.
Going into this summer’s World Cup, however, 25/1 tournament shots England, are blessed with options. Not only on the left, but throughout the whole squad that includes an exciting blend of youth, established quality and experience.
Southampton’s highly rated Luke Shaw, is being courted by a host of top clubs. His sterling season earned him a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup selection, ahead of Ashley Cole. While he could feature, it is likely to be Everton’s experienced left back Leighton Baines, who starts. As a result, market odds of 6/1 for the Saints star reflects this.
What if Hodgson has the foresight to utilise Shaw differently? He seems to be an exact clone of Gareth Bale at the same age. Bale, who started his career at left back, was swiftly moved further up the pitch, after displaying effective attacking ability, often culminating in goals or converted crosses.
Shaw has shown similar traits. If Hodgson does indeed fancy some natural width on the left hand side, there is no reason why he can’t put the Saints youngster in front of Baines. It would be a partnership with pace to burn, and license to put the fear of Cristo Redentor into ageing right backs. If England do make it through the group with one game to spare, Shaw may be given a start against Costa Rica. In the meantime, good Luke!