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Shinji Kagawa – Functional, Efficient and Beautiful

“Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you’re not aware really of the solution, you’re not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved.” – Jonathan Ive

As with any sport, football lends itself to classification. There’s a pleasing definition and closure to stuff. Players are categorised, teams ranked and records made, with a pleasing number of universal acceptances and truisms helping punctuate conjecture and debate.

Each player is seen to have a function and we measure effectiveness based on their ability to fulfil it. Goalkeepers and defenders generally act as barriers to entry whereas forwards are tasked with breaking resistance. Even the more general remit of the midfielders involves specific roles.

Where this clarity and logic falls down is when certain types of players are specifically referred to as being ‘functional’. As if functionality is a function in itself. ‘He isn’t one of those fancy-dans types, he’s functional’.

Surely each and every player has a function? Otherwise they’re redundant and pointless. Any player not performing a function for the team is by definition completely useless. ‘Functional’ in this sense really means ‘basic’. They win and/or distribute the ball without fuss or flourish.

The antonym is the ‘creative footballer’ or more derogatory ‘luxury signing’. Such players seek to create rather than destroy, allowing us to define football more as art than science. As such they can be unfairly characterised as somehow superfluous or decadent. A want rather than a need.

This of course is baloney. The prime goal in football is a goal. You gain and retain possession for long enough to score. When Bill Shankly once stated that “Football is a simple game, complicated by idiots” he wasn’t wrong. Which brings me to Shinji Kagawa.

Kagawa is a creative player. He creates and scores goals. But this doesn’t make him pleasant excess. He is no more a luxury than the goalkeeper. If we define a functional footballer in terms of how well they perform their required role, he’s one of the most functional players around.

His beauty is his simplicity. Whereas other players dazzle with their showboating and offer up more lollipops than Jimmy Savile on a school visit, the Japanese forward is wonderfully efficient in everything he does. He won’t take three or four touches when one or none will suffice.

Shinji marries form and function. The brilliance of his play is rooted in perfectly honed technique, clever movement which either buys him space or displaces defenders, and wonderful vision. He’s pleasing on the eye, but that’s because he makes it all seem so effortless.

If function is measured on effort exerted and the resulting fruits of that labour, then he has is far more functional than say Alan Smith, who wasted a lot of energy and bluster achieving very little. If anything it could be argued Smith was the luxury. A pointless Energizer bunny. A mascot.

Kagawa also runs around a lot. And closes down defenders. And makes unrewarded darts around the pitch. But he does it with intelligence and purpose. He could easily double his efforts, garner all sorts of praise and plaudits for his ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’ but be half as effective.

It’s perhaps part of the problem with football in this country that the important but secondary tasks of covering ground and ‘keeping things tight’ are arbitrarily seen as more essential and fundamental to a team’s success than something as necessary as creating goals.

Creativity is a need not a want. It’s absolutely necessary. Just because players as talented and skilled as Kagawa make it look easy doesn’t detract from its importance. Crafting an opportunity to score a goal is not easy. It’s just made to look that way by those who do it best.

Kagawa is a gloriously functional thing. Use him properly and often and he will perform to an excellent standard. He may not end every game with muddy knees and a red face but that’s because he doesn’t need to. He understands the power of simplicity and does football well.

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197 Comments

  1. DreadedRed says:

    Fellaini says: “I don’t want to tell you everything what happened during the transfer. This was done at the last minute. In a transfer window, there is always a list of players, you never know if it’s true or not. But for me, I knew [Moyes] was interested in me.”

    “Chelsea? No comment. Arsenal? It’s true, they were interested, but Manchester United convinced me to sign for them.”

  2. John says:

    @DreadedRed…liked the quote of SAF..hope that last sentence is understood by all..

  3. DreadedRed says:

    “David Moyes has given me confidence,” Fellaini added.

    “When I was in trouble early at Everton, he helped me and supported me. He did everything for me to become a great player. I was criticised, nobody knew who I was. I succeeded because I worked a lot. That’s why I’m playing for Manchester United today.”

  4. John says:

    @DreadedRed…if anyone asks Moyes as why he let Everton contract run down and were there top clubs after him other than united, then i don’t think answer will be any different from felliani!!..(though we know none wanted him)

  5. DreadedRed says:

    John

    So you like that quote because you think you can use it to your advantage. Unreal.

    Yet you vehemently disagree with SAF on Moyes, and scornfully deride the pair of them whenever you feel like talking to someone in RoM.

    Cherry-picking, no?

  6. DreadedRed says:

    From that link ^

    On Gianfranco Zola. “He played with a smile on his face,” Ferguson cooed. “I remember a goal he scored against us, he sent Gary Pallister so far the wrong way he needed a ticket to get back in the ground.”

  7. CC says:

    @keanoidaman

    I am actually a bit worried that if more than one poster appears to say something that contradicts the sheeple then your tiny mind goes straight to an online hidden conspiracy theory where the one single mad lunatic bad-guy who radically thinks “United could be better and maybe its not perfect”
    To YOU – This guy is pretending to be several different people and is using aliases to make people think he is legion? He has set up a VPN account and is using several IPN addresses so that he can undermine the REAL FANS on here and criticize His Holiness The Ferguson or Our Saviour and Divine White Pele St. Wayne of Croxteth
    Really mate………? Get a grip or smoke less ganja or whatever else is taking your thinking to these dark places of conspiracy and plotting against you.
    Mental Health is not something to be ashamed of mate, talk to your GP before the voices get louder and tell you that me, @John and @TheTruth are coming to get you.

  8. wayne says:

    CC everyone knows you’re a troll and cunt and would have to be a fucking retard not to realize there are posters on here using more than one user name,even if there isn’t still 6 to 10 posters who never have anything good to say.
    I never understand you troll cunt’s always come out making fun of my age or that i’ve mental health problems,lonely etc etc,considering not one of you cunts have ever met me or have any idea what my life is like,really is about as childish as one gets.Just a juvenile deflection because i’m telling the truth,you pathetic sad cunt.

  9. wayne says:

    oh and i never said anyone was plotting against me you thick cunt,said a group of posters come on this blog to disrupt it,so even when you try and attack can’t even get it right fucking moron

  10. keanoisdaman says:

    cc….john has alias’s,the prick fucked up on another thread and posted the same post word for word under two different names,and the reason why i questioned if you were another alias is because you sound a hell of alot like him…a bit like a sheep!! youre a troll….and not even a good one…wanker

  11. John says:

    @keanoisdaman…I made it absolute clear that was just a banter between mates..I think if I had sounded like a sheep but was following the “SAME BOX” to think as i mentioned in above post like you do..then i don’t think you would have bothered to “chase” thread after thread over a simple banter(was nothing actually)..Food for thought!!

  12. DreadedRed says:

    Food for thought? We don’t like tripe, and your banter is threadbare.

  13. keanoisdaman says:

    john…piss off…you fucked up.i’ll debate with you but dont try and take the piss….anyone with more than one alias will eventually fuck up like you did…seen it all before..done it myself when i was younger.i dont think everything is rosy,there are things fergie did i didnt agree with,there are things moyes does that i dont agree with….but i will get behind him because he is our manager.But there are pricks on here that moan about everything he does…calling him clueless,dithering dave etc…how is that good for the tean? morons

  14. John says:

    @DreadedRed…Cherry-picking, no?

  15. DreadedRed says:

    No.

  16. CC says:

    @John

    Its not worth trying to talk sense to half of them on here as they struggle to hear anything less than reassurance that all will “come good in the end, it always does cos we`re United and we BELIEVE”

    I have concluded that all the usual unwashed detritus that jumps down your throat with name calling like “Troll” “You`re a City fan” “Youre ten different people” or the favourite “cunt”
    These are the ones who have little other than United in their lives, for most I suspect, United really is the “most important thing in my life” and not just rhetoric. So to criticize United or any facet of the Club appears to them that you are directly criticizing them and their life. In a way, I suppose we are so I know just choose to say it as I see it and ignore all the subsequent abuse from those father-less urchins on here who dreamt that their real Dad was Fergie and one day when they wake from their reveries Fergie and Mum will be sat at the breakfast table and you will be a family again just like the other kids lol

    Ignore the sad pricks John, they already think we are the same person hahahahahaha

  17. John says:

    @cc..LOL

  18. CC says:

    @john – Its funny cos its true. Even now at least one of them thinks that we are still two different people and we are now writing to ourselves responding to our own aliases.
    They have gone quiet because they want to say “CC fuck Off Cunt” or something similar but know now that it just proves the point.
    One wont be able to help himself, his emotional incontinence will let him down again.
    I just wonder which of the usual suspects will be the first to verbally shit in his own mouth this time.

  19. CTRED says:

    As stated earlier on another thread in playing Kagsmon the left I think Moyes is just tring to get all the best players on the pitch. But I don’t know why it needs to be that complicated. In a 4-2-3-1 you can play as number 9 and 10:
    Rooney – RVP (what Moyes has played 90% of the time)
    Rooney-Chica
    Kags – Chica (only 10 mins of it this season which happened to be when we came back against Stoke)
    Kags- RVP
    Kags-Rooney

    It’s a long season. You don’t need RVP and Rooney in the lineup every game. Rotate them and pick the combos as the opponents traits dictate and as the players form fluctuates. Use the various combos for sub situation.

    Separate from the debate of who is better number 10′, I think it is clear Kags and Rooney both bring something different to that role. Kags is more creative, quickens the play, works others into the game better and makes other players more dangerous. He’s also lighter and easier to knock off the ball but that’s not a bad thing inside and just outside the box where defenders need to be a lot more careful when he is on the ball. Rooney is more powerful, is more of a shooting threat, tracks back better, and usually keeps a defender occupied.

    I am not of the school that Moyes continues to play Rooney to keep him happy. After all, the first time the situation called for it (against Stoke) he didn’t hesitate to drop Rooney into midfield.

    Kagawa played well when he moved centrally against Sociedad and maybe that was part of Moyes’ calculation to put him in the no. 10 for the end of the Stoke game. The next logical step is to give him a start in that spot and hopefully we’ll see that against Norwich.. It would be his 3rd game in a week though..

  20. John says:

    @CC…yeah mate you are spot on about it…I actually find it funny to be honest!!..they gang up even at facts which are crystal clear and so obvious!!..I never thought the effect of delusion can be so chronic when you want to ignore the fact moyes blew it up at summer..I mean from coaching staff to transfer targets..So, people here try to make it out that to remind them this obvious facts to anyone here is like, you know what..but i think you were spot on sumed it up really.

  21. Wee Toms Ligaments says:

    Please stop feeding the Troll. It will go away eventually.

  22. CC says:

    @CTRED

    Good post mate.

    I hope Shinji doesnt get some sort of negative association with Norwich though – Poor lad scored a beautiful Hatrick against Norwich last year and was subsequently dropped for the next month to make way for the Chelsea want-a-way Wayne.

  23. scholes says:

    somebody mentioned that shinji cannot pass a player. that is the most atrocious accusation that one can put on a professional footballer of stature of shinji.

    being a genuine playmaker, he looks for subtle movements and turns in front of him to make a pass. his job, to simply put, is not dancing around defenders. giggs does it but is he a midfielder? januzaj does it but he is more in the mold of wide player who can thread a pass to others

    read about mr jamie carragher comments about SAF’s autobiography. i wonder what has our old man done to excite almost every person on the planet. carra just cannot take criticism and acts like mr know it all. he was one the most boring and mechanical defender i have ever seen.

    (if tomorrow rafa benitez comes up with a book and claims that utd was most overrated, undeserving and despicable champions of england, i am sure not many would take him seriously)

    gary neville was not too much behind in this respect but he has the audacity and honesty to acknowledge his lack of hair raising talent (widely admitted in his autobiography).

    on an extremely jubilant note, it is heart warming to see fletcher returning into action. hopefully in a month time, he will be starting games for manchester united

  24. roboo7 says:

    Fletcher is back!!!

  25. matty says:

    keanoisdaman says:
    It doesn’t take balls to sell rooney to psg….it takes
    stupidity….Like it or not rooney is utds best player
    not kagawa(he never will be) If you asked any
    manager in the world who they would rather have
    how many do you think would pick kagawa?

    And still no manager even stumped up 30million for your wazza messiah. Deluded twat!

  26. matty says:

    Even funnier when the only manager that rates him as much as 24mil wanted him as a no9 and not as a no10. Fuc*ing british meat-heads, hyping another limited meat-head. Same logic that had you ancient bell-ends play scholesy in the left wing(just like kagawa) just to accomodate your hoof-and-run stevie and frankie. Same you ignorant tossers ruined the career of glenn hoddle and every technically gifted player to ever come out of that island yall inhabit.

  27. matty says:

    keanoisdaman says strootman is just decent? Oh lord on high, this guy must really watch football games through the back of his head. Tf? I’d bet if strootman was english your dimwit media woulda hyped him as the second coming. A 21yr old who’s already first choice for the dutch national team and even wears the armband on occasion is just average? How many of ur technically bereft central mids would get into the dutch first eleven?
    Go watch the serieA and see how this guy (in tandem with pjanic and derossi) been bossing the entire league. 9games played, only 1goal conceeded. And before you go on about the standard of the serieA, please tell me the trophy ratio between the italian and the english NTs. Fact is you self-loving meat-heads need to broaden your horizon, learn more continental methods/tactics and stop sucking your own god damn di*ks everytime.

  28. DreadedRed says:

    I support Kagawa because he plays for United.

    I can only guess that the majority of the vociferous pro-Kagawa-but-anti-young-anti-Nani-anti Giggs-anti-Rooney-anti Moyes brigade actually support United because we bought Kagawa.

    These ‘supporters’ would likely leave United if Kagawa left. Anyone that comes on this site and states that they hope Kagawa leaves as he is better off elsewhere, almost definitely supports Japan. They want him ‘firing’ for their National team; they want to watch him performing well in the Champions League every week; and these criteria are more important to them than United is.

    United, wife, kids? No. For them, Kagawa comes before United.

  29. DreadedRed says:

    matty

    When you spoke about the English media, you used the adjective ‘your’, so I take it that you are not English or living in England? Neither am I, Africa is my home.

  30. DreadedRed says:

    “most atrocious accusation that one can put on a professional footballer of stature of shinji”

    The stature of Shinji is somewhat diminutive. Perhaps with time, effort and coaching it will grow.

  31. dragon_beast_false prophet (PROONEY) says:

    Of course Wazzas astronomical wages have been factored into his effective cost and not just the transfer fee. In these days of FFP petro clubs can’t just go splurging willy nilly. Of course 35 millions currently being bandied about in the papers by Chelsea is fair market value considering Wazza id coming to the end of his contract and, of course, thr 300k he is probably gonna be pocketing every week. Ibrahimovic was bought for 20 something millions by psg for all the same reasons I have elucidated above. The ball is in utds court.

  32. mancdub says:

    Matty
    The only ones hyping up the England team are the English media. I don’t know any English person that rates them any better than average.
    If you believe the English media is a true reflection of the English public then your just a fucking clown.

  33. keanoisdaman says:

    Matty you thick prick it was a swede that played scholes on the left……strootman is 23……and if you bothered to read the post before the lad said “strootman looks decent” that’s where the word “decent” came from…….if he was as good as you say he is though why did he end up at roma? Why didn’t barca,real Madrid,bayern munich,chelsea etc go in for this world beater??
    You call people deluded for wanting to keep rooney…does this include fergie the greatest manager the world has ever seen? you want to get rid of rooney who either scores a goal or creates one in 3 out of every 4 games he plays in……yeh good one…..its a good a retard like yourself isn’t manager then,you know fuck all about football.

  34. keanoisdaman says:

    Oh and by the way matty,if you say the Italian league is better than the Spanish,german or the English league at the moment then don’t even bother replying because then you are stupider than I thought.what do you mean by trophy ratio? are you going on about the champs league? if so then Italian teams have won it 12 times the ,same as English teams with the Italian teams winning it more times under the old format,and English teams being in 7 out of the last 10 finals which would suggest that the English league is stronger at the moment.

  35. mancdub says:

    He was talking about national teams. I assume that’s what NT’s means. Not sure what the England team has got to do with Rooney being a better number 10 than Kagawa at the moment though. Which he clearly is.

  36. keanoisdaman says:

    which is even more confusing as he’s talkin about how good strootman is.

  37. Mr C says:

    @Matty. Well said. The Rooney delusion is an affliction that affects those whose limited footballing conscousness cannot imagine life at United without this decent but seriously overrated and disruptive player. We’ve lost much better players than Rooney before and progressed .This is United and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We cannot afford to lose players like kagawa, Chico and possibly others, or diminish RVPs effectiveness, by submitting to Rooney’s preferences. There were few takers for his services when he tried his last want away stunt so Rooney needs United more than United needs him. Probably thinks Xmas has come early with Moyes replacing SAF as he’d have had to do what he’s told it be fucked off in no uncertain terms. IMO we should get rid if possible because Rooney advised by his agent is bad news.

  38. vimmer says:

    Nice post
    Kagawa is team player
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9pKoeCe1W0

  39. keanoisdaman says:

    All I can say its a good job they don’t let 12 year olds who are good at champ manager manage utd.

  40. The Truth says:

    “The Rooney delusion is an affliction that affects those whose limited footballing conscousness cannot imagine life at United without this decent but seriously overrated and disruptive player.”

    Also well said. People felt the same about us losing Ronaldo, and Ruud, and Keane, and Becks and there was the summer of 1995 when we offloaded Hughes, Ince and Kanchelskis and a poll of Manchester Evening News readers showed most wanted Fergie sacked immediately!

    You hit the nail on the head, their imaginations have very limited parameters. Be aware that on this blog you are probably dealing with a few people who have only ever known United with Rooney. For them, Rooney is as much a part of United’s identity as our kit. Scary thought.

  41. keanoisdaman says:

    The truth……..my first utd game was in 1972 and ive seen all kinds of great players come and go…and yes utd carry on with the next great player,but rooney is still in his prime,still scoring roughly one in every two games,still creating assist when he isn’t scoring…..if the messiah kagawa could better that ratio I`d have him in like a shot….but I know he wont ever get anywhere near rooneys stats….so in my view it would be senseless to sell rooney and play kagawa..if that makes me deluded then so be it….im happy to be deluded like most MATCH going fans who happen to agree with me.
    You want to try a game now and then.

  42. dragon_beast_false prophet (PROONEY) says:

    Everyone knows Wazza will only leave English shores if he is left with no other option. He has a young family and his wife is said to not be overeager to even leave the Northwest. I don’t get the unnecessary vitriol towards Wazza. It’s so easy, Chelsea are coming in January with 35 millions. Form a pressure group and lobby the top brass to take the offer pronto. At least nobody can come on board and say you never tried. Until Wazza leaves, thr “done thing” is to give every member of our playing staff your unwavering support. They are our troops. Anything less equals sabotage in my book.

  43. zibbie says:

    poor deluded Sir Alex Ferguson
    por deluded cappellO
    you poor bastards are the diluted ones

  44. The Truth says:

    @keanoisdaman

    Who was talking about you? You’re not even on my radar.

  45. keanoisdaman says:

    Oh I know that little en

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