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Klopp: Kagawa on the left breaks my heart

Shinji Kagawa was voted the best player in the Bundesliga the season before he joined Manchester United, so despite winning the title in his first season, we’ve yet to see the best of him. He spent a large chunk of the earlier part of the season injured and has made most of his appearances on the left wing, instead of the central role he prefers.

This coming weekend poses some questions for Kagawa. His former team, Borussia Dortmund, play in the European Cup final and that is something he certainly would have been involved in. You would imagine he can see the bigger picture though and realistically hope to play in the final with us some day.

This season, only three players had more goals for us in the league than Kagawa and it is likely he will get more playing time next season, particularly if Wayne Rooney leaves.

Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund’s manager, has claimed that it breaks his heart to see Kagawa play such a limited role for United.

“Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes,” Klopp said. “Central midfield is Shinji’s best role. He’s an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw. But for most Japanese people it means more to play for Man United than Dortmund. We cried for 20 minutes, in each others’ arms, when he left.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. slim says:


    Well to be fair Sir Alex hasn’t much luck in adapting “certain types” of players into the premier league.
    Veron comes to mind, Anderson (well not entirely SAF’s fault he wolfs down burgers like no man business) Nani (just hasn’t quite fitted in)
    These type of players need flexible set up and formation. SAF’s formations have been anything but in the last few years. The boss seems to work well with energetic players than say very skillful ones

  2. wayne says:

    Andromeda sorry mate thought you were saying we can’t hear Klopp’s music
    slim Kagawa to start the season was very frail and had problems finishing games so whatever Klopp might say Kagawa wasn’t ready to play week in week out at the number 10 spot,then he got injured which slowed down his progress so playing out on the wing and slowly getting him adapted to the physical nature of the prem was a good option.I’m sure just like DDG needed Utd with have Kagawa on a strength/stamina training program.
    Mate if all you can come up with is Vernon and Anderson as Sir Alex’s failures i’d say that’s a pretty good percentage of adapting players after 26yrs and the 100′s of players that’s been through the club

  3. NBI Red Onion says:

    @ Alpha – yeah mate, I just don’t think Rooney can handle being benched and taken off in games and I am not sure he wants to work with Moyes, also fans will not support him the way they did. My view better to cut losses, focus on people who want to be here and get in people who really want to play here. Good luck to him, he can bugger off now.

  4. NBI Red Onion says:

    Kagwa is also more box to box than people give him credit for – look at how often he has helped out in defence when players like Ando can’t be bothered and Cleverly also lacks the skill do that, so many times Kags nips in and takes the ball off the foot of an attacking player in our third.

    Why do people always feel to play well in the EPL you need to bulk up? I don’t see how that is remotely true, Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Da Silva, Giggs, are not bulky players, no is Kagwa and he does not need to be. He needs to adjust to the pace of the game and the roughness, he did have to recover from injury, but I don’t think him putting on muscle should have anything to do with him playing.

    Also, part of the reason he fades a bit second half is because he is defensive minded and when not played as attacking CMF, he is still brilliant in defending but has to run more and due to our poor ability to keep possession in MF at times he has had to bust a gut to help the defence on more than once occasion.

    It’s also a fair and obvious point that United are a bigger name than Dortmund, I feel sorry for them, they have made and are losing great players. Would we ever have spotted Kags otherwise if Klopp hadn’t seen something in him?

    He had to help out this term and he did. Also there was the matter of where Rooney played and fitting him in. I really hope Moyes appreciates this type of player, but then Cahill was not big and he appreciated Arteta so hopefully he will.

  5. wayne says:

    it’s not a question of bulking up in the sense of a bodybuilder it’s putting on the right weight to be strong enough not to get run over and last the 90 mins.Oscar is a terrible example because he’s goes missing in games and has spent a lot of times on the bench no question he’s a light weight that needs work,plus none of those players except Mata play the number 10 role.Giggs isn’t skinny very wiry and muscular.Thought most people would realize the difference between strength/stamina training and bulking up like a bodybuilder,guess not

  6. Toms says:

    @ Daelm
    “what a tool he comes across as. this especially:

    “But for most Japanese people it means more to play for Man United than Dortmund. We cried for 20 minutes, in each others’ arms, when he left.”

    apart from the casual racism of “most Japanese” – in terms of which he attributes Kagawa’s choosing United over some mid-range fucking Gernal team to his “being Japanese” – the image of him holding onto the player and crying in his fucking hair for twenty minutes is pretty creepy. sad, at best.”

    Ok lets cut hte bullshit here. The way he put it was not in any possible way racist. That’s abusing the term and weakening our resolve to deal with actual ugly racism.

    What were we saying about Ronaldo or Cesc wanting to go back to Spain?

    Exactly. Our brand is so strong in Korea and Japan that United is probably the most prestigious team for a great asian player to wear the shirt for.

    Clearly the RVP signing mucked with how we were going to fit him in but I think we’ve all see his quality and brilliance and we know we’ll see more of him in the future. I promise you. We’ll end up saying that Kagawa was the better signing this season. That’s how good this guy is.

  7. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Klopp is absolutely right. Kagawa will get his time in the centre next year hopefully. Hope Dortmund win on Saturday. Klopp is a great great coach and was my immediate choice to succeed fergie.

  8. Hans says:

    The guy has a valid point. RvP would benefit more having Kagawa behind him than Rooney!

    Rooney, in an unlikely event thta he stays , should be happy if gets to play on the left.

  9. Markowire says:

    Agree with Klopp. Kagawa should be played in the middle. Although it is his first season. Hes had a few injuries set him back. I think hes done very well and scored some important goals including a hat rick. I see him having a bright future at United.

  10. chichagiggs says:

    agreed with Klopp here…. Rooney can fuck off to tra-la-la-ville, and leave the number 10 shirt for Kagawa. Van Persie with this guy behind him will be even more orgasmic than RVP – Rooney combination…. hopefully we’ll get this Left Wing mess sorted out under Moyes.

    Good Luck to Dortmund for the final. stoppage time winner, anyone? :D

  11. kkforManUtd says:

    I don’t know why every one is saying Kagawa won Bundesliga player of the year when It was Marco Reus who won for last season, just check in wikipedia or uefa website, he never won it.

  12. daelm says:

    “Our brand is so strong in Korea and Japan that United is probably the most prestigious team for a great asian player to wear the shirt for.”

    because, of course, you know what those asian players are like. they would NEVER choose a club for footballing reasons. status and brand obsessed. etc etc

    and even if Shinji Kagawa HAD made his own choice – as a person, with specific goals of his own – his “japanese-ness” would have over-ridden it when the carrot of status etc etc was dangled in front of his narrow, japanese eyes. that’s the only conceivable reason he could have left Dortmund etc etc etc etc etc etc


  13. daelm says:

    oh – i agree with Klopp that he should be played in the middle, by the way. and i think Klopp is a vastly over-rated tool, with little or no self-awareness, a self-obsessed narcissist whose stories all revolve around how clever he is, and by default how dumb everyone else was.

    it’s a persistent vanity that he ties to disguise by talking about how emotional and tearful every part of the the game makes him – he cries when the team wins, he cries when it loses, he cries when a player arrives, he cries when a player leaves, he cries when taking a shit and so on – in the hope that this appeal will make his unending self-promotion seem a natural by-product of his (endlessly referenced) child-like enthusiasm. he’s a tool, in other words. and an attention-thief.

    if you don’t believe me, here’s an easy test. read the following genuine quote…

    “The other coaches said: ‘Don’t you think it’s better to train playing football?’ No. I wanted the team to feel that they can survive everything. My assistant coach thinks I’m an idiot. He asks if we can train there. No. Can we run there? No. But we can swim and fish!”

    now imagine this was said by Phil “I Saved A Woman From Jumping” Brown.

    that’s all.

  14. OJM says:

    Daelm – How is what he said in any way racist? Don’t be so bloody sensitive. I think what Klopp is getting at is that when in comes to football teams, Man Utd are like a cult in Japan. Trust me – I’ve lived there. Would it be in any way racist to say that most South American players would prefer to go to Madrid and Barca over United? Of course not, that’s just how it is. It’s the same with Japanese players and Man Utd – we are simply HUGE in Japan.

  15. daelm says:

    “What were we saying about Ronaldo or Cesc wanting to go back to Spain?”

    it’s plausible that Ronaldo and Cesc wanted to go back to Spain because they had identified with the teams they went to from birth, one of them was Spanish, the other Portuguese with a connection to Spain, they spoke the language, knew the culture and one of them had developed there as a youth player. in once case – Ronaldo – Madrid was also his dead father’s team of choice, if i remember correctly, and his mother (whom he is exceptionally close to) spoke repeatedly of her desire that he play for Madrid before she died. so there was a family link, too.

    this is precisely zero percent the same as saying that Kagawa moved to United because he’s Japanese and therefore easily dazzled by brand or status.

    anyway. moving along.

  16. daelm says:


    “we are simply HUGE in Japan.”

    that’s not the point. it makes no difference whether we are huge there or not. that fat is irrelevant to the claim that Klopp is making. what IS the point is that Klopp attributed Kagawa’s move to United to his Japanese-ness, not to any good decision-making on his part. (or, as his comments recently make clear, to his desire to work with Alex Ferguson.)

    this is belittling and insulting, both to Kagawa and (in fact) to us. it implies that the only reason Kagawa moved was because he was dazzled – not because we offer a finishing school for great footballers, or because we offer the opportunity to live in an extraordinary football culture that is almost lost everywhere else in the world, or because we offer the opportunity to work with the greatest football manager ever seem, or that we provide players with a masterclass in football professionalism, one that they talk about for years after they leave us. no. it’s his asian bling-fetish.

    and no i’m not being sensitive, i’m being accurate. and i’m done being accurate now, because these are observations, not debates and i’m not arguing about them, i’m merely contributing them. it’s a minor observation, and you’re welcome to read it and pass on.

    lastly, the fact that he’s correct about Kagawa has no bearing on the fact that he’s a tool. these two facts co-exist peacefully, side by side, like a sad little turd floating peacefully alongside a rose petal, in a quiet country stream. i imagine that’s clear.

    anyway. moving bloody along now.

  17. daelm says:

    oh. and Bayern 2 – Klopp 1. (from a fucking penalty.)

    so, so much for that.


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