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All we need is Shinji Kagawa

How strange it is to be watching Manchester United treat the closing weeks of a season as a sandbox rather than a run-in. With their every trophy-hunting hope having been dashed by mid-April all that is now left for David Moyes is a period of extended limbo, ripe for experimentation.

The products of this tinkering could yet decide whether he remains at Old Trafford after the summer, as if the board wish to judge him on his workings rather than the underwhelming final results of the Scot’s first campaign. However, it’s unlikely that any concerns over his process will cleared up more than they have already, with the best football yet played under Moyes coming by accident through a player he previously appeared to have lost all faith in.

It may never have been part of the manager’s plans but as the season draws to an end, Shinji Kagawa looks to have become United’s most pivotal player, and a man who could soon inadvertently help to decide the employment status of the current United boss.

The eureka moment came in the 4-1 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford when the Japanese spun a cross over for a completely unmarked Wayne Rooney to nod home. It was a goal that benefitted greatly from poor defending, but it marked Kagawa’s first assist of the season. His second followed a week later against Newcastle United when he set up Adnan Januzaj for what would be the third strike in a 4-0 victory.

However, in neither game did he play as the side’s primary playmaker. That role fell upon Juan Mata who has at last begun to meet the expectations he set for himself during his time at Chelsea. That this up-turn in form has come after he was paired with the Japanese attacking midfielder is no coincidence even if the events leading up to their deployment were.

With Moyes’ instinctive, tactical defaults keeping things all-too-rigid and cautious, it’s been hard for the Spaniard to adapt to life at Old Trafford, especially when pushed out onto the wing. Kagawa has been key for helping Mata make the most of his return to the hole in the absence of an injured Wayne Rooney, thanks to his movement.

His ability to dribble past opponents, drive the ball forwards and play clever, one-two’s through the legs of defenders, giving and going around centre-backs, has been exactly what United and their record-signing have been missing. Paired alongside Mata, Kagawa has looked perfectly suited to finding and exploiting any available space, while darting into openings or receiving the ball on the half-turn. The midfielder’s ability to create space this way, or look for a quick, precise lay-off for another runner or passer, has made United almost look dynamic again through the middle.

Never mind that he doesn’t fit the build of a central midfielder. Neither does Tom Cleverley for the vast majority of the time, and the Japanese has effectively replaced the Englishman of late in the first tem, even if he may be more experienced and proficient in a deeper role.

Both as a wingman cutting in from wide, or running up from central positions to ramp up the intensity of their one-touch play, Kagawa has fulfilled the duties of Cleverley with less hassle. He has looked faster both over the turf and in the mind than his midfield colleague, coming into central positions shuttle position forwards to where it’s most wanted.

 

End product has helped too, with those two assists cracking his personal duck for having made zero direct contributions prior to the goal effort prior to his cross to Rooney against Villa. Finally, Kagawa’s praises can be sung without the need for a data sheet to justify his seeming confusion while on the park through the magic of interceptions, key passes and more. His quality is now visible to even the most pessimistic of naked eyes.

This new found relevancy hasn’t solely come down to Moyes’ need to reshuffle his deck in the wake of injuries however. Kagawa looks more confident and less reliant on others for his self-belief. Change has come from within, with the player making the best of his surroundings rather than struggling to gain any purchase on games as they slipped him by. Even his appearance in the opening Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen—a 4-2 victory—almost seemed academic somehow thanks to detached demeanour on the field.

Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson himself said the attacker would need a year. Perhaps he was a little optimistic in his assessment, with Kagawa only now showing his value, in behind and around Mata as United’s second violin.

Whether Moyes shows that he realises the magic he’s stumbled upon with this duo, as well as how to make the most of it, could be the make-or-break test lingering in the discussions between those at boardroom level, stubbornly still weighing up his future.

The sense of a special something being missing has pervaded United’s season, and not just because of Fergie’s retirement.

While there were probably as many sets of expectations as there were fans prior to the start of the season, it’s unlikely that many supporters listed a need for the reigning champions to play with some conviction or coherency. That should have been a given.

United weren’t perfect or complete at the end of Sir Alex’s reign but they certainly had enough about them to string a few passes together.

Of late, the Japanese has shown himself able to bring the best out of Mata, quicken up the team’s transitions from back-to-front with his passing and dribbling, and Moyes’ disjointed tactics feel far more fluid. Rather than the goal-scoring midfielder that Jurgen Klopp laments the demise of, he is fast becoming an enabler for others, although that prolific touch in the penalty may well return at some point too.

It seems cliché to talk of catalysts in football these days, but that is exactly what Kagawa is for Moyes and United. Whether he realises it is another issue.


 

127 Comments

  1. Fletch™ says:

    https://twitter.com/BVB/status/456135148522967040/photo/1

    One transfer rumor that DEFINITELY WILL NOT be happening.

    Scratch Ilkay Gündogan off your lists lads! :lol:

  2. Fletch™ says:

    Funny thing about the Gundogan move? Most rumors about Klopp to united (which I don’t thing ever happened either) pointed to the loss of all his top players as the reason he might want out.

    For me, Klopp was born to manage BVB and love the area. Be surprised if he wants to out.

  3. The_red_devils says:

    ‘i m behind moyes if he kicks giggs out’.

    If anybody should be kicked out, its that clueless manager.
    Giggs is a legend, something moyes will never be at united.
    I don’t know from where these mentally ill people come here to comment.

  4. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Kroos will sign a new contract before he joins Germany for the trip to Brazil and then we’ll be left with Carvlaho, who will proceed to listen to his father and join Real Madrid leaving us with Leon Osman.

  5. NairobiRed says:

    I know people sometimes have a tenancy to troll and put ridiculous comments here so we bite and respond but Welbeck over a fit RVP and a fit Rooney is right up there with the worst football strategies I have ever read. Do you really want to play forward who can’t finish as the sole talisman?

  6. Fletch™ says:

    Ask any Arsenal fan: A fit Robin van Persie is a complete myth!

    Ask any proper match going United fan: Danny Welbeck will be here for sometime and deserves to be nurtured. The lads movement off the ball is tops and his workrate second to none!

    As to Gundogan, can you imagine the Trolls if he signed for us and then was crocked for as much of the time as RvP. That idiot Dutch fitness coach (who actually only has a part time job) would have a permanent spot on Sky bashing United. Not that Fergie didn’t sign some injured players (Hargo and Owen lambasted, but Robin van Persie the most recent) We would all blame Moyes!

    P*ss off I say. Players will be crocked. Arsenal has 8 of them at the moment. Get over it! It’s football!

    Move over Jamie Redknapp! Would stand a chance :lol:

  7. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    This is exactly who we will sign this summer:

    Garay,Cattermole, Osman, Mark Noble,Monreal and then to top it all off, the one and only Grant Holt to give us that much needed oomph up front.

    Looking forward to next season already.

  8. The_red_devils says:

    Dannysoya
    how about Andy carroll?
    Carroll up top with fellaini in behind will be a good combo for ‘ball in the air’ football.

  9. AntiScouser says:

    @danny @the_red_devils

    You’re forgetting the migthy Charlie Adam, to provide the much needed cover in midfield + he’s Scottish. Happy days ahead.

  10. warrored says:

    Fuck me you’re all getting wound up about hyperbole and fucking hypothetics. The biggest laugh is just because a fucking cripple has signed a new contract at Dortmund lolol.

    You fucking moan about Moyes but want us to sign a player who in all honesty v
    Can’t fucking walk at the moment without aid lolol

    You seriously couldn’t make it up.

  11. warrored says:

    @Fletch….haha yeah it pisses me off when I keep hearing people say we should sign Gundogan. Yeah great player who’s now fucked with a chronic back problem. There’s no chance he will get back to where he was.

    Shame for the lad.

  12. warrored says:

    Ain’t it weird, I keep hearing Moyes training methods include no ball work but all I keep seeing pre match press conference on MUTV is Moyes in the middle with a yellow rag in his hand as the players one touch pass it around him. Oh and they all have smiles on their faces.

  13. warrored says:

    Does anyone know what that song is on the MUTV ad for The United Archives is, it’s doing my head in. It sounds like The Cure.

  14. Tommy says:

    @Mav

    Describing Moyes as a shit manager really is quite pathetic, you dont last 11 years in this buisness if youre “shit” plain and simple, even if you dont want him at United, you really cant describe him as shit

  15. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    On a more serious note, I’ll agree with samuel by repeating that Kroos and Gundogan are pure fantasy signings. We’re not getting EITHER player whether they are fit or crawling for two years. Just too valuable to better positioned clubs for them to give away. This is exactly the same thing Ronaldo did. Expect a five year Kroos extension in the next two months.

    I said it before and i’ll say it again. The last thing we need this summer is to waste our time on unrealistic targets like last summer when there’s more easily achievable ones out there. There’s multiple midfielders out there that would instantly improve this United side and they’d cost much less than Toni Kroos. Now is the time to identify those players and I want to hope that Moyes has done that by now. We have to have at least 5 to 6 players on our transfer shortlist for each position that needs to be addressed. If we do this, then I don’t see why this can’t be a great summer for us.

  16. Tommy says:

    @united till i die

    I would actually be shocked iof Holland even got out of the group, Spain and Chilie are better teams, in the last euros the dutch had the worst defence in the whole tournament and I dont think things have changed

  17. Tommy says:

    @Fletch

    Lingard is out of contract at the end of the season, He will probably only re sign if hes garenteed to be apart of the first team squad, hes coming up to 22 years old, another loan move would be terrible move for the lad at this point in his career

  18. LoneStarRed7 says:

    We should change the title of this thread to “All We Need is a Manager has an inkling of how to deploy offensive schemes more sophisticated just launching crosses into the box” .

  19. LoneStarRed7 says:

    MOYES CANNOT BE GONE SOON ENOUGH!

  20. NefariousVirtuoso88 says:

    This is absolute MADNESS.

    ” with those two assists cracking his personal duck for having made zero direct contributions prior to the goal effort prior to his cross to Rooney against Villa ”

    So we need to build our team and future around a player who didn’t manage an assist until the end of March ?. That’s fucking idiotic.

    Shinji Kagawa has been a victim of the formation, style of play and hype of others playing in his preferred position but his performances have been poor. Watching him play thus far those three factors aren’t why I see him play poorly. I accept he wont defend the fullback or drive to the touch line but the way he falls over, mis-controls the ball and gets caught on the ball isn’t excusable for those reasons.

    It’s improved recently because our formation has changed, style of play has become more fluid and the overhyped teammate has played as a central striker.

    #moyesout or nothing will improve.

  21. LoneStarRed7 says:

    MADNESS, madness you say. You want madness. Go to livelifeunited.com and read his analyses re Moyes tactics and his changing of behind the scenes personnel.

    http://livelifeunited.com/

    The sooner the better so we can get back to winning ways.

  22. OpikBidin says:

    Funny thing when I read the article is that Kagawa will shove Rooney and Mata out of no.10 position if he want to used to the maximum extent.

    The talk about him who doesn’t cover the fullback is a lie, the fullback is actually more helped by Kagawa than other players. Young who gift the goal against Liverpool, Giggs who freed Sagna crossing, Welbeck who can’t track Walker and help Evra against Lennon.

    For assists and goals, maybe we should start Januzaj and Valencia ahead of anyone else. their goals and assists are the best. The idiotic thing is judging everything solely on goals and assists

    Why was Saha preferred over RVN?
    Why was Mandzukic preferred over Gomez?

    Rather than

    “All We Need is a Manager has an inkling of how to deploy offensive schemes more sophisticated than just launching crosses into the box” .
    “All We Need is a Manager has an inkling of how to deploy defensive schemes more than just watching the ball, stay still and out of position”

    For all the talk about crosses against Fulham, it was lazy defending, lazy tracking, out of position and poor clearance that led to the 2 goals conceded

  23. Trafford_Lord says:

    I don’t believe Moyes is not a top manager

    I don’t believe Moyes would not have broken points total record at Everton had he stayed

    I don’t believe its Moyes fault we are not currently in top 4

    I don’t believe it’s Moyes fault we have to now offer players over 250k in wages so they can come to United

    I don’t believe Everton players and their cunty stories of ball training and match day mentality

    I don’t believe Moyes record against top sides at Everton

    I don’t believe Moyes record at winning trophies

    I believe in the United board and their well thought out decision to give Moyes a 6 yr contract.

    :) :) :)

  24. Trafford_Lord says:

    How are we doing today mates? What’s the latest on the fake approach of Van Gaal?

  25. andrew maina says:

    David Moyes is only comfortable managing avarage and mediocre players. I think tactically gifted footballers of the present day confuse him. Thats the reason why he prefers to play Young, Cleverly, Valencia, Fellaini etc as compared to the likes of Kagawa/Januzaj/mata. He prefers one dimentional players who put in a heavy shift, hoof the ball up at every opportunity and whose only move is to “get to the byline” and hoof it across in hope. He can play all these avarage players in one line up ie young on the left, valencia on the right, clevely in the middle with fellaini, but it mortifies him to combine tactically gifted players in the same team unless there are injuries involved.
    Kagawa has only come into contention when his hoof players have been injured, period. Manchester united should fear for the calibre of players he will bring in. Hoof hoof hoof, no class, no style. Am sorry for us united fans, we will endure a very tough time until the day the board realize that they made a grave mistake handing over a massive club to a small mid table minded manager.

  26. OpikBidin says:

    andrew maina

    Why wasn’t Welbeck and Chicharito preferred to RVP and Rooney?
    Why Mata is preferred above Kagawa in the no.10 position? Isn’t Kagawa more suited as he is also a pressing machine and put a heavey shift?

  27. Paschal Agwunobi says:

    We all know its moyes’ fuckin fault. Can u tell me we would have been 7th in the table if we had hired mourinho? I hate sentiments,we all know moyes is so clueless, he has nothing to offer to a top side. Even if he was given man city’s job(which he will never ever get in his whole career), even with that star-studded squad, he will still have flopped big time ,and gotten sacked. He’ s too scared to be a manager of a top side, he allowed an unfit Rooney to play bayern’s match when he knew he couldn’t even take a shot with that leg. He keeps playing expired players like Young, evra, Vaalencia and benches flair and creative players like Januzaj,kagawa and nani, cos he prefers useless workhorses to creativity. I haave never ever seen such a negative tactician like Moyes. The earlier he’s sacked the better for us. Our opponents want us to keep moyes by all means, cos they know he’s not good and with him at the helm, they will easily destroy us. Am sure the likes of Mourinho, Rogers , and pellegrini will love us to retain moyes, cos at least with him and his clueless backroom staff, they are very sure of getting 3 maximum points from us at every meeting. The earlier he’s sacked and replaced with a competent. Manager, the better for our club.he will have to go wether now or next season, am very sure that Moyes can’t cut it at united! United is not the type of team for a low calbre mid-table coach like him..am too sure of it! Wether he’s sacked now or given more time, he will still end up sacked. The earlier he’s sacked , the better for our club!

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