Every single Manchester United fan wants Shinji Kagawa to be a roaring success at Old Trafford, that much is obvious.
We want him to be play as much football as possible but to do that, he has to earn it. So far this season, he hasn’t when given the chance.
Last night against Real Sociedad, Kagawa was given another opportunity to impress by David Moyes who chose to start him on the left. On the whole, it was a good performance and there were fleeting moments of brilliance and Moyes will have taken note of that.
He put in a fantastic cross just after the half hour mark which Hernandez couldn’t get on the end of and just after the restart, he controlled the ball like his foot was a pillow before setting up Hernandez who somehow missed an open goal from six yards. On another day. Hernandez would have scored both to give Kagawa two assists but as a whole performance, Kagawa knows he can do even better.
The 24-year-old’s performance dramatically improved when he was moved central for the last minutes but we shouldn’t have to wait for Kagawa to be central to see the best of him.
World class players adapt to the circumstances they are given. Rooney plays best in the middle but can put in top performances on the wings and has done in the past. Kagawa must do the same.
The fact that he often plays out on the left for Japan compounds that argument and nullifies the excuse that Kagawa being put out on the wing is solely responsible for his input. His good performance against Sociedad showed that he can.
Nobody questions that Kagawa’s best position is in the middle but at United, you take what you are given. There’s no chance that Rooney should be dropped for Kagawa and because of it, the Japanese playmaker needs to get used to it and adapt.
He showed glimpses of that against Sociedad but when opportunities are limited, he has to really make a lasting impression to work his way into Moyes’ plans or risks spending too much time on the periphery.
You can’t say that he played himself into a starting spot in the same fashion that Adnan Januzaj has done and you also can’t dismiss the comparison. One may be a care free 18-year-old who had no pressure to perform in comparison to a big money signing but at the same time, Januzaj has now consistently performed every game since being thrown into the limelight.
When you saw the Champions League draw at the start of the year, you looked at this fixture and hoped United would have all but wrapped up qualification so Januzaj may be able to feature – you wouldn’t have looked at the game as a rest for the youngster ahead of a crunch match in the Premier League against Arsenal this Sunday but he has worked himself into that position.
Kagawa can do the same but if he waits to be played centrally to really show what he has got in his locker, then he won’t be able to force his way into United’s team.