With United struggling to break opponents down, David Moyes needs to change something – but is the Japan international the answer?
Apart from the opening day 4-1 win over Swansea, David Moyes’ men have struggled to break opponents down and do not look like the same attacking threat as 12 months ago, despite the playing personnel largely remaining the same.
Robin van Persie will score consistently if chances are created for him, but the problem seems to stem from a lack of creativity going forward. An over-reliance on Wayne Rooney’s individual abilities in the number ten role is apparent, while Adnan Januzaj is being heralded as a saviour despite his inexperience.
Nani has been in the team of late, and has showed signs that his final ball has improved, but the Portugal international is not showing the form that made him a key player a couple of seasons ago. As such, somewhere along the attacking line, Shinji Kagawa needs to be introduced.
The Japan international is not as tricky or skilful as Nani or Januzaj, but what he brings is unique in the United squad. Kagawa has outstanding vision and illusive running off the ball that can break down stubborn defences. Rather than crossing the ball aimlessly, United need to have Kagawa link-up with Rooney, feeding off each other.
Kagawa prefers to play in the number ten role, but obviously is unlikely to get an opportunity to do so while Rooney is available. As such, using the Asian star on a flank but giving him the licence to drift in-field and get involved in play seems like the next best alternative.
The fact that Kagawa has not been used this term, even from the bench, is slightly baffling. The former Borussia Dortmund man has had some fitness concerns but now seems rearing to go. The likes of Januzaj, Nani and Ashley Young are all quite similar, whereas Kagawa could well be the wildcard that can stretch defences with his movement and probing throughballs.
At the moment it is clear that United’s attack is not functioning as it should be as a unit, and have had to rely on individualism from Rooney or Januzaj to score goals and win games.
As such someone like Kagawa is needed to freshen things up. Moyes’ continued omission of the Japanese star is a waste of considerable talent and could well rob the side of a more concussive style of attacking play.
image: © Marcel Sigg