Thursday, 12 September 2013

What does the future hold for Shinji Kagawa?

Manchester United
Shinji Kagawa
Shinji Kagawa will be an instant hit at Manchester United was everybody's belief at the time Sir Alex Ferguson signed him from Borussia Dortmund. Kagawa had clearly been the best playmaker in Bundesliga for the past two seasons, and a lot was expected from him at Manchester. Sir Alex Ferguson had also tried the new diamond formation to fit in Kagawa in the tough to break through Manchester United team. However, Shinji Kagawa didn't perform at his best last season, only with the occasional sights of finesse and vision, failing to comprehensively win over the fans and the gaffer. It was always expected that, first season in England would be tough for Shinji Kagawa, given his lack of body strength and experience. The back injury and constant niggles didn't help him either, making only 20 appearances for United, scoring 6 goals, including a hat-trick. 

Shinji Kagawa is a technically gifted player, who plays at his best as an attacking midfielder, however, he was mostly played at the left side of the midfield where he lacked conviction and pace. With the role of attacking central midfielder taken by Michael Carrick, and Wayne Rooney playing behind the striker, Kagawa had to sacrifice his natural playing position, which ultimately led to lack of effectiveness in his play.
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp and Shinji Kagawa
When Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Shinji Kagawa had hoped that he would get more chances under David Moyes. However, Manchester United's style of play hasn't changed under David Moyes until now, and with the recent signing of Marouane Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa has more competition for his preferred position, although it is understood that Fellaini will play more as a holding midfielder. But, the bad news for Kagawa is that he hasn't started a single match for United this season. Although only 3 matches have been played so far, Kagawa hasn't even made an appearance off the bench. David Moyes is also seen to favour the 4-4-2 formation, which makes it even more difficult for Kagawa to play at his suited position. Recently, the English and German press claimed that, Borussia Dortmund were ready to re-sign Kagawa from United, however, the reports were squashed by Kagawa and his agent. Kagawa was quoted saying that, he was ready to fight for his place at Manchester United and wouldn't take the easier way out. David Moyes has also said that, Shinji Kagawa will be given his chances at Manchester United, and that he is very much a part of his future plans. Moyes also explained Kagawa's absence in the team sheet for recent matches sighting his lack of match fitness. However, Kagawa clearly proved in the friendly match between Japan and Ghana, that he is fully match fit and raring to go.

The question to be answered now is that, when will Shinji Kagawa get his chance at Manchester United at his preferred position of play, and will he, be able to capitalize on such chances as and when they arise, no matter how limited they are. One thing however is clear that, if Shinji Kagawa fails to impress the fans and the new gaffer this season, he will either be sold next season, or he himself would want to go back to Borussia Dortmund, where he has enjoyed so much success in the recent past, and is still loved by the German fans.
A possible attacking formation in which Shinji Kagawa may fit into the current Manchester United team is given below. Use the comment tab for any suggestions or changes.

Manchester United
Manchester United - Formation (Attack)
In this formation, Wayne Rooney, Kagawa and the left wing can interchange positions freely, as and when required. With a solid back 4, and both Carrick and Fellaini in the central part of the field, this formation gives Manchester United - solid defense, creativity from midfield, attacking intent with 4 top quality players up front and also a constant width from the overlapping fullbacks. The only limitation in this type of formation is that, it doesn't fit in all out  wingers. They have of course been an important figure in all the  Alex Ferguson teams down the years, however, now, with David Moyes as the United manager, some change in playing style is both acceptable and obvious. Also, a player who misses out in this formation is the inform Antonio Valencia, who has done exceptionally well playing at the right wing ahead of Rafael. The only possibility of his involvement in this type of formation is as a substitute for Rafael or Wayne Rooney. However, with this article, focussing on Shinji Kagawa, this formation suits perfectly for him. In this formation, he plays in his preferred position and at his best, without compromising with Wayne Rooney's performance or position. With a number of competitions and fixtures, David Moyes can certainly use each and every squad member in an effective manner and, as and when he wishes to use Shinji Kagawa, this formation may well prove to be perfect for both Manchester United and Shinji Kagawa.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Manchester United - A Transfer Period to forget?

Manchester United
Cesc  Fabregas
We have all seen how Manchester United have miserably failed in the transfer market this season. To some extent, it is true, keeping in light the fact that United have failed to land their major targets at Old Trafford this summer. With the more open pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, to the discrete efforts of signing Thiago Alcantara, Manchester United have failed and  not even come close to signing their targets. In many ways, it was a transfer period worth forgetting and learning from.

With the departure of both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill, Manchester United were always going to lack the edge in the transfer market that they had before, despite of the huge financial backing. The new manager David Moyes is no doubt a good manager and needs no introduction, but when compared to SAF, its obvious that he doesn't have the same command and aura that SAF had on others, both players and managers. At the same time, when we look into the board of Manutd, we no longer have the experience and contacts of David Gill. Although Ed Woodward is a highly respected figure in the financial world, he is no David Gill when it comes to dealing with football players and clubs. His inexperience was clearly reflected in the lackluster performance of Manchester United in the transfer market. With the wayward tactics of under bidding for the Everton pair to the more bold and open pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, Manchester United failed to land both Leighton Baines and Cesc Fabregas. At the end, United had to shell out £27.5 million for Fellaini, £4 million more than what they would have paid for him a few weeks before his signing. Another criticism, United have faced is their failure to land Mesut Ozil, whom they had a chance of signing before Arsenal. However, the other side of the coin portraits a different picture. Some people argue that, Manchester United did not need another No. 10 player to play behind the striker. United already have Wayne Rooney for that role, not to mention the presence of Shinji Kagawa, who had been the best player in that role in Bundesliga. What the club needed was a holding midfield player, who could support the back four and also pass and keep the ball. A player who would be, more like Owen Hargreaves or Paul Scholes.

David Moyes
Rooney stays at Manchester United
Taking the positives from the transfer period, one of the major accomplishments of David Moyes has been that of keeping Wayne Rooney at Manchester United. In a way, its equivalent to signing a new player of his quality, who's departure would have been a big loss to Manchester United both on-field and off it. He was also able to avoid offers for Nani and more importantly Shinji Kagawa. However, the most important and the final act was that of acquiring the services of the Belgian midfielder, Marouane Fellaini. Fellaini is just the type of player Manchester United needed to play at the heart of the field. United have of late become dependent on Michael Carrick too much, and it is evident from the fact that whenever Carrick has a bad game, so does Manchester United. With the introduction of Marouane Fellaini however, United will have the support that they needed in front of the back four and for Michael Carrick. Also, apart from the holding midfield position, Fellaini is also capable of playing both as a striker and behind the striker, providing Moyes with a number of options. So, in a way, it seems that Manchester United did okay for the time being and, should aim to sign another central midfielder and a left-back as cover for Patrice Evra in the January transfer window. Until then, lets hope that Fellaini proves to be a big success at Manchester United.


Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini