Is Kagawa wasted at United?

The mysterious case of our Japanese fans’ favourite Shinji Kagawa is mind-boggling and the source of great frustration for our creativity-craving supporters. His plight has even drawn management maverick Jurgen Klopp (who previously worked with The Shin) to tears, allegedly.

Quite exactly why Kagawa has turned from creative saviour to frequent bench-warmer is clear as mud. When he signed from Borussia Dortmund, he had just come off winning German player of the year, destroying Bayern Munich in front of Sir Alex’s eyes and playing an integral part in Dortmund seeing off Bayern to the Bundesliga title, against all the odds. He was seen as the Christmas present come early, the first attacking midfielder who could create a sackful of chances and be a genuine goal-scoring threat, something if truth be told we have not been blessed with since Paul Scholes was notching double figures year in year out in his late 20s.

The term ‘Glazernomics’ has become a major buzzword around Old Trafford in recent years, Kagawa fitted the bill of affordable alongside distinct class, very much adhering to the term. Snapping him up for a mere £12M at the time was seen as stellar business of the shrewdest variety, having taken advantage of the fact that Kagawa had ran down his contract, which was entering its final year.

Kagawa started off his United career in decent fashion, scoring on his home debut and looking like a crucial link between midfield and attack. As every foreign player experiences in their first season in England, Kagawa went through a lean spell in the winter, injury played its part too. He returned to the fold after Christmas and seemingly grew in confidence with every game, this came with the player continuing to adjust nicely with every passing day. His United career seemingly had lift-off when he single-handedly disposed of Norwich at OT with a sublime hat-trick, the 2nd and 3rd goals were of particular elegance and craft.

That game was seen as the making of Kagawa, and he was rewarded with a start in the Bernabeu just days later. Unfortunately his form tailed off a bit towards the end but overall, ‘The Shin’ had made steady progress, with some outstanding displays like Norwich and away to West Ham.

What cannot be disputed is that SAF left David Moyes a gem of a player, provided he was selected. Kagawa’s exploits in the Confederation Cup meant he was allowed some extra time off for some R&R. As a result, he didn’t feature in the opening stages of this season. This would have been fine if he was not in the 18, but the fact he was an unused sub against Chelsea, when his guile, craft and silky touches might have won us the game was puzzling to put it kindly. This must have meant that he was fit enough to make a telling contribution?

It does beg the question, does Moyes simply not fancy him?

Thus far he has only started 2 games all season, and he has subbed in both of them (Leverkusen and West Brom). Moyes said post-West Brom that he was taken off at half-time for ‘tactical reasons’, when by all accounts he was not the worst player out there. The problem for Kagawa is that Wayne Rooney is occupying his preferred position, and has been our shining light this season by a distance. Kagawa hasn’t got a sniff in that role when Rooney is on song especially if Moyes continues his polarising formation of 4-4-1-1, Wazza will always be in behind RvP.

When news filtered through that Rooney was injured for the Shakthar game, many, myself included, were of the view that Kagawa would easily slot into that position no problem. The man that matters most saw it differently though, and Kagawa was limited to his familiar position on the touchline with 6 others.

Although Kagawa is cutting a pretty disconsolate figure on the bench, he seems to have adopted the right mentality rather than publicly sulk, saying:

“I have to take this like some kind of message [from the manager]. I need to improve more and more, or I cannot survive at this club.”

Due to Rooney’s renaissance, Kagawa, when picked, has been deployed on the left side, the only feasible explanation for his absence has been his susceptibility defensively, offering no protection to the raiding Patrice Evra, making us very vulnerable down that side.

It surely cannot be down to lack of ability, because Kagawa earned ringing endorsements from SAF to Moyes when he left the title-winning squad. It surely cannot be down to a lack of physical prowess, not every player can be developed into a Yaya Toure or Fellaini, being of slighter stature has hardly been to Lionel Messi’s, David Silva’s, Juan Mata’s or Mesut Ozil’s detriment.

Hopefully the Shin gets his chance away to manager-less Sunderland who prop up the table, he could be the key to our first open play goal in the league since week 1 and exploiting their obvious defensive frailties. We have been devoid of creativity for a while now, this was all too painfully clear against West Brom and previously.

If not, Mr Klopp may well need some more consoling, as will most of our fans.



1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately i am starting to think that it might not work out for Kagawa at Old Trafford. The only reason i think this is that i don’t think there are enough players around him of similar quality and style. Utd arent setup to play with pass and move type of players, we’ve never really played like that, its always been about controlled possession and quick counters. If you look at other similar players around europe and the EPL like SIlva,Ozil,Iniesta they play in teams with other players of similar ilk. I have noticed Kagawa getting frustrated on the pitch, he passes, moves and gets in little pockets of space, but Utd are often quite lethargic when in possession, they tend to knock the ball around waiting for someone to make a run in behind or out wide, Kagawa and to a lesser extent Rooney(as he is all over the pitch) are really the only two players who try find these spaces. Watch the next time he plays, he will drop deep, pass to Carrick, move into space for a return pass and then the ball is back with Vidic or Evra, and you can actually see his head drop. With Dortmund, he would have received the ball back, and in seconds be running towards goal, with the opposition on the back foot, loloking to play someone through.
    People are crying out for Utd to sign a Mata,Silva or Ozil, when in fact we have that exact type of player but sadly that type of player doesn’t seem to work for us as we aren’t coached that way. It was not Ferguson’s way and certainly is not Moyes’s way, as an actual coach, Moyes is a long way behind the likes of Guardiola and Wenger, much like Ferguson was, however Ferguson was the greatest man manager ever and had great coaches around., and i think that’s what were hoping Moyes can become, although he has made a massive mistake in bringing in an entire British backroom staff, we 100% need a more tactically aware coach in the club, otherwise we will fall behind. Right now we have no identity/style on the pitch. Personally I think we should be playing 3 in the middle of the pitch, with Carrick,Fellaini/cleverly and Kagawa, and Rooney and Adnan/Welbeck either side of RVP. I’d like to see Kagawa and Cleverly be given a game together, i think they would suit each other well, as Cleverly is a pass and move type player as well. Won’t happen though as IMO Moyes is too afraid right now to change things up.
    The best thing Moyes has done so far is get Adnan playing, the boy has everything and could be real star.I don’t mean to be slating Moyes as i like him alot and think he is the right man for the job, I just think he has made a mistake with backroom staff, football has evolved and British coaches have fallen behind, maybe with exception of Brendan Rogers.

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