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02 March 2024

Kagawa factor: Man Utd's 'weak' link

Manchester United's Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on September 23, 2012. (AFP)

By Staff

Remember Juan Sebastián Verón?

Every now and then a delightful talent comes a cropper at Old Trafford.

Though Veron did not work for completely different reasons, Shinji Kagawa is looking dicey after five games.

The true test of a player’s physicality in the English Premier league is playing away at Stoke on a rainy Tuesday night.

At this point in time, Shinji Kagawa is a delicate flower that will eaten alive down at the Potteries.

While the Japanese attacking playmaker has shown all he has the skills, he clearly lacks the physical ability to hold the ball up.

Against Liverpool time and again he was hustled off the ball, first by Jonjo Shelvey and then even by the likes of Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard – hardly with a Ryan Shawcross reputation.

Kagawa is clearly the man designated with the job of taking the ball from Michael Carrick and threading it through to Robin Van Persie.

Yet, his first pass has more often than not been with his back to the opponent’s goal, and therefore, straight back to where the ball came from.

Even when given acres of space as against Galatasaray in the Champions League last week, Kagawa has been unable to find the defining Van Persie ball, having him as the final pass on three occasions then, but choosing to go on his own.

Yes, he is new and in the perhaps given the testimonies of Fabio Borini and Olivier Giroud, will need time to find his feet.

If he is unable to stand his ground, stay on his feet and hold off defenders, it does not matter how skillful he is – away at Stoke will be a nightmare, let alone the likes of Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.