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Why Luke Shaw may not be England’s solution at Euro 2024



Why Luke Shaw may not be England’s solution at Euro 2024

Luke Shaw and the Left Back dilemma may not be what England think.

As Euro 2024 progresses, the narrative surrounding Luke Shaw’s return has captivated England fans.

However, despite his undeniable talent, there are compelling reasons why the Manchester United left-back may not be the solution for England’s campaign, and why the left-back position might not be as crucial to their success as it seems.

Fitness Concerns and Inconsistencies

Luke Shaw’s history of injuries casts a long shadow over his potential impact. Having been sidelined for over four months with a hamstring injury and having missed significant portions of previous seasons due to various ailments, Shaw’s fitness is far from guaranteed. Even if he returns to the field, there is no assurance he will be at peak performance. A lack of match sharpness and the risk of re-injury could hamper his contributions, making it risky to rely heavily on him.

Alternative Solutions

While Shaw’s absence has highlighted a void, England’s dependency on him may be overstated. Kieran Trippier, though not as dynamic offensively, has been defensively solid and brings a wealth of experience. Furthermore, Southgate’s decision to exclude other left-back options, such as Tyrick Mitchell, may be a reflection of his confidence in the overall defensive structure rather than a gamble solely reliant on Shaw.

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Tactical Flexibility

Southgate’s tactical acumen allows for adjustments that mitigate the absence of a specialist left-back. By deploying a three-at-the-back system with wing-backs, England can leverage the strengths of players like Trippier or Bukayo Saka, who can provide width and defensive cover. This system offers greater flexibility and allows England to adapt to various opponents, reducing the dependency on any single player.

Midfield and Attacking Dynamics

England’s progress in Euro 2024 may hinge more on their midfield and attacking dynamics than on the left-back position. The performances of key midfielders such as Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, along with the form of attackers like Harry Kane and Phil Foden, are likely to be more decisive. A cohesive midfield that controls the game and creates opportunities, coupled with a potent attack, can compensate for any defensive shortcomings.

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Historical Precedents

Past tournaments have shown that successful teams do not always rely on a star left-back. France’s World Cup victory in 2018, for example, was driven by a robust midfield and a formidable attack. England’s own run to the Euro 2020 final was characterized by solid team performances and tactical versatility rather than reliance on any single defensive position.

Psychological and Team Cohesion Factors

The psychological aspect of tournament football cannot be underestimated. Shaw’s return, while potentially uplifting, could also disrupt the established team dynamics. Integrating a player returning from a long injury layoff into the starting lineup carries risks. Southgate must balance the morale boost with the need to maintain team cohesion and consistency.

While Luke Shaw’s return from injury offers a glimmer of hope, it is not a guaranteed solution to England’s form or left-back conundrum.