Luke Shaw has pledged to give everything to stay at Manchester United and take the club he loves back to the top, with the under-fire left-back vowing to “fight to the last” under Jose Mourinho.
This has been a chaotic few days in the highly-talented 21-year-old’s career, having been publicly eviscerated by his manager over the weekend.
Scathing comments related to commitment and focus led Shaw and Mourinho to hold a meeting on Monday – an exchange that may not have cleared the air entirely but paved a way for a surprise return to the squad to face Everton the following day.
The left-back came on in the second half for just his third United appearance in four months – a promising comeback that culminated in his shot being handled and Zlatan Ibrahimovic pinching a late draw from the penalty spot.
“I have missed it so much, being on the pitch,” Shaw told Press Association Sport after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw. “I really do love football and I love to play on the pitch.
“I am loving it here at United, the fans are incredible and have been incredible the last couple of days for obviously what has been going on.
“But I am keeping my head up and I am going to fight to the last. I am not going to give up. I love this club and I will give everything to be here.”
Shaw spoke with passion, intensity and focus in the bowels of Old Trafford, unaware that elsewhere in the ground Mourinho was tempering praise with criticism over tactical naivety.
But given his defender’s respectful tone throughout the interview and after it, such talk is likely to fuel his resolve rather than dampen it.
“Sometimes I tend to keep it on the low,” Shaw said when put to him he was speaking more passionately about life at United than normal.
“But obviously with the stuff that has been going on it is hard for me to take because deep down that is not me as a person.
“Like Jose said, he wants to see me fighting – and I will fight to the last second because I want to be here for the club.
“I want to play for the manager and I want to help this team get back to the top.”
There is a fair way to go if United are to get back to the top of the English game, but Tuesday’s reprieve appears to offer the full-back hope of being involved in that process beyond the summer.
Shaw could have even capped that return with a dream goal – his first in professional football – was it not for Ashley Williams’ handball, but such a memorable moment would not have lessened his determination to succeed long-term.
“I am working really hard at the moment,” he said. “Especially now more than ever.
“I am going through a phase where everything sort of is going against me, but I want this so badly, I want to prove everyone wrong.
“We were unlucky (against Everton). I think sometimes the luck is not in our favour and it is disappointing.
“We were all disappointed in the changing room, but we’re not going to give up, we’re a team of fighters and experienced players. We’ll build up to Sunday now.”
Victory at Sunderland would bolster top-four ambitions that Shaw believes United still have a “very good chance” of achieving, with such confidence also clear when he spoke about the Europa League.
That competition offers the chance for the England international to be involved in a first major final and repay the faith of United fans, whose support has been keenly felt since sustaining a horrific double leg break in September 2015.
“They have been so good to me and, like I said, especially the last sort of two days,” Shaw added. “That’s why I love them.
“It is easy for them to see those comments and turn on me, do you know what I mean?
“But the passion they have always shown to me is amazing and something I don’t and won’t forget for a long time because it means a lot to me.
“I don’t want to let them down and I’ll fight for each and every one of the fans as well.”