Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has told Sky Sports that Jose Mourinho singling out the Luke Shaw is “a distraction” for other failures this season.
Mourinho was, not for the first time, critical of the performance of Shaw, as well as some of his teammates, in the 2-0 FA Cup victory over Brighton on Saturday.
Shaw, who is now thought to be part of a summer clear-out at Old Trafford, was substituted at half-time with Mourinho saying he was “not happy with the performance” of either of his full-backs, though Antonio Valencia played the full 90 minutes.
It followed on from United’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Sevilla four days earlier, which sent them tumbling out of the Champions League in the round of 16.
“I can’t help feeling the whole Luke Shaw issue is a distraction from the critical aspect of the season,” Neville wrote in his Sky Sports column. “United spent a lot of money and the aspiration was to win the Premier League and go as far as they could in the Champions League and obviously neither have happened.
“The issue for me isn’t the individuals — whether Shaw, Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez are underperforming — but that the team aren’t very consistent, which over the course of Mourinho’s career his teams have always been.
“If you look at the performances against Liverpool [won 2-1] and then Sevilla, they were night and day, and this looks like a group of individuals rather than a group functioning as a team.
“What I would say about Shaw is that the talent and ability are there, but his job as a footballer is to be prepared to perform every day and do every single thing in his life well to be a United player.
“At the moment, his potential is not being recognised. I’ve got a great belief in Luke Shaw and the reality is it would be a great shame if he leaves United without fulfilling his potential.
“There’s a lot of players out there with less ability but maximising their potential and I just hope he can get there.”
Neville added that he still believes Paul Pogba has the “character and personality to play for United” despite his struggle for form and rumours of a rift between player and manager.
And he added: “Everything about Manchester United is a crisis. Every time they lose a game — like against Sevilla — everything is a crisis and there is no reasoned level being applied.
“The reality of it is the only thing that will shut people up when you’re at Manchester United is winning matches and trophies — everything else is irrelevant.”
United sit second in the Premier League table, 16 points behind Manchester City — who could win the title in the derby at the Etihad on April 7.