This weekend could be one of the most important weekends Shinji Kagawa will ever face because if he doesn’t play any part in the match against Crystal Palace, it’s a huge sign that his Old Trafford future is under threat.
David Moyes is likely to have heard and read plenty of cries for Kagawa to come into the team following the 1-0 defeat away at Liverpool when United were crying out for a creative midfielder to come in and pick the lock to open the Liverpool defence.
It’s confusing why Moyes tried so hard to sign a creative midfielder player during the summer transfer window when he already has a perfectly competent player in the current squad, who can thread balls through to the main attackers.
Marouane Fellaini’s arrival on transfer deadline day has created another midfield player for Kagawa to compete against for a place in the first team.
If we see a combination of Fellaini and Cleverley this weekend, it’s a huge sign of the direction Moyes wants to take the team in and the shape he wants to give the current midfield four or five.
Kagawa has quite rightly spoken of his frustration already this season as he’s been routinely overlooked and not given a chance to show he creative he can be in the middle of United’s side.
“Please ask David Moyes why I'm not in the side - It's hard not playing regularly. Some days the frustration is worse than others; it comes in waves,” he said earlier this week.
The reason this match against Crystal Palace is so important for him is because if Moyes isn’t going to give him a chance in a lower profile game, he stands no chance of being in contention for important Premier League and Champions League matches heading into the winter.
That creates a big risk for United that he’ll get to January and will be forced to seriously consider his future at the club because it would be plainly obvious that he’s not going to be used while Moyes is the manager.
Even if Kagawa gets on the pitch for 20 minutes as a sub this weekend, it’s a chance for him to show how effective he can be.
He just needs a passage of play in his best position, at the top of the midfield where he can demonstrate how lethal he can be in front of an opposition defence, with protection provided by Fellaini and Carrick to compensate for his smaller size.
If he gets that chance then he’s a good enough player to be able to leave a lasting impression on Moyes, leaving him questioning why he didn’t start the season with Kagawa in the first place.
What do you think? Do you see him playing any part this weekend?
image: © Marcel Sigg