Shinji Kagawa moved to Manchester United with great expectations as he was the first player of his ilk to ever grace the Old Trafford stage but at this point of the season, the much vaunted playmaker has yet to really show United fans what he’s really about.
The lack of real world class performances is no fault of the diminutive Japanese as a combination of injury, adjustment to the physical nature of the Premier League and Sir Alex Ferguson not knowing how to use the former Dortmund man has seen Kagawa shunted to the left or played in a deeper role.
Even though situations have seen Kagawa look like a shadow of his usual self, the Japanese star has shown United fans glimpses of what he’s all about. His goal against Tottenham was reminiscent of his skill and knowledge of space. A simple movement between centre back and fullback and a world class chip to find the back of the net.
Kagawa not only showed what he’s capable of but brought the best out of van Persie. Neat passes into van Persie’s feet and the willingness to follow up his pass allowed van Persie to play with his back to goal which is when he really shows his class.
Kagawa continued to do well but a seemingly innocuous blow to the knee saw him leave the field. He was injured longer than expected and a few had even forgotten that the Japanese had signed for United.
With Kagawa’s return, many hoped he’d explode into action, like he did at Dortmund where he had broken a bone in his foot. There was no such explosion but a very wary Sir Alex as the Japanese has been carefully managed. During this re-integration, Kagawa may not be at his free flowing best but the sheer movement and vision integrated into his hard-working nature have left United fans squealing for more.
In a turn of events that could not have been seen, Manchester United has once again been blessed with a plethora of attacking talents. The once Rooney-reliant United have seen van Persie become their talisman alongside the ever reliable Rooney. The door seems to have been opened for Kagawa with Rooney’s injury and with West Ham in the FA Cup tonight, Kagawa should be given the chance to go through his repertoire of abilities.
The former Dortmund player will definitely bring a new dimension to United as he is a genuine playmaker, something that Wayne Rooney is being moulded into with varying success.
In Rooney and van Persie, United have two of the most naturally gifted players in the league. These players can change a game in a moment and with the vision and creativity of Kagawa, United could reach the goal of 100 goals in a premier league season with ease.
This all depends on whether United can get Rooney back to his defence-bullying best rather than the placid footballer that he has become. In recent times United have been weak defensively and with attack being the best form of defence, an attacking trio of Rooney, van Persie and Kagawa would definitely be the embodiment of attacking perfection.
Like all attacking players, they are reliant on the midfield. In Anderson, Carrick and Cleverley, United have players who can get the ball forward and allow the forwards to express themselves. It’s only a matter of becoming accustomed to the positions being taken up by their team mate.
With half a season to go, and Kagawa reaching full fitness, I am of the opinion that the young man will be the fulcrum of this United team. Against a star-studded Real Madrid team, Kagawa could be the difference between Champions League progression or another knock-out round elimination.