Shinji Kagawa’s Manchester United career so far has consisted of fleeting purple patches of form enveloped amongst some invisible performances and a lot of time on the bench.
After his first year, Sir Alex Ferguson felt he was only going to get better and I think he was right as players generally improve when they have settled down at a club but in many ways, the stumbling start to Kagawa’s season this year has been because of the rise of Adnan Januzaj.
When Ferguson signed Kagawa in 2012, Januzaj wasn’t in the picture. He was plying his trade with United’s Under-18s and was nothing more than a kid with a lot of potential. Now, less than 18 months later, he has catapulted himself into United’s first team and has been one of the highlights of the season so far.
Ferguson signed Kagawa with the intention that he would become our main playmaker. Our David Silva, our Mesut Ozil. The graceful player who linked midfield and attack. He certainly has the talent for it but this season, Januzaj has become that player instead alongside Wayne Rooney.
Nobody expected Januzaj to take to first team football so well but he has become one of the first names on the team sheet for a lot of people simply because of how much impact he has on the team and Moyes has shown that he prefers to play Januzaj than Kagawa in his team selections. Rooney has been so prolific in behind the striker that Moyes has been forced to play Kagawa or Januzaj out on the wings, and it has suited Januzaj’s style much more.
Yesterday’s performance against Norwich won’t convince Moyes otherwise about Kagawa as like the whole of Manchester United for the majority of the game, he was uninspired.
After a few weeks on the sideline, the 24-year-old was recalled to the side but struggled to impact a game that really lacked any sort of creativity going forward from United’s point of view. In reality, it wasn’t a surprise to see Kagawa float in and out of the game simply because he hadn’t played in a few weeks as most players find it hard to recapture their form straight away.
It must be frustrating for Kagawa to be so in and out of the side but it is equally frustrating for fans that he hasn’t been able to replicate his Dortmund form at United.
For me, if the squad is fully fit I would now choose to start Januzaj over Kagawa. Time and time again this season, Januzaj has delivered and until Kagawa can somehow find a run of games and form, you get the impression he is going to be playing second fiddle to Januzaj this year.
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