Shinji Kagawa Must Accept Left-Sided Role to Remain at Manchester United

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentDecember 6, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on December 4, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Shinji Kagawa has accepted it, now Manchester United fans must do the same—the Japanese midfielder is destined for a life on the left at Old Trafford.

He was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson because of his performances as a No. 10 for Borussia Dortmund. And he's given United fans tantalising glimpses of his undoubted ability in the role against Real Sociedad and Bayer Leverkusen this season.

But sometimes, things just don't work out the way you expected.

In an interview with United's matchday programme, reported by the Manchester Evening News, Kagawa hinted he was happy to play on the left and that he was focused on getting better at it.

I played behind the main striker at Dortmund, but I usually play on the left with Japan.

I should be flexible enough to play in a number of roles, so I am a more attractive player to the team and can contribute even more.

Every day I am learning how to trouble my opponents on the left, how best to cause them problems with my movement. But I would still like to be capable of taking up more positions.

It's an attitude that should please David Moyes. Kagawa is a fine attacking midfielder, with attributes suited to playing behind the striker. But it's an extremely specialised role, one he won't get many opportunities to play in at United.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on December 4, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Imag
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Moyes inherited a squad in which the two best players are strikers. And if Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are fit, they are going to play. That doesn't leave much of a hole for Kagawa. 

But with Nani and Ashley Young struggling to find any form and Adnan Januzaj still learning, there will be opportunities to play on the left.

Kagawa is facing a situation of adapt or die. Or adapt or leave, to be more accurate. 

His interview suggests he's chosen to make the best of the situation he's found himself in. 

At 24 years old, he's still young enough to learn new tricks and mould his game. He's good enough to use the touch and technique that makes him a good No. 10 to become an effective wide midfielder. As he said himself, he's had experience there playing for Japan.

Since arriving in the summer, Moyes has shown a commitment to playing 4-4-2, or at least a variation of it. There are a number of elaborate formations that could accommodate Kagawa playing behind Rooney and van Persie. But they are for kids playing FIFA, not the Premier League.

Under Moyes, Kagawa will find most of his opportunities come on the left. It's up to him to make it work.

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