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Kagawa’s Display in the Confederations Cup

Jurgen Klopp, the exuberent Borussia Dortmund manager, said that it broke his heart to see his former charge, Shinji Kagawa, shunted out to the left-wing for Manchester United. He felt Kagawa was far more effective in the hole, as a deep-lying striker. In the number 10 role.

Last night, in an extraordinary, breathless match between Japan and Italy in the Confederations Cup in Recife, Brazil, the United number 26 played on the left of a fluid Japanese formation and he looked like a proper number 10 at times.

Kagawa, along with his trusted lieutenants Honda (not the car) and Endo (not the BMX trick) was outstanding in what was a brave but ultimately futile display from Japan. I lost count of the number of times the commentators mentioned his name in the opening half-hour alone. He was to the fore as Japan dominated, racing into a 2-0 lead by the 33rd minute. And though the first was a rather debatable penalty – Buffon seemed to get to a woefully underhit backpass from the otherwise highly promising young Italy full-back De Sciglio fractionally before the Japanese forward – the second, scored by the ever-dynamic Kagawa, was up there with Neymar’s for watchability in this so-far excellent tournament.

Kagawa said: “For my goal I swivelled and hit it with my left foot. I was in the right place and I was in luck to score.” Which seems a little too modest. His sixpence-turn and immaculately controlled hit into the bottom right corner of Buffon’s goal was poised, picturebook, perfection.

His goal notwithstanding, Kagawa showed other encouraging signs for United fans. He was adventurous, but he was also economical, intelligent with the ball. Always moving, he found space expertly, and he sprayed a couple of Scholes-esque crossfield passes to find teammates in good positions. He also attempted two or three audacious dribbles.

And though he was also responsible for a second half miss which was right up there with his fluffed opportunity against Aston Villa in the 3-0 win which sealed our 20th title – here the miss was more costly as Italy immediately took it up the field and scored the winner in a pulsating tie which ended 4-3 in goals as well as woodwork-hits – his display here was a definite nine out of ten. Shinji might just be the creative influence we sorely need now Paul Scholes has definitely – maybe – retired. For good.

Ex-red Alan Gowling said that he wasn’t alone in the former player fraternity in believing that Shinji may, in time, come to be seen as a better signing than Robin Van Persie. Which seems to rather over-egg the pudding given RVP’s performances last season. But if David Moyes can get the best out of Kagawa – and that doesn’t necesarily mean playing him ‘in the hole’, it just means giving him creative license, as Zaccheroni allowed him for Japan last night – then we might just be onto a good thing.

That Norwich display at Old Trafford might just be the sign of things to come. He’s got an eye for a goal: last night’s lovely finish was his 14th in 44 Japan caps. And he’s still only 24. I’d like to see him given a proper run in the team.

One final comment. We started by talking about Klopp’s Dortmund. Well, hopefully his United career will follow a similar pattern to the one he had at Dortmund. There he got his hands on a league championship winner’s medal in his first season, despite missing a large number of games through injury. (Sound familiar?) And he went on to truly star for them in a glorious second season, playing a major role in Dortmund winning the league and cup double (Kagawa scored at the first in the 5-2 German Cup Final victory against Bayern Munich, under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson).

Andrew J Kirby is the author of the excellent ‘Fergie’s Finest’ which was released last month. His sports writing has featured in BBC Sport magazine, and on the Radio Five Live website. Follow him on Twitter.



  1. santafereno says:

    A wonderful display by Kagawa. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a dazzling season for this future legend.

  2. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Kagawa had a super game. Named man of the match as well.

    Photos circulating of his award presentation make it clear he was gutted to loose the match.

    Japan controlled huge periods of the match with Kags moving giving a master class. Ref was terrible however and gifted the italians a pen for a rediculous hand ball.

    Kagawa wins Man of the match
    Italians show enough to win it, just, in a 7 goal thriller
    Referee wins Cunyet Cakir MuppetRef award.

    Hope kags is alright. Got absolutely hammered by some very dodgy tackels.
    Good experience and deserves a good rest before preseason.

  3. mig78 says:

    Born in Japan, Forged in German, Perfected in Manchester

  4. Ash says:

    He was top class yesterday. He can easily score 15+ goals next season. He is just 24 so he is still not reached his peak. I feel Moyes will love to work with him. Bring a Thiago or Isco then we will have great team

  5. samuel - united WE stand says:

    The author of this article is bang on point. Kagawa may have looked he was fixed to the left but he was actually given license to be expressive and creative, he was popped up everywhere. The key is having a flexible team next season, united need to have players constantly interchanging and making clever movements, this suits an attacking playmaker like kagawa, he will able to get involved in any part of the final third. I always said it, he has the potential to be world class, he along with honda and endo controlled the game, kagawa for me mainly stood out, he glides across the pitch like a floating paper in the wind, popping cleverly into space and keeping things ticking. His first touch is fantastic, his passing is quality and purposeful, he also has that added composure and class which great players possess. I think a season of bedding in will do him wonders, he will be a lot stronger and more influential next season hopefully, his ability to link play, produce assists and goals will come to the fore. Pirlo and de rossi couldn’t get anywhere near kagawa and that’s saying something, just a pure class act and the more technical players we have around him, the better he will be.

  6. samuel - united WE stand says:

    And as for saying he could be a better buy than vanpersie, there’s every chance he could be in the long term. Top class player that will surely elevate into world class soon, has all the attributes to be. He will come back to united with even more confidence and belief, he will be influential next season hopefully and I hope woodward is arranging him a new contract, no time to waste.

  7. ChrisW says:

    I’ve never understood the obsession with playing Kagawa in the centre. He’s a very mobile player, as are Rooney and van Persie. The precise position in which any of those three play doesn’t really matter, just that they learn how to play together.

  8. nesh says:

    I really do have so much confidence kagawa will be a great player for us…if we just had abit of protection in the middle so he doesn’t have to fall back too much and look for the ball.

  9. King Eric says:

    He was different gravy last night. United have only seen a fraction of what the lad can do. He’ll be superb next season , injuries permitting.

  10. busby says:

    Kagawa underwhelmed in the same mannet in which berbatov underwhelmed. It is not their fault but the fault of the stale 442 formation. These two players would have shone in the 2008 team after queiroz left we got stuck with very rigid players who lack finesse such as valencia, park and young moyes can use kagawa as he used pienaar at Everton and it will bring out the best in him

  11. Ethio-Fergie says:

    He is a world class talent & will be among z finest soon…but let’s hope that moyes uses a fluid attacking system zat suits Kagawa…….

  12. LexxytheRed says:

    Tactically we regressed after Quieroz

  13. The One says:

    Looks like we only saw 30-40% of Kagawa last season then!!

  14. The One says:

    I mean, looks like we only saw 30-40% of Kagawa’s abilities last season then!!

  15. The One says:

    As for Thiago – please, please, not another Wesley Sneijder-like saga: has anybody seen this :

  16. Sparkz says:

    He CAN do a job from the left wing, just like Silva, Mata etc. Those guys start wide but have licence to drift.

    Thing is though, the way we sometimes play, we like our widemen to stay wide. That doesn’t suit Kagawa…which is why we’re best off playing him behind the striker.

    So it all depends on how Moyes wants us to play. Personally I like to see as many flexible players in that front four as possible. Guys that are technically good, can pop up in different areas and drag defenders about. We’ve got the players for it IMO

  17. wayne says:

    The One why are you posting the same link on every thread its also in Spanish look begging him to come him to come on Rom isn’t going to achieve anything,maybe send him a email might work better.If he comes fine if not oh well
    Lexxy how many trophies Utd won since Quieroz left?

  18. Bobby Charlton's Combover says:

    He was getting better towards the end of the season and has carried his form into the summer. Hopefully he’ll get some rest and come back firing for us. Cliché alert, but if he comes back firing on all cylinders it’ll be like a new signing.

  19. LexxytheRed says:

    Well! How many big european super power have United defeated since Quieroz left

  20. wayne says:

    Well over the span of 6 years only been one team better but that wasn’t my question if Utd have gone backwards how many trophies have Utd won since he left and also how well has he done as head coach since he left

  21. wayne says:

    He’s really moved up in the world since leaving Utd all the big clubs chasing him were is he now Iran,fuck me that has to be the football equivalent of Siberia

  22. Abe says:

    It was criminal he didn’t get more games, especially against Madrid, hopefully Moyes sees the light on him. Rooney wants to leave? Get 50 mil for him, put Kagawa behind RVP and use the cash to improve defence/DM

  23. CC says:

    Kagawa can only go on to impress next season. I really hope Rooney is dispatched elsewhere. Twice he asked to leave our club and I detest his attitude and lack of dedication. Without Rooney we are much quicker and more fluid in attack and Kagawa is a far better player than the Rooney of last couple of seasons. You wont see photos of him smoking and drinking or whoring or having his wig re-fitted. But most importantly, he will turn up game one of the season in shape, ready and hungry to win unlike the fat scouse traitor who needed sending to Nikes fat camp.

    I will be booing Rooney next year and dont bother with any comments about “how dare you boo a United player” Well – he is a disloyal cunt who deserves it – I cannot think of any player in our history who TWICE asked to leave the club.
    I believe Sir Alex. I dont believe scousers.
    Fuck him – we got Shinji

  24. TheCANTONA says:

    true mate. remember the outcry after we lost 1-4 to middlesborough in 2005/2006? a lot of united fans wanted to see the back of queiroz and SAF. funny how things has changed, suddenly quieroz is the best assistant manager united ever had.

  25. Toms says:

    “Ex-red Alan Gowling said that he wasn’t alone in the former player fraternity in believing that Shinji may, in time, come to be seen as a better signing than Robin Van Persie.”

    Been saying that all of last season. He needs to play in the AMC- even at the cost of Rooney.

  26. Toms says:

    “Ex-red Alan Gowling said that he wasn’t alone in the former player fraternity in believing that Shinji may, in time, come to be seen as a better signing than Robin Van Persie.”

    Been saying that all of last season. He needs to play in the AMC- even at the cost of Rooney.

  27. nesh says:

    CC…mate thats too much hate you almost bitter…let the lad go if he has no luv for the club anymore. I am pretty sure 95% 0fthe games rooney has played for us he has had 110% committed.

  28. CC says:

    @nesh “I am pretty sure 95% of the games Rooney has played for us he has had 110% committed.”

    That`s a bit wishful thinking mate. To be “committed” at all, you have to actually turn up fit and even if your statement is accurate then “95%” just is not good enough @ £250k week AND wearing our red shirt.

    He`s dead to me mate.

  29. samuel - united WE stand says:

    C C – gone over the top with that statement

  30. LoneStarRed says:

    CC ‘s comments are fair and deserved. Rooney has asked to be treated thusly. If you are on TOP FIVE WAGES for footballers world wide you have a much higher standard to adhere to.

  31. need to feel the love says:

    kagawa performance was something beautiful to behold got in from work switched the telly on and watched the match he was all over the show making the japs tick cool performance


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