Shinji Kagawa has revealed to The Independent's Ian Herbert that Sir Alex Ferguson has advised him to "face the goal, or you won't be a threat." The Japanese playmaker has made a very positive impression on everyone associated with Manchester United since his arrival in the summer. Now, the United manager has begun passing on advice about how to further improve his contribution to the team's play.
According to the report, the main points of Ferguson's advice to Kagawa involve doing the following things: facing the goal instead of having the goal at his back, moving his body so that he stays closer to goal, shaping his body to face the stands and strengthening his upper body and trunk to cope with the physical rigors of the English game.
This must come as positive news for all Manchester United fans who have been excited by the addition of Kagawa to the squad. It indicates a belief among the coaching team that it is their job to improve all the new players who join United. It also shows that Kagawa has been thinking hard about his game and is willing to put in the shift required on the training ground from players of his level.
A Positive Start to Life at Old Trafford
Kagawa has made an extremely positive start to life at Old Trafford since his move from the German champions, Borussia Dortmund. After being United's most impressive player during the pre-season friendlies, he carried his good form into the Premier League. The United number 26 has made seven appearances so far, scoring two goals. In addition, he supplied the assist for Michael Carrick's winning goal in the Champions League opener against Galatasaray.
Kagawa was an ever-present in the first five games of the season for Manchester United as he played in the hole as a supporting striker/attacking midfielder behind Robin van Persie. The initial impression was of a player who was skilled on the ball and also in finding spaces between lines. His passing statistics and play in the final third were especially indicative: he averages nearly 50 passes a game with a success rate of 90%.
Relative Ineffectiveness in Recent Games
Starting with the fortunate win against Liverpool, though, Kagawa has had relatively quiet performances. In the three games since then, his play has been neat and tidy rather than spectacular. He has rarely given the ball away but at the same time, he hasn't really created too many chances.
Part of the reason for this quiet period has been Manchester United's own form. In the games against Liverpool and Tottenham, United lost control of the midfield for a long period. This meant that supply lines to Kagawa were cut and he had to drop deep to receive the ball. In the most recent game against Newcastle, Kagawa actually started in a deeper position on the right. In comparison, he was receiving the ball much higher up the pitch in the games before, which made it easier for him to make those telling contributions.
Looking forward, Shinji Kagawa's form is going to be of immense importance to Manchester United's prospects of winning silverware this season. His presence in the team gives United an unpredictability that they definitely lacked last season.
In the short term, it will be interesting to see how Sir Alex Ferguson decides to integrate both Kagawa and Wayne Rooney into the same side as RvP. But judging from the noises coming from both the manager and the player, they are excited by the possibility of glory that Kagawa's inclusion into the Manchester United squad brings.