Shinji Kagawa has expressed his frustration at the lack of playing time he has had to endure in the first month of the season as the Japanese playmaker has played only seven minutes of David Moyes’ first four official games in charge of Manchester United.
Having come off the bench in the closing stages of United’s Community Shield game against Wigan, the former Dortmund is still to make his league debut this season and was left out of the squad that traveled to Anfield 10 days ago, as United stumbled to a 1-0 defeat after a rather unimpressive and insipid performance.
The Japanese international was thought to be poised for a great season as many fans and pundits expected Moyes to deploy Kagawa in his preferred number 10 role, rather than wide on the left where the Japanese was often confined by Sir Alex Ferguson last season, a position which somewhat limits the former Dortmund man’s potential.
Having been rested in the first two games of the season following a grueling schedule which saw him playing for Japan before hopping on a plane to fly back to Manchester, Kagawa’s exclusion from the squad that traveled to Liverpool left many United fans puzzled, particularly considering that the Japanese is one of the few players capable to add creativity to a midfield which, with the exception of Michael Carrick, looks rather pedestrian.
Furthermore, with United failing to significantly strengthen their engine room in the summer, alongside Wayne Rooney, Kagawa is arguably the only player at David Moyes’ disposal who could prove to be an asset when deployed in the hole behind the main striker, something he showed in flashes last season.
Speaking after Japan’s 3-1 win over Ghana, in which he scored, Kagawa spoke about his peripheral role at the club this season.
“Please ask David Moyes why I’m not in the (Manchester United) side,” the United midfielder told press agency AFP.
“It is frustrating not playing but to score a goal like that gives me confidence. Hopefully I can take that back to my club with me and things will improve.
“It’s hard not playing regularly. Some days the frustration is worse than others; it comes in waves.
“So it’s nice to come back to Japan and get to play, and to score felt good.
“I just have to keep working hard and keep pushing for my chance. When I get back it will be a challenge to get into the team.
“When I get back to my club I have to wait for my chance in the Champions League and the Premier League. I’m sure my chance will come.”
United fans are likely to share the same hope, for marginalising a player of Kagawa’s quality would be a rather inexplicable decision by David Moyes, particularly considering the amount of time on the pitch afforded to the likes of Anderson and Ashley Young. Should Kagawa find himself on the bench more often, expect the “#FreeShinji” hashtag set up by Dortmund fans to be trending all year.
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