Graeme Le Saux believes Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s critical treatment of Luke Shaw represents a major gamble.
Le Saux, one of Shaw’s predecessors in the England left-back shirt, has been surprised to see Mourinho openly critique the £30million player in recent weeks.
Shaw has been used sparingly throughout Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford, with the Portuguese questioning his “focus and ambition” then claiming the 21-year-old used “his body with my brain” during a bright showing against Everton.
Relations seemed improved when Shaw started last week’s win over Sunderland, earning a handshake and a pat on the back on the touchline, but Le Saux remains surprised by the man management.
“Some people need an arm around them and some need a more confrontational style of manager but it sounds like Luke Shaw is not responding particularly well to public criticism,” the former Blackburn and Chelsea defender told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek.
“I think it’s a high-risk strategy by Jose. Not only do you shame the player, and if he doesn’t react that backfires on you, but also what message does it send out to other players in the that group? It puts people on edge.
“I can’t think of many occasions, with anybody I’ve worked with, where someone has been criticised publicly and it’s really paid dividends.
“You need to be protected if you’re finding form hard to find, so it’s certainly not a strategy I would promote.”
Steve McClaren, the former England manager, suggested Mourinho’s approach ran contrary to the lessons he learned at United from Sir Alex Ferguson.
“He said publicly he would never, ever criticise his players,” said McClaren.
“If we criticise any of our players when we’re coming to sell them again then the public and the rest of football has a bad impression of that player.
“If you’re looking to move Shaw on everyone will see that and be a little bit more worried – ‘has he got an attitude problem, another problem, this problem or that problem’.
“I learned that from Sir Alex and tried to maintain that.”