Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho revealed that Luke Shaw gave up a summer holiday to work on his fitness and also admitted to being surprised at the speed of the left-back’s progress.
Shaw made his comeback in the 2-0 preseason friendly win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday after 10 months out of action following a double fracture to his right leg. The 21-year-old England defender looked untroubled by fitness or injury issues and regularly pushed forward down the flank.
Mourinho said: “When I found Luke at the training ground, it was a surprise for me because I thought he couldn’t be ready to train without any type of limitation, but he did fantastic in the summer. He sacrificed his holiday.
“He stayed in Manchester and was at the training ground every day, putting himself in condition. Of course, you lose a bit of sharpness of condition and confidence, that is normal, but he is trying hard.” The United manager admitted that Shaw could have played for longer but Mourinho decided against it, opting for “45 safe minutes” and going “step by step” rather than taking any risk with him.
Discussing the team’s performance as a whole, he added: “I could see things that they start identifying and trying to play my football. I could see the players trying to go in the direction I want them to go and do things I want them to do.
“I know [Wigan] is a Championship team and they are in the same process we are, a training process, so thank you very much to the Wigan players and manager to give us the training session we need at this moment.”
The former Chelsea manager seemed to build a rapport with his new supporters straight away, as fans chanted his name and he acknowledged them. Mourinho, though, does not want to be the sole focus of their attentions.
“For me, what I found unbelievable for the first time in my career was that the support was like it was a crucial Premier League match. Unbelievable.
“My reaction is that honestly, I would prefer them to go with the players. I prefer them to go with the team. I prefer them to go with Man United. They are the ones on the pitch and they are the ones that need support. First, the players. I am the last one after them.
“It is nice to feel welcome and that they are behind the team.”
Looking ahead to next week’s China tour, Mourinho added: “Basically, in China I will play with these guys [the players who featured against Wigan] that are training for 10 days.
“The [Wayne] Rooneys and [Marcus] Rashfords and [Chris] Smallings, these guys are coming to China without training so I am not going to play them.”