Shinji Kagawa started his second game for Manchester United within a week yesterday against West Bromwich Albion and many were surprised to see him taken off at half time for Adnan Januzaj.
David Moyes explained Kagawa’s withdrawl for Januzaj was merely to inject a different approach to a game United that had failed to get hold of but given how well Kagawa played, it seemed a harsh decision.
This week, the 24-year-old Japanese playmaker was given a role out on the left wing but his best moments came when he moved inside and played a more central role, a position he thrived in at Borussia Dortmund.
There’s no questioning that Kagawa is a much better player in his natural position but the form of Wayne Rooney means it is unlikely he will get regular playing time there any time soon.
Rooney has been nothing short of superb this season. He has now been involved in nine of United’s last 11 goals and in his free roaming second striker spot, the freedom Rooney is being afforded has given him the platform to flourish.
Moyes has made his loyalties clear to Rooney by handing him the captain’s armband for the last two games and unfortunately for Kagawa, he faces an uphill struggle to oust Rooney from the side on his current form.
And Kagawa faces a big problem when he is placed out on the left wing too. He doesn’t defend. It isn’t natural for him to track back and help his defence, which is why Moyes has been keen to use the likes of Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia rather than Kagawa so far this season as they bolster United’s defence too.
When it comes to big games so far, Moyes had adopted a counter attacking tactic with United sitting deep and hitting on the break. For that style of play, Kagawa isn’t the natural choice as his defensive game is weak.
It may simply have been to do with Moyes limiting the risks he took at the start of his United tenure. As the season progresses, he may go into bigger games with a more attacking mentality but the early signs so far indicate that Kagawa is going to find his game time limited.