Shinji Kagawa had to wait a long time this season before he was given a start in his preferred No. 10 role behind the striker but he got that last night against Bayer Leverkusen, and didn’t disappoint.
Within the first 30 seconds, Kagawa had clipped over a delicate pass to Wayne Rooney that split Leverkusen’s defence which would have set Rooney clean through on goal if he wasn’t offside – but it was a sign of things to come in the game.
The 24-year-old was noticeably more comfortable in every respect. On the ball, he made far more direct runs and was able to be heavily involved in all of United’s forward play, something which really suits his game.
At times, he would drop into his own half to have the ball at his feet but would drive forward with it and make the defenders back pedal. It was really refreshing to see and the fans loved it.
Best performance in Europe. Kagawa excellent looks forward & we attacked with pace. Giggs just incredible but Wayne superb & back four solid
— . (@PatCrerand) November 27, 2013
Too many times from the left wing this season, Kagawa has looked awkward. When he plays there, he slows his pace to almost a walk because he is used to having more options to pass to rather than only being able to look inside for a team mate.
From the middle, he was able to be central to United’s forward play and it brought the best out of him playing just behind Rooney. His performance saw him officially named man of the match by the club and it was richly deserved.
Kagawa won’t get many opportunities in his preferred role but his performance against Leverkusen proved to David Moyes that, even on a very tough away night in Germany, Kagawa can make that position his own.
Ironically enough, it would be appropriate if Kagawa finally found his feet for United in a performance back in Germany.