Shinji Kagawa was given the No. 10 spot once again last night against Shakhtar Donetsk but it wasn’t until the second half that he really started to grow fully into the game after some David Moyes hairdryer treatment at half time.
Up until then, he wasn’t involved anywhere near as much as he would have wanted nor how much everyone wanted him to be and in that respect, he could have changed that for himself. Service between the midfield and attack was poor which meant Kagawa found himself isolated and starved of the ball a lot of the time. However, he didn’t really seem to want possession enough.
In contrast, Adnan Januzaj was United’s best player in the first half. He had more possession mainly because United were playing down the lines rather than through the middle but also because of his work without the ball that made him stand out in comparison to Kagawa. He was always available for the pass and willing to run 50 yards to get it at times.
There was one occasion in the first half where Januzaj ran into his own half and across the width of the pitch to pick up the ball before driving into the heart of Donetsk’s defence with pace. Kagawa didn’t do that and his work ethic off the ball in putting himself as close to the action as possible was frustrating.
At times, you could see him waiting for the pass but a lot of the time, he simply waited for the action to come to him rather than the other way around.
It was a different story from Kagawa in the second half. He was on the ball far more and created a string of chances as well as almost scoring himself. The personnel hadn’t changed but Kagawa’s approach had.
He played a much deeper role and was on the ball far more often. It benefited him greatly and got the best out of him in the second half. He wanted possession and made the game his.
Although, is Kagawa scared to shoot? I know he is unselfish and simply wants the team to score but there are occasions where a shot is the best thing to do, yet he still passes. He needs to be more greedy and have more shots.
Right now Kagawa, who has won three titles in three years, is getting outperformed by an 18-year-old in his first full season as a professional footballer and there is no reason why Kagawa should not be taking centre stage instead but he needs to start getting involved more directly to make that happen.