NEW YORK: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has ordered full-back Luke Shaw to train alone, saying the 19-year-old is “not very fit” and unable to meet the Dutchman’s expectations.
Shaw joined United from fellow Premier League side Southampton after returning from England’s dismal World Cup campaign in a deal reported to be worth up to 30m pounds ($50.93m), the highest fee for a teenage player.
On Monday, he trained away from his team-mates during an open session at the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field on the club’s North American pre-season tour.
“I am always a trainer who sees the individuals and what each player needs,” Van Gaal told reporters when quizzed about why Shaw was training alone.
“Luke needs to be fit and he’s not very fit and can’t perform how I want. He needs to be fit and to train individually.
“I can’t judge why. I see what I see. I have spoken with him and we have made a programme with him. He has agreed.”
Van Gaal could not say how much work Shaw had to do to reach a satisfactory level.
“How long? That we have to see, but that I don’t know,” he added.
“I have heard good messages from Strud (fitness coach Tony Strudwick) but we have to see.”
Meanwhile, Wilfried Zaha, who has struggled since joining from Crystal Palace last year, was set to make his first appearance on the tour against Inter Milan later yesterday night.
Van Gaal said he was looking at utilising the winger as a striker as he continues to develop a 3-5-2 formation at the club.
“He will play in the second-half in the strikers’ position.
“When we play this system he has to play as a striker, otherwise he cannot play. Ashley Young is a winger, but he is another type who can play wing-back and he did very well (in a 3-2 friendly win) against Roma.
“He can play left and right side, but we shall see. He can do the job. He believes me and he is now performing well.”
The new Manchester United coach also welcomed the challenge of trying to emulate the great Sir Alex Ferguson and expressed confidence that his record of managing big clubs would stand him in good stead.
Ferguson won 38 trophies in 26 success-laden seasons at Old Trafford and the task of following in his footsteps proved too much for his immediate successor David Moyes.
Moyes was sacked in less than a season after breaking a host of unwanted records as United finished seventh in the Premier League campaign that ended in May.
“I had to follow Bobby Robson at Barcelona and that year he won three titles,” Van Gaal told reporters on Monday during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.
“I have been at Ajax — the biggest club in the Netherlands — I went to Barcelona — the biggest club in Spain — and then I went to Bayern Munich, also the number one in Germany.
“So when Manchester United came I thought I had to say ‘yes’.”
Van Gaal’s winning mentality and intimidating style has brought comparisons with Ferguson.
“I highly respect Alex because there is not another trainer or manager who has won so many titles,” said the 62-year-old Dutchman who led his country to the semi-finals of the football World Cup in Brazil earlier this month.
“I have won a lot of titles but he has won so many with one club and that is fantastic. When you compare Alex with me I am very proud.”
Van Gaal said he would take his time before making up his mind on possible signings.
“I don’t buy players for the sake of it,” he explained. “I buy players to improve my selection.
“First I must see what I need in all the positions from the system we shall play and, at this moment, I don’t know for sure.”