The time has come for Sir Alex Ferguson to stop using Shinji Kagawa in a left midfield role.
There is no point in playing a quality player like Shinji Kagawa at left midfield, when he has to cut inside and come into a more central position to be anything close to effective.
For some reason Sir Alex Ferguson feels the need to play Kagawa out on the left but he is one of the most creative players in the current side, who could be very effective in a central role next to Michael Carrick.
United have plenty of wide players who could well be playing for their futures ahead of the summer, which means they are going to be more determined to play well and have an impact over the final games of the season.
They will also offer width out on the left, which has been missing and a bit of protection to Patrice Evra who is exposed by Kagawa’s urgency to come inside, leaving space in the position he’s meant to be holding.
Evra’s fitness is superb but he’s not quick enough any more to be able to fly down the left, creating width on that side before having to dart back and hold his position in the back four.
When the side of the team gets exposed, one of the central defenders has to break from position which opens up the space in the middle and even creates extra space out on the right as Rafael has to tuck inside.
Kagawa is at his most effective in a United shirt when he’s allowed to walk onto the ball or pick it up in a central area, spraying it around with a superb variety of passes which can split a defence in two within a couple of seconds.
Some of the Japanese star’s best performances this season may have come when he’s started on the left, but he’s nearly always had to come inside to a central position.
It’s very similar to the way David Silva plays down the right of the Manchester City team, a player who is clearly better in that position which leaves the right side of the team exposed on the counter attack.
Kagawa may be a victim of the quality United have in central positions but the risk of constantly playing him there means United could end up with a very narrow team, which makes them more predictable and easier to contain.
Fortunately for United, they have one of the most exciting wingers in England coming back to the club this summer in Wilfried Zaha, who could hold down a position on the left hand side which would allow Kagawa to move in and literally cause chaos.
Either Kagawa has to move in and United revert to a classic 4-4-2 or he’ll have to learn how to play as a straight up left midfielder, which takes away from his natural positive skills or it will damage that side of the team.
United fans, what do you think?
image: © Marcel Sigg