IF you’re wondering why Luke Shaw is performing like Roberto Carlos now, have a listen to the bloke standing alongside him.
Because the constant demands of Harry Maguire, Shaw’s Manchester United skipper and England team-mate, have played a major role in transforming his close friend into a rampaging left-back.
Maguire, perhaps the most vocal leader in the Premier League, talks a lot about England’s players making ‘demands’ of each other.
Shaw, 25, has been one of England’s standout players at the Euros, with three assists in two knockout matches – including a free-kick delivered on to Maguire’s famously massive head for the second goal in their 4-0 quarter-final thumping of Ukraine.
And the way Maguire speaks about Shaw says a lot about the high- standards culture which has propelled Gareth Southgate’s men into Wednesday’s semi-final against Denmark.
Maguire, 28, said: “I do put a lot of demands on Luke. I do not accept him playing alongside me and playing safe and not getting forward because for Manchester United he is a big attacking threat.
“Him creating chances for us gives us the best opportunity to win football matches.
“I really expect Luke to push himself because I know, and see every day, what he has got. I see his attributes and his ability and he has absolutely everything to be one of the best left-backs in the world.
“He has shown it in the Premier League all year and now he is showing the world.
“I hope he keeps improving and keeps pushing himself. And I am sure that he will.
“I would say the main difference within Luke now is his mentality, in terms of pushing himself and the demands he is putting on himself to not just be six out of ten in each game, not to play comfortable, to push on and push himself to be the best player on the pitch.
“Because there’s no reason why he can’t do that with all the attributes and ability that he has.
“It is working well for both club and country. We have a really good relationship and we are striving to improve.
“I put demands on myself and others. Luke probably gets a little bit more of it than everybody else because he is stood alongside me for 90 minutes.
“If Luke is playing well, I am playing well because we are so close to each other and covering each other. It is just the same with my centre-half partners.”
Maguire claims England are far better prepared for this semi-final than they were for the 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the last-four of the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
And he reckons they are ready to be braver against the Danes.
He said: “We’ll probably have more belief going into the Denmark game than what we did in the Croatia semi-final.
“We hadn’t been to a semi-final in so long as a country, so the belief wasn’t there – I’m sure the fans are believing more now.
“As players and staff and everyone involved in the bubble, we’re all believing as well.
“You have seen in this tournament from the first game to the Ukraine game, there have been a lot of differences in the principles we are demanding of each other.
“We are in a better place now than in 2018 – but we still have a long way to go.
“The experience in general of having played a semi-final of a major tournament will help.”
Asked what England have learned from that Croatia defeat, Maguire replied: “Could we have been more brave or composed? And take the ball when we were leading the game, rather than sit back and soak up the pressure?
“Is that something we could have done better? We have looked at it over the three-year period and, for sure, we’re in a better place now.”
Maguire feared he might not play any part in these Euros after the ankle injury he suffered in early May, admitting his recovery was ‘quicker than we might have expected’.
But having featured in the last three of England’s record-breaking seven straight clean sheets, Maguire has also crucially played a part in an improvement in his team’s set-piece ability.
England scored the majority of their goals from set-pieces in Russia, but had not done so at the Euros until Maguire and Jordan Henderson netted in Saturday’s quarter-final.
Maguire said: “Set-pieces were one thing going into the game with Ukraine that we spoke about needing to improve on.
“It was massively effective in Russia, so we knew that coming into this tournament set-plays would have a big part to play and we’d have to improve.
“I work hard on my timing and execution. It was a great ball by Luke and ever since I set eyes on it, I knew I could get clean contact.
“It was so close to the goal that I just needed a clean contact and luckily it found the corner.
“We do work hard on them. We executed it well against Ukraine. I think in the next two games, if we’re going to be successful, we might need to execute another one.”
Betting Link – Win a car and cash