David Moyes Should Hand Shinji Kagawa Key Role for Crystal Palace Clash
He scoured the market for a marquee summer arrival, but only his former Everton charge Marouane Fellaini was forthcoming. On the pitch, attacking performances were conspicuous by their absence against Chelsea and Liverpool, taken the gloss away from a 4-1 hammering of Swansea on opening day.
Scoreless and lacking in creativity in their last two outings, Moyes' men now need not only a win, but a win with panache. It is time for the former Everton supremo to reintegrate Japanese international Shinji Kagawa to his starting XI.
The wonderfully gifted schemer, named Bundesliga Footballer of the Year in 2012 by bundesligafootball.co.uk, arrived at Old Trafford last summer for £14 million (according to Transfermarkt) and in a stop-start debut campaign scored six goals in 20 Premier League appearances, by no means an outstanding figure. But in a transitional season where injuries hindered his progress, it was acceptable.
Back in training after an extended break, it would appear that the 48-cap international has yet to prove his worth to his new manager. Having made a seven minute cameo in the Community Shield against Wigan—three days before playing 90 minutes for his country against Uruguay in a friendly—Kagawa hasn't been seen in a red shirt since.
An unused substitute against both Swansea and Chelsea, he wasn't even in the 18-man squad for the defeat at Anfield, a game where United were crying out for a central attacking figure who could open up an opposition defence and could create openings for Robin van Persie. Without Wayne Rooney due to injury and no other recognised No.10 in the matchday squad, Kagawa's absence was nothing short of bemusing.
Now, with only four points from their opening three matches, in need of a performance full of attacking intent, not to mention a win, and having witnessed the Blue Samurai star in such effervescent form during the international break—scoring both in a 3-0 win over Guatemala and a 3-1 victory against Ghana—handing Kagawa the keys to the kingdom is the move to make.
Yet stationing Kagawa in his preferred central role is likely to do likewise and, in the long term, offering faith in Kagawa could be the best for all concerned.
Juergen Klopp did something similar having signed the player for a meagre £300k in 2010 and was rewarded as Kagawa played a major role in BVB's twin Bundesliga triumphs.
Now Moyes, whose tactical preferences in both his latter days at Everton and in his initial period at Old Trafford have appeared somewhat wedded to a 4-4-1-1 formation, can encourage a similar performance from Kagawa, despite what may or may not have been said this past week, as laid out by Ben Mabley in the Guardian.
A player of intelligent lateral movement, piercing runs directly through defences and skillful, incisive passing, the fleet-footed Kagawa has the kind of ability that can make all the difference at Old Trafford and not merely against Premier League relegation candidates. After witnessing United's lacklustre attacking play in their last fixture, Kagawa is just the kind of player Moyes needs, someone capable of playing between the lines and bringing out the best in others.
Should Shinji Kagawa be in the Manchester United Starting XI?
With an arm around his shoulder an perhaps a statement of faith from his manager, as well as a regular starting role, Kagawa can be the player United need to define even the tightest of matches this season, both at home and in Europe.
Starting with Saturday's clash against Crystal Palace, David Moyes should return Shinji Kagawa to his starting plans. Doing just that may well enable both to flourish at Old Trafford as the season progresses.
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