After 73 minutes of his second start so far this season, United’s 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, Kagawa was given a frank assessment of his play by his manager.
Moyes, per the Daily Star’s Gary Jones, said:
There were bits which I was pleased with, and bits where we were looking for a little bit more.
A lot’s been said [about his lack of playing time], but I think most people who watched would say he’s still short of being really at full match fitness.
Those are words that are likely to leave Kagawa’s former manager at Borussia Dortmund climbing the walls.
For much of last season, one in which Kagawa was hampered by injury, he was regularly played out of position by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson’s decision to deploy Kagawa on the flanks left the Japan international’s former manager at Borussia, Jurgen Klopp, flabbergasted.
In an interview with the Guardian's Donald McRae in May, Klopp said:
Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United, on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes.
Back in May, Klopp had words of advice for Moyes when he made it clear where Kagawa will flourish.
“Central midfield is Shinji's best role,” Klopp told McRae. “He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw.”
If you frame a player to Klopp’s words, a certain Paul Scholes springs to mind. There are plenty of people, talkSPORT’s Lee Roden among them, who are convinced Kagawa is the ready-made replacement for Scholes.
Filling the void left by a player of the standing of Scholes is no easy task, but Kagawa showed during his time at Dortmund that he can play that role.
It appears Moyes is still to be convinced, but the only way for Kagawa to win over his manager is to go the extra mile in training.
Kagawa needs to be the first into training and the last to leave. He needs to be at the head of the queue for the fitness and endurance sessions, in the front rank for the sprints and be seen to be working hard in the gym.
To put it simply, Kagawa needs to be a pest, to be in Moyes’ eyeline day in and day out.
Moyes is under pressure following a start to the season that has seen the team beaten in the Premier League by Liverpool and Manchester United.
If United had been unbeaten deep into September, and with a healthy lead at the top of the table, Moyes’ team selection could be justified.
The reality is, United are eighth in the table, five points adrift of the leaders, and they were comprehensively outplayed by City last week.
At some point Moyes will need to take a risk with his team selection. Kagawa needs to do the work on the training ground that will convince Moyes he should be that risk.