Manchester United: Could Kieran Tierney be the solution at left-back?
As Manchester United struggle to fill the left-back slot, RealSport ask if Celtic’s Kieran Tierney could offer a solution.
Manchester United’s travails at left-back have been scrutinised since the beginning of time, seemingly.
The poorly judged departure of Patrice Evra was the last time Old Trafford saw a convincing, world-class specialist playing on the left side of defence.
The management thought Luke Shaw was the long-term successor to the Frenchman – and he might have been too if circumstances had fallen his way. Evra would have been the ideal senior figure to learn from, but Shaw had no one.
It was why numerous square pegs have been shunted into the round hole: ranging from inexperienced academy graduates (Tyler Blackett and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson) to the more sedate centre-back cum left-backs (Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind).
Mourinho has settled on converted winger Ashley Young but he is not the long-term solution. As Shaw moves closer to the backdoor, one Scotsman remains the apple of the media’s eye.
Similarities and differences
Kieran Tierney and Luke Shaw could not be more similar and yet dissimilar. Tierney is 20 now, 21 in the summer, while Shaw is 22, 23 in the summer.
But Shaw joined Manchester United when he was 19. It feels like he has been around for years, and he has: his deal was announced during the 2014 World Cup.
Tierney seems much more equipped to handle life in Manchester if he made the move. For starters, the Scot has spent three seasons as the first-choice left-back for Celtic, a significant achievement considering their status in Scottish football.
He’s also accumulated more game time than Shaw despite being his junior by two years. That shows the experience and development he’s received at the most dominant club in the league.
Manchester United are as close to Celtic in terms of stature, history and trophies, which could suggest Tierney’s ability to integrate well enough.
On a stylistic level, both left-backs are pretty similar.
Tierney, like Shaw, is speedy and provides an attacking outlet on the left flank, helping to open up the pitch or contribute on the overlaps.
His crosses are lethal enough to replicate Ashley Young and provide Romelu Lukaku with the required service: he has 30 assists to his name so far, a number that leaves Shaw in the dust.
He’s also a strong and versatile defender, while he can also pop up with the rare goal. In conclusion, he’s ideal.
What would interest Mourinho and the Manchester United fans more are the intangibles, like his attitude, for example.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers spoke about his determination and work ethic last year, quotes that show Tierney is on the right path.
While Shaw possesses a great deal of raw talent, it’s his attitude that has been thrown in question many times. While Mourinho’s treatment has not been fair at times, it holds an element of truth, as always.
His fitness is another concern, having been questioned by three separate managers in his nascent career (Pochettino, van Gaal and Mourinho). Tierney, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have these concerns and has, in fact, led Celtic as captain in a few games.
It appears, then, that Tierney is everything Mourinho looks for: humble, a hard-working grafter, likeable and talented.
Shaw is out… Tierney in?
All signs from the Tierney camp suggests he will stay at Celtic for the foreseeable future, with a new six-year deal signed last year justifying that.
But few can reject a move to Manchester United, even at their current state and not when they are crying out for a player in their position.
Celtic will not sell cheap, but for the right deal Tierney’s head could be turned. For a man that has played all six games of Celtic’s Champions League this season, a price matching Shaw’s could be worth it.
It appears that Shaw is on his way out, with his chances to impress running out. And it may be the best decision for his career too.
Kieran Tierney could be a better, improved version of the idea behind Shaw’s purchase, and crucially, he may be better prepared for a big move than Shaw was.
It will be intriguing to see how Manchester United approach this deal. Take note though: Tierney is set for the top, and will only progress regardless of his future club.
Manchester United fans will pray his future lies at Old Trafford.
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