Shaw and Valencia have featured in every Premier League game so far, cementing themselves as first choice full-backs under Mourinho with a series of commanding performances.
The pair, with Sunday’s game with Watford in mind, were not included in the squad that travelled to Rotterdam for Man United’s opening Europa League game with Feyenoord.
Speaking after the 1-0 defeat to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, a game that saw Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo struggle in their respective full-back spots, Mourinho confirmed that normal service would be resumed on Sunday.
“It is obvious that we left players like [Antonio] Valencia and [Luke] Shaw at home to play and to rest,” he said, “so we go back to a normal team without so many changes.”
The full-back role may not be glamours, but it’s an area that requires perfection when it comes to Mourinho’s system.
With the likes of Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard all prone to moving infield off the flanks, the width has to be supplemented by the full-backs. But that only makes up half of their job: the other half being, of course, immense regimentation at the back, forged by an exceptional work rate and staunch discipline.
And this his was something United miserably lacked against Feyenoord, illustrating that, aside from Shaw and Valencia, competent full-back reinforcements are scarce.