Why the Best is Yet to Come From Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa

While he is a pure class striker at the peak of his powers, Robin van Persie is not Sir Alex Ferguson’s best signing this past summer and not necessarily the one that Roberto Mancini should be ruing about. Mancini has made it clear and publicly known that Manchester City were chasing his signature and that RvP’s decision to go to the red half of Manchester will ultimately be the difference in the title race. That will most likely be true this season, but in the foreseeable future the best signing this past summer was the diminutive attacking midfielder, Shinji Kagawa.

Kagawa’s debut season with United has, at best, been pedestrian. A couple of goals, some flashy passes, but he’s generally been anonymous for many of his appearances. Clearly his knee injury that sidelined him for much of the first half of the season was a major hindrance to the level of cohesion he’d develop with his teammates. Take for instance the number of times he receives passes at his feet. For someone like Tom Cleverley or Michael Carrick, that is how you play them the ball. They want it right there so that they can swing the ball around quickly. But in the two seasons at Borassia Dortmund, Kagawa was at his best when the ball was played for him to run onto. Kagawa is a horror to deal with when he is running full speed at opposing defenses. His deft touch, vision, passing skills and uncanny ability to make quick and lethal decisions is what makes him a joy to watch. Unfortunately, United and their fans have yet to see him leading the charge on the break.

Since his brief return during the holiday run in, Kagawa has played a solid 87 minutes in two appearances and in each match, he showed the type of nerve, vision and downright craziness in his game to attempt the passes he played. Take for instance the little 1-2 flick he pulled off against West Bromwich Albion with Ashley Young that led to a goal. What other United player would even see that as a playable option? Then there was that tiki taka play of Barcelona-esque proportions with van Persie and Javier Hernandez against Wigan that dazzled and wowed the fans where there was a combination of roughly seven one-touch passes in a matter of seconds that bypassed the Wigan midfield.

What Kagawa needs is a run of games to start building the understanding an attacking player of his quality needs to have with his striking partners. But more importantly so that his teammates will understand how to play him the ball properly; ahead with some pace for him to run onto. He’s still young — only 23 — and his best qualities will shine for Manchester United in years to come. In three years time, he’ll be entering his prime and will have developed the trust and understanding of his teammates right when it’s probable that RvP’s powers will start to decline. Should United hold onto Kagawa, he’ll be darting through the heart of defenses with deft one touch passes with Cleverley and hitting lethal final passes to Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Chicharito.

RvP will return Manchester to red and bring the title back, but it will be Kagawa that will keep it that way for years to come.

20 thoughts on “Why the Best is Yet to Come From Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa”

  1. “Robin van Persie is not Sir Alex Ferguson’s best signing this past summer”

    95% of Man Utd fans will disagree. You know that right?

    1. Yes, I’m aware. It’s the same 95% that once said that Giggs was done about 4-5 years ago. Same 95% that said Carrick isn’t a United quality player – he’s been United’s most consistent midfielder. Same 95% that said De Gea shouldn’t be the #1 keeper after a half dozen games last season. Same 95% that said Macheda was United’s future and not Welbeck. Same 95%… well you get the idea.

      I know what the 95% say. I’m here to write about the 5%. =)

      1. I also believe Kagawa is Ferguson’s best signing but I somewhat disagree with the last statements you’ve made.

        Carrick is a decent player but imo United is perhaps the worse suited club for him to join in the EPL (Mainly because he slows down fast counter attacks by his hesitancy).
        I’d say Giggs has past it this year (even last year), still a solid footballer that will fit well with another team.
        DeGea is still awful imo. Causes numerous problems with his punching the ball straight back into the strikers feet. Something that he needs to improve on before being our no 1 GK.
        I’m clear with on this one! :)

          1. RVP is one hell of a signing for sure, but I really hope Kagawa can perform as he did at BVB. The stuff he did there was freaking amazing.

      2. Both Kagawa and Robin signed 4 years deals, Okay? So what life after Robin are you talking about?

        Facts: Since the turn of 2010, Robin has been the most prolific and the most deadliest striker across Europe. He has scored against almost every opponent in the premier league week in week out. Nobody has that kind of track-record.

        He matched Henry’s goal tally for a single year and he did that surrounded by mediocrity. He single-handedly lifted Arsenal to 3rd place last year when they were in the doldrums after suffering 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford.

        There is no match to his technique. But it’s difficult to explain to someone that hasn’t watched him play every week for Arsenal and Man Utd, but his goals always have come at the most crucial time. He did that countless times for Arsenal and now for Manchester United. This guy, what he has been able to do last year this year, he is the difference between winning and losing a premier league title. How many players can you say that for?

        Sir Alex compared his impact to the same that he had when Eric Cantona was playing at Old Trafford. How many players has he said that for? Unless you think Ferguson’s words are mere words and they hold no meaning.

        At the age of 29-30, most strikers begin to decline. Robin, because of his injuries in the early part of his career, is fresh and I won’t be surprised if he goes on for another 3-4 years at this level (baring injury, of course).

        You know Bergkamp dropped deeper when he got older and became more lethal, Robin has the same technique, so I wouldn’t bet against him playing till 38. Even he said that yesterday.

        Kagawa is good, but Robin is the best signing Sir Alex has made this year and probably the best after Cantona and Ronaldo.

        1. “So what life after Robin are you talking about?”
          Don’t know. Didn’t mention anything about life after Robin in this article.

          I also never mentioned anything about his goal haul or how good of a striker he is. In fact, I agreed with Mancini that he will be the difference maker this season in the title race.

          “Unless you think Ferguson’s words are mere words and they hold no meaning.”
          No, I didn’t say or imply any of that. But since you brought it up, this is the same manager that said ““It was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many, many years. Robin could have been killed.” in response to Ashley Williams kicking a ball at RvP’s head.

          1. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Does it hurt? You bet. Maybe a concussion if it hits the head the wrong way? Sure. Kill? Come on.

          2. The most dangerous play he’s every seen? Clearly he’s forgotten when Cantona kung fu kicked a fan back in 95.

          Ferguson’s words are just words. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong. This is the same person who said that he would never sell Ronaldo to Real Madrid and even said, “I wouldn’t sell them a virus.”

          But since you give the impression that SAF’s words hold a lot of meaning, did you know that he originally wanted Kagawa to wear the iconic number 7 jersey before it was given to Valencia? That same one he gave to Cantona, Keane, Beckham and Ronaldo?

          van Persie is amazing. There’s more quality in his right foot than most players in the EPL. His crosses have made United a much bigger threat on corners and set pieces this year. I will not debate whether he is an elite striker or not because he is.

          1. “RvP will return Manchester to red and bring the title back, but it will be Kagawa that will keep it that way for years to come.”

            Both of them signed 4 year deals. I thought years to come meant life after RVP. Not quite clear exactly what that years to come really is.

            Look, you are making hypothetical assumptions. I get it. It’s your opinion and everybody is entitled to have that.

            I gave you facts of Van Persie’s exemplary record in the premier league and what he has done so far for Man Utd. Going by his experience and his track record, I said he is the better signing of the two. But you have no real factual basis to claim Kagawa is the best signing, that’s simply your opinion and that’s fine. You are entitled to that, as I said before.

  2. You can’t argue against RVP being our best signing so far but Kagawa definitely has time on his side to make his mark.

    RVP could end up being one of SAF best ever signings as can easily play at the top for another 4-5 seasons. 24m looks like a bargain at this point in time.

  3. How can you say RVP is good signing? He came as a finished product. Every one knows his quality and ability. But kagawa has shown some but his peak years still ahead.

  4. Excellent article and I couldn’t agree more. In the modern game attacking midfielders are all the rage and why wouldn’t they be? They offer everything – possession, conservatism, dynamism, pressing up the pitch and, last but not least, beauty. RVP will indeed be the difference this season but Kagawa is a revolution. Where RVP is a mere upgrade in strike personnel, Kagawa’s arrival addresses the deficiencies that have seen United out-classed in Europe so often in recent years.

    Any thinking football fan who watched United’s failures last season will realise similarly – it wasn’t a lacklustre strikeforce that cost them, it was lack of creativity, pace and precision in the middle.

    1. Kagawa is a monster, when we talk about football, he is the player United was missing!! true talent and creativity. You saw him play at Borussia, let give him time and we will sing his name!!!! remember guys, he is a genius.

  5. Good article. I’m excited to see Kagawa get a good run of games and get settled in. Rooney’s injury could be good timing for this. I agree with what Adam says above, last season they were really missing the creativity needed. This season it’s more the defensive midfielder that’s missing, though it remains to be seen when the defensive woes will be covered. Most likely not till the summer. They’re going to need a defensive midfielder, a decent left back and a solid center back.

  6. I say javier hernandez has been an amazing signing considering his low cost and great performances. Its a pity how some label him as a super sub, but when played with first team he scores and he has scored many more goals as starter than off the bench. I applaud the boy for not leaving for another big club who will actually play him regularly because he scores and by next game he isnt even played. Good article, I believe kagawa will make a difference now that he is fit.

  7. It is just a matter of time.and people will see Kagawa as messi at OT just watch and see.The problem is that we judge people from theair starting ,wait till his end and u will see what kagawa is made up of.

  8. At Dortmund, kagawa was playing with creative players like gotze or reus… Players that fit with kagawa’s style.

    When I watch Man U’s games, I see kagawa initiating 1-2 passes with wellbeck for example but well beck doesn’t see these options … Man U doesn’t have the style kagawa needs to shine.

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