Reshaping United



There is a curious aspect to Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford – more than 25 years of evolution and sustained glory – that the great Scot has probably never signed a free-spirited ‘number 10′. The player, in the parlance of modern tactics-speak, who ghosts between the lines; neither midfielder, nor attacker in any distinct sense.

Yet, Manchester United’s much talked about interest in Belgian youngster Eden Hazard, and the more likely acquisition of Shinji Kagawa, appears to mark a distinct break in this tradition.

And Ferguson’s moves this summer, at least if Kagawa’s acquisition is completed, could have widespread ramifications for both United’s tactical shape, style of play and personnel. Indeed, word is that Ferguson wants to return his side to a more expansive, one-touch, fast-paced style that was last seen late summer, 2011, but disappeared post that thrashing by Manchester City at Old Trafford.

While it is unlikely United ever had a genuine shot at securing Hazard’s transfer – money and success talk like little else in football – the Belgian will showcase his wares in England after agreeing a £32 million move to Chelsea. The west Londoners will confirm the deal when the transfer window opens on 1 July, and are set to build a new team around the 21-year-old whomever is manager next season.

So often deployed from the left by Lille Métropole over the past four years, Hazard has flourished this season in a more central role, scoring 20 league goals and providing a further 15 assists. The campaign has catapulted 21-year-old Hazard into the limelight, together with a huge bump in salary and potential super-stardom in England.

Certainly, the fleet-footed forward is one many of the world’s leading players, and Joe Cole, believe is in the next generation of elite performers.

Kagawa, meanwhile, has progressed at Borussia Dortmund since a €350,000 move from Cerezo Osaka in the J-League two summers ago. The Japanese player has become a central part of Dortmund’s tactical make-up during the last two title-winning campaigns – representing remarkable progress from the years spent in J-League division two, where the player spent much of his early career.

Indeed, Kagawa made over 100 appearances in the lower reaches of Japanese football before being transplanted to Europe, and into Dortmund’s first team. Next step Old Trafford, it seems, with Dortmund announcing that a fee of around €22 million, including bonuses, has been agreed between the clubs.

If, and presumably when, Kagawa joins he will surely be deployed in the shadow of a lone-striker, having rarely played in a midfield two during a fledgling European career. Most comfortable deployed between-the-lines of midfield and attack, Kagawa could help rid United of predictability – especially against sides tending to park the bus at Old Trafford.

And while others have played off the front man in Ferguson’s time, few is any have been a specialist in that position. True, Wayne Rooney has been widely deployed deep in the campaign just ended, linking midfield and Danny Welbeck together. Yet, over the last eight years Ferguson has more often deployed the former Evertonian in a straightforward attacking role.

Then, of course, there was Eric Cantona, who was so comfortable playing off Mark Hughes, and then Andy Cole, but was always a striker who loved to roam rather than the trequarista in the grand tradition of Gianni Rivera, Roberto Baggio, and latterly Alessandro Del Piero.

Similarly, Teddy Sherringham, who joined the club after Cantona’s departure, was a forward comfortable dropping deep into midfield.

Then there are those Ferguson has missed out on, including Ronaldinho in 2003, although United’s manager had earmarked the Brazilian for David Beckham’s wide role. Or Mesut Özil – the “ghost” as Ferguson once dubbed the German playmaker – who has excelled in his second season with Real Madrid this year.

United with Kagawa?

Could this be Ferguson's formation in 2012/13?

Into the present and Ferguson seems likely to use Kagawa is the Japanese player’s favoured role between midfield and attack in a 4-2-3-1 system that is a gradual evolution of the formation most regularly used in coming second to City.

With the Japanese in the team, Rooney is more likely to be deployed further forward, with two from Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley playing through central midfield.

Yet, unless Ferguson brings in another, more traditional, midfielder this summer United is still likely to face searching questions through the centre of the park. After all, while Carrick performed admirably in recent months, Scholes turns 38 in November. Meanwhile, Anderson and Cleverley have rarely spent time away from the physio suite in recent years, while Fletcher’s long-term future in the game remains in doubt due to illness.

Kagwa’s arrival also asks questions of United’s forwards, with Rooney seemingly likely to play at ’9′ next season; presumably as the lone front-runner in a flexible four-man attack. That’s bad news for Welbeck, who performed so well last season when fit, and Javier Hernández, the Mexican whose stop-start campaign proved so disappointing.

Indeed, in this sense Kagawa’s likely purchase is as much a replacement for the departing Dimitar Berbatov, as it is for the ageing Scholes.

Interesting, then, that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is determined to replicate the system at Stamford Bridge, with Hazard central in a three-man supporting line to Fernando Torres. Presumably Juan Mata and Marko Marin, or an as-yet -to-be-determined right-sided player, will be deployed off the Spanish forward. Torres may even flourish in Didier Drogba’s absence.

Time will tell whether Ferguson’s first foray into the market for a genuine ‘number 10′ is an experiment worth making. Or, indeed, whether the outlay on the Japanese player turns out to be half the return of Hazard’s huge fee, or double the value – to coin a Fergusonian phrase.

There are fewer questions about the Belgian’s quality though, with Kagawa having spent just two seasons at the highest level of European football. Hazard, by contrast, is now two-times French Player of the Year.

Moreover, Kagawa, while scoring 13 in 31 Bundesliga appearances last season, can also be wasteful in possession, and comes off worst in more than two-thirds of tackles and 50-50s entered into. Worryingly, the 23-year-old also gets substituted more often than he actually remains on the pitch, strongly suggesting a problem with stamina.

The stats only paint one part of the story, of course, but do give an indication of a player who will surely take some time to bed down in English football, with all the physicality that it brings. And if Kagawa takes time to star at United, then Ferguson’s players may also need games to unlock both the new man’s undoubted potential, and a new approach to the game.

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Comments

  1. Could we also actually end up seeing Kagawa instead of playing a wide role? I don’t know how solid are our interest in Hazard was but it certainly appears that we were looking to sign both? Or am I being overly wishful?

    Anyway, the point being could we actually see Kagawa in the David Silva role? Playing off a wide position and drifting into the middle? Certainly allows for Fergie to go two up top, Rooney and Welbeck with Kagawa and Nani/Young/Valencia on the other side with two out and out central midfielders? Having Kagawa drift in would mean we have more bodies in the middle and prevents us getting outnumbered by teams that pack the midfield?

  2. I struggle with this (potential) signing seeing he’d be occupying the space Rooney plays in now – and is at his most devastating. Just feels wasteful with pea and welbeck. Would rather a regista style player maybe modric or something.

  3. Of all the leagues to compete with the PL on physicality, I would have thought the Bundesliga would be it and with skilful players increasingly dominating our league I think it will be easier for him to settle in. I don’t think he’s the most hard-working player, so if he doesn’t start well, I expect plenty of United fans will become disillusioned – especially if he is our only major signing of the window.

    On the upside, if we do convert to this system, we might finally see the best of Anderson, if he’s given a chance in what most assume is his natural role, especially if Kagawa is getting subbed every game (let’s hope that’s not the only thing he has in common with Ozil).

    I don’t think our formation will change though. At best, it will be a more defined 4411 – one of the main reasons Evra gets shown up so often is we don’t have a left winger with the mindset of Valencia, who protects his full back. (The other reason is the obvious lack of a holding midfielder to provide cover, but that’s not changing).

  4. Man U needs a central midfielder. We can’t be talking about replacing Scholes when we haven’t replaced Roy Keane.

    Javi Martinez and Ander Herrera from Bilbao are two incredible young play makers who shouldn’t cost much. If we want to open the checkbook though then Luca Modric is the man

  5. Some of Kagawa’s goals and assists
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bD3Pr3F0B_4#!
    Some of them come from the space inbetween midfield and attack, but others come from the centre circle where he’s in midfield. Dortmund seem to play with one up, but with two proper forwards out wide, so more of a 433 than 451, which we could replicate with Rooney up top and Nani & Valencia on either flank.
    Btw 4.33 is Scholes-esque. He’s deep, plays a simple ball, follows it up for the return, then plays a quick one round the corner to set up a move.

  6. Herbie Simms says:

    SAF is still searching for another midfielder. Kagawa is already a done deal but you are right. SAF needs another midfielder in the mold of Hardgreaves, strong and solid in the middle. What I understand, SAF is busy looking for this kind of player. We are looking at strikers also and a bid could be put in for Papus Cisse. Pardew has said that United were interested in the striker. There is talk about Baines but we need a quality right fullback. And SAF has said that he is going to change our style of play this season. I’m for that 100%.

  7. Dimmexy says:

    This formation is by far the most effective, especially for Champions league football. However we need one hard-tackling midfielder, someone in the make of Cheikh Tiote for example or Alex Song. Then he can play with either Carrick or Scholes as the 2 defensive mids. Then Vidic and Evans would make a perfect defense with Rio providing cover when necessary. Smalling can also deputize for Rafael at Right back.Jones seems to be a better in the middle of the park than at defense. Rooney as the lone striker would also work with Welbeck possibly fighting for one of the wide positions together with Young and Nani( Valencia should always start, he is by far the most reliable of our wingers). Baines would also be a welcome addition but I still rate Evra highly, because of his attacking ability. Modric would be indeed the final piece for this puzzle. He can play behind Rooney or as one of the two holding mids. Therefore, if Fergie could get Modric, Tiote/Martinez and Baines in addition to Kagawa the blue moon will not get the chance to rise.

  8. Herbie Simms says:

    That should be Papiss Cisse. That would be a great signing and he would be a big hit with the United fans. He is more dynamic than Wayne Rooney and so much energy and a great eye for goal. Chelsea have Hazard and the HULK, two dynamic signings but what makes it worse, Guardiola is now in talks with Chelsea owner Abramovich for the manager’s job. This could be one hell of a season.

  9. sidney said:
    Some of Kagawa’s goals and assists

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bD3Pr3F0B_4#!

    Some of them come from the space inbetween midfield and attack, but others come from the centre circle where he’s in midfield. Dortmund seem to play with one up, but with two proper forwards out wide, so more of a 433 than 451, which we could replicate with Rooney up top and Nani & Valencia on either flank.

    Btw 4.33 is Scholes-esque. He’s deep, plays a simple ball, follows it up for the return, then plays a quick one round the corner to set up a move.

    In that video when he passes from the circle, he is still one of the furthest players forward and they are usually counter-attacks. Definitely not a CM. Of course his arrival makes us more flexible in terms of formation, but I don’t think Fergie is going to build his next team around Kagawa and we’re not going to suddenly play Dortmund’s system just because we signed a player from them.

    These formations could all work, but I can’t see us changing. Rooney is ineffective and isolated in a fully fledged 451, 433 uses a holding midfielder (not going to happen with Fergie) and 4231 is the close we’ll get to a change but Fergie likes his wingers to be defensively responsible.

    Its a good signing though as it means we can play our only world class striker as a striker without sacrificing quality/creativity in the midfield.

  10. btw when I say 4411 i’m thinking more of last season with Giggs/Rooney rather than this season with Rooney/Welbeck which was really a 442

  11. Herbie Simms says:

    Your right! We are not going to play Dortmund’s style of football but I can see Kagawa playing behind the striker because Kagawa can also score goals. We could also play a format using one winger. I don’t know if you have seen Equador play, but they play Valencia on the right wing and they do not use a left winger. They play a man in a wide left sided position but he is not being used as a winger. The left fullback plays a dual role as an attacking left full back down the left wing. Valencia plays as the attacking midfielder in a right wing position when playing for Equador the same way Douglas Costa plays for Shakhtar Donetsk. When Equador play, they just look to get the ball to Valencia and their style is very affective. Man Utd will look to play 4312 and games away from home 4411.

  12. Simmsy, you’ve got the inside running on all the transfer business….what’s the deal with Modric?

  13. Simmsy, you’ve got the inside running on all the transfer business….what’s the deal with Modric?.

  14. Cantona??????????? Free sprited

  15. Not convinced. (Haven’t watched Ecuador or Shakhtar play though). Again, not because there is a problem with the tactics, but because of the players at the club. We have 3 of the best ‘true’ wingers in our league and in terms of ability in our team at least two of them deserve to start. If we end up selling Nani, Young could play in the middle but I don’t see it happening. Fergie always talks about our width stretching back 4s and if we’ve had a footballing philosophy under Fergie, one thing that hasn’t changed is having talented wingers in the team.

    Honestly, I’m nitpicking claiming we’ll play 4411 over 4231, it’s just I think that it will look exactly the same (which it essentially is) and calling it 4231 just makes it sound more exciting and ‘European’, whereas I don’t think we’ll see a significant change in our playing style from the 4411 days of ’11.

    Also I think for our ‘attacking’ formation for easy home games we’ll just go 442. Fergie has done a lot of ‘adapting’ in his years at United, but he’s changed our playing style without venturing from 442/451/4411.

    Agree with Kagawa behind the striker in a 4411.

  16. Great article about how Kagawas probable arrival will affect the shape of the side.

    I also can see 4-2-3-1 being implemented but will be gutted for Welbeck and Hernandez, welbeck especially who has had a great season and formed an understanding with Rooney up front.

    Maybe a 4-1-3-2 could be utilised, or even a European style back 3 for the less open and 1 sided games.

    Either way, interesting times for United in 2012/13 and beyond

  17. simpson says:

    we could be playing this formation…41212

    with four defenders ..deep lying playmaker in carrick..2 wide man nani/young/valencia…attacking midfield in KAGAWA… two striker Welbeck/hernandez Rooney…

  18. Gopher Brown says:

    Kagawa would be an interesting signing from a tactical point of view, but not one which would generate a lot of excitement or optimism from the fans. I doubt very much we will get it, but the team needs a big attack-minded signing (like Hazard would have been) to get the fans interested again and to help change the feeling of impending doom which we all secretly (or not so secretly) hide under the surface.

  19. BTW whatever happened to Audi? GM seems a significant downgrade in style and quality, perhaps fitting the Glazernomics pattern?

  20. @simpson, THIS. Although I do think we could do with more of a ball winner, I know carrick is our answer to yaya toure and that he makes more interceptions than most other midfielders do. Depending on fitness where would the cleverly/Anderson duo fit in?

  21. I think Kagawa will be played in midfield, if I remember correctly Anderson was a striker in a similar position and he was put in as a proper midfielder.

    If he is indeed being bought as a striker then I won’t be surprised if it is a move to replace Rooney rather than play with him. Rooney did want to leave last season, and in a similar fashion to Ronaldo, he may leave a year later. This, if it happened would be similar to the Ronaldo transfer which actually came out and hit us out of the blue. Yes, there were rumours of Real but those were 3-4 year old rumours, season after season, by the time Ronaldo left the club. The papers didn’t really have a clue if Ronaldo was actually leaving until it happened.

    Basically I don’t see Kagawa pushing Rooney further forward. As long as Rooney is at the club Kagawa will play in midfield.

    • Yeah dozer, I’m also wondering if a possible Rooney transfer might not explode onto our screens at some point. I don’t think he looked totally committed on the pitch through much of the season, and a similar process to the “tragic loss of Ronaldo” could come to dominate United headlines suddenly. I’m getting flashbacks to the look on Ronaldo’s face and body language just after the final whistle in his last game in a United shirt. You knew he was going. I hope Rooney’s almost nonchalance regularly during the season is a passing mood. But if the real quality isn’t brought in this summer, and it looks like more of the same old shite next season, then what’s stopping him from causing one hell of an explosion?

    • You’re really against the idea of United playing with a lone striker, eh? It’s been done many times in 08/09 and it is the way football is headed, so deal with it rather than concoct ridiculous plans for Rooney to move or for Kagawa to play as a CM (which he is not!).

      Another thing many of you need to consider is that Kagawa is not a must-play player. He’s another option and both Welbeck and Hernandez will get to play but they’re going to need to step up their game.

  22. Been following the discussion closely. I raelly think it is time to change up to a different formation to counter some of the teams that play 433 or a variable formation.
    The 4231 is probably the safest system to use. Alternately a 4141 could also work. This would have Rooney and Kagawa playing in behind Welbeck. 2 wingers and Carrick in DMF.
    This would mean Rooney and Kagawa could play as the second striker and also drop to defend in CM (Rooney does this a lot when he plays in the “hole” now). Also both have the vision to put the wingers thru or Welbeck thru or each other.

    • Carrick is not suited to be a DM, he is what you’d call a deep-lying playmaker. I don’t think the team will be defensively-covered in this line-up (4-1-4-1). 4-2-3-1 is the way to go in tight matches, 4-4-1-1 definitely a good plan B and a good plan A for the easy games.

  23. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Commenter said:
    Simmsy, you’ve got the inside running on all the transfer business….what’s the deal with Modric?.

    Noooo… don’t encourage him… now he’ll just tell you.

  24. Good to see some new names and enthusiastic thinking on the Rant forums! Soon we will have them with mild depression over the state of United due to Glazernomics, talking net spends & listing the players we’ve missed out on in the last few years!! UNITED!

  25. Commenter said:
    Yeah dozer, I’m also wondering if a possible Rooney transfer might not explode onto our screens at some point. I don’t think he looked totally committed on the pitch through much of the season, and a similar process to the “tragic loss of Ronaldo” could come to dominate United headlines suddenly. I’m getting flashbacks to the look on Ronaldo’s face and body language just after the final whistle in his last game in a United shirt. You knew he was going. I hope Rooney’s almost nonchalance regularly during the season is a passing mood. But if the real quality isn’t brought in this summer, and it looks like more of the same old shite next season, then what’s stopping him from causing one hell of an explosion?

    Red Issue were saying ealrier in the year that there’s still a bit of coldness between Rooney and Fergie, due to the almost-transfer and the ban from the Blackburn game following the Boxing Day night out. They were also saying that Stretford’s still mad keen to pave the way to the Bitters (or any other lucratrive deal). If they’re going to cash in, now’s the time with an inflated market and with him supposedly being around his peak age. Can’t see it, personally; but football’s a funny old game…

    • … absolutely mate. Don’t know if he can bring in £80 million, but he must be at his top price now, with, as you say, an inflated market, him at his supposed peak age, and “locked into” a reasonably long term contract. It’ll take big biccies to get him, but if he wants to go, his role model is Ronaldo, and with the unsettling Euros coming, that could also contribute to the volatile mix, a wannabee away Rooney and the tempatation of megapounds for him , could United again be a seller, as in the sad example of the Ronaldo saga?

  26. RedAlert260599 says:

    I know it’s probably rubbish paper talk but if PSG was to wave £120mill at the Glazers for Rooney then they’d take it (they’d probably take a lot less too). Under the PLC I reckon it may have been a good thing. But with the Glazers they’d do the same as they did with the Ronaldo money and United would see no benefit of it.
    If Rooney goes it could be said that they are asset stripping us – which was forcast when the bastds first took over.

  27. marlon said:
    In that video when he passes from the circle, he is still one of the furthest players forward and they are usually counter-attacks. Definitely not a CM. Of course his arrival makes us more flexible in terms of formation, but I don’t think Fergie is going to build his next team around Kagawa and we’re not going to suddenly play Dortmund’s system just because we signed a player from them.
    These formations could all work, but I can’t see us changing. Rooney is ineffective and isolated in a fully fledged 451, 433 uses a holding midfielder (not going to happen with Fergie) and 4231 is the close we’ll get to a change but Fergie likes his wingers to be defensively responsible.
    Its a good signing though as it means we can play our only world class striker as a striker without sacrificing quality/creativity in the midfield.

    He is one of the furthest players forward, aye, but I wouldn’t say he’s in the hole. There is no hole when you have 3 proper forwards. He’s more at the front of midfield – an attacking midfielder role. But I wouldn’t call him an actual proper midfielder until I see him do the boring stuff.
    I didn’t mean we would adopt Dortmund’s formation, but we will use 433 occasionally with 4 proper forwards. Carrick is our ‘defensive’ midfielder, like it or not. Fergie said he wants him to do what Scholes does, and by that he meant pick the ball up off the defence and play it. So he’ll be the deep one.

  28. Newton Heath RED says:

    a negative spin on what i am sure will prove to be a great signing. Hazard is no doubt a top player and was player of the season in league 1 for 2 seasons in a row He also seems to an ego to rival that of Ronaldo’s and it is fair to say he hasn’t earned that just yet. Kagawa on the other hand has just won back to back league titles in a much more competitive league, has won Bundesliga player of the season for this year (correct me if i am wrong there) his failings seem to be that he hasnt paraded himself around in the media flirting with every big club under the sun…. at around half the price and less than half the attitude if i had to pick between the two i know who i would be going for.

    • Newton Heath – negative? can’t say I get that comment at all. He’s a good player, with limitations, that’s got two good seasons behind him (well 1 and a half really, given he was injured for much of last season).

      Two qualifications. He HAS NOT won Bundesliga Player of the Year… that’s announced in late July/early August. He wasn’t the best player at Dortmund, let alone in the league so I can’t seen him winning it.

      Much more competitive? Prove it… Bayern Munich/Borussia Dortmund have won 8 of last 10 Bundesligas. In France there’s been six different winners in that time, even accounting for Lyon’s dominance in the early part of the decade.

      Now if you mean ‘harder’ rather than ‘competitive’ – I’d note that the UEFA coefficient for Germany is basically only better than France because of Bayern Munich’s performances in reaching two Euro Cup finals in recent years. Take Bayern out of the equation and the coefficients are almost identical. Marseille beat Dortmund twice this year before being thumped by Bayern.

  29. I very much doubt they would sell Rooney. SAF would never sell him to another British club and I can’t see him moving to Spain, which is the only other possible option.

  30. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Commenter said:
    This formation is by far the most effective, especially for Champions league football. However we need one hard-tackling midfielder, someone in the make of Cheikh Tiote for example or Alex Song. Then he can play with either Carrick or Scholes as the 2 defensive mids. Then Vidic and Evans would make a perfect defense with Rio providing cover when necessary. Smalling can also deputize for Rafael at Right back.Jones seems to be a better in the middle of the park than at defense. Rooney as the lone striker would also work with Welbeck possibly fighting for one of the wide positions together with Young and Nani( Valencia should always start, he is by far the most reliable of our wingers). Baines would also be a welcome addition but I still rate Evra highly, because of his attacking ability. Modric would be indeed the final piece for this puzzle. He can play behind Rooney or as one of the two holding mids. Therefore, if Fergie could get Modric, Tiote/Martinez and Baines in addition to Kagawa the blue moon will not get the chance to rise.

    Fuck sake… I wish some of you would stop advocating Tiote… he fights for the ball well, but once he’s got it, he’s ordinary at best… he’s at his level with Newcastle.

  31. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    Bill said:
    I very much doubt they would sell Rooney. SAF would never sell him to another British club and I can’t see him moving to Spain, which is the only other possible option.

    I’ve said this several times, irrespective of how much money City or Chelsea flash, Ferguson will never allow him to move to either club. PSG are supposedly in the frame now, which I guess is a possibility with their sudden sovereign wealth, but if neither they, Real or Barça can come to an agreement, then I don’t believe he will be sold under any circumstances.

  32. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Bill said:
    I very much doubt they would sell Rooney. SAF would never sell him to another British club and I can’t see him moving to Spain, which is the only other possible option.

    Ferguson is just a lackey now… he’ll do what he’s told.

  33. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Spudiator said:
    I’ve said this several times, irrespective of how much money City or Chelsea flash, Ferguson will never allow him to move to either club. PSG are supposedly in the frame now, which I guess is a possibility with their sudden sovereign wealth, but if neither they, Real or Barça can come to an agreement, then I don’t believe he will be sold under any circumstances.

    Rooney won’t leave England… his Missus is too close to her family…

  34. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Ferguson is just a lackey now… he’ll do what he’s told.

    I disagree, Fergie may have become an unfortunate poster-boy for the Glazers in recent years, but if there’s one thing you cannot deny about him, it’s that he’s as stubborn as a mule, and if there was ever so much as a suggestion that any player was gonna be sold under his nose without his say-so, I honestly believe he would just walk away right there and then.

  35. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    It’s not just about taking orders… the Glazers play Ferguson like a fiddle.

  36. fletcher genius Darren football

  37. Newton Heath RED says:

    @ed… i did say mention correct me if i am wrong on the player of the season my information was from here http://bundesligafootball.co.uk/shinji-kagawa-player-of-the-year/ obviously not an official award…my bad.

    My point is; “There are fewer questions about the Belgian’s quality though, with Kagawa having spent just two seasons at the highest level of European football. Hazard, by contrast, is now two-times French Player of the Year” – are there really fewer questions about the quality? It seems to me that Hazard has done a much better job of marketing himself and creating huge spin. (Kagawa can)”be wasteful in possession, and comes off worst in more than two-thirds of tackles and 50-50s entered into. Worryingly, the 23-year-old also gets substituted more often than he actually remains on the pitch, strongly suggesting a problem with stamina.”
    -i wouldnt mind seeing the stats on Hazard’s tackling.

    I still firmly believe that the Bundesliga is stronger than league 1 it has strong teams throughout the league, it also has alot more high pressure games than the french league with packed stadiums throughout the country. Ligue 1 ave att = 18.874 Bundesliga ave att = 45,726. surely that can’t count for nothing?

    I just wonder why you would choose in this article to talk up a player we have lost out on whilst being quick to point out the negatives (statistics dont tell the whole story btw) on a player we look likely to sign.

    Now i know from listening to the podcasts that you are undoubtedly come up with a good case for your side of the argument here but one thing that no one could argue with is the fact that you are a cup half empty kind of fan/blogger.

    • Newton Heath RED – why start making this personal? I’m not being cup half empty. Having seen both players quite a bit it’s my OPINION that Hazard is a better player. Of the two he’s the one most likely to join the highest elite of players

      I’ll be hugely surprised – and delighted – if Kagawa makes a big step up at United (if he joins). But I’m not sure that the raw ingredients are there, and it will take some tactical adjustment.

      Kagawa has played less than 50 games in the Budesliga yet he’s being talked up as some kind of world beater. Before that he was playing in J2. That’s about as good as League One.

      • Newton Heath RED says:

        I certainly didnt want to make anything personal… i wasn’t starting with the mum jokes or anything.

        I am sure that J2 is probably way below league 1 in terms of quality. He is being talked as some kind of world beater as is Hazard, i think this talk is a little premature for both players, let’s see how they get on next season. Out of the two i think we have got the right player for United

  38. Newton Heath RED says:

    undoubtedly *going to

  39. Well Hazard will probably be a better player than Kagawa. Then again, Hazard will almost definitely move to Barca or Real in a few seasons (which in the only reason why the Glazers might genuinely have paid for him, hoping to repeat the Ronaldo jackpot). Kagawa seems to think United’s the pinnacle though, so it’s nice to have a quality player excited to play for us. Been a while since I’ve seen that. Dortmund have played some of the best football on the continent the past two seasons, and Kagawa’s been a big part of that. Definitely if he was English the hype would be unbelievable.

    The player who might actually be better than Hazard is Marco Reus, who not coincidentally Dortmund have signed to replace Kagawa.

  40. Commenter said:
    Your right! We are not going to play Dortmund’s style of football but I can see Kagawa playing behind the striker because Kagawa can also score goals. We could also play a format using one winger. I don’t know if you have seen Equador play, but they play Valencia on the right wing and they do not use a left winger. They play a man in a wide left sided position but he is not being used as a winger. The left fullback plays a dual role as an attacking left full back down the left wing.

    That’s exactly what we already do, and it’s shite and predictable.

  41. J M Willams says:

    Your comments that Kagawa ‘Can also be wasteful in possession’ and comes off worst in more than two-thirds of tackles and 50-50s entered into’. Should be put into the context that playing as a trequarista a greater percentage of his passes are predominately risky final passes into the forward, rather than the safer passes a regista like Scholes is likely to play, This type of pass has a greater likelihood to be intercepted, Thus contributing to his comparatively poor passing stats. His position also dictates that his closest opponents are the centre backs and defensive midfield players of the opposition, meaning the number of 50/50 challenges and tackles he enters into a game are against primarily defensively minded players who’s role it is to excel in these defensive duties and who’s are stats are always higher in this regard. Look at David Silva’s, Nasri’s or Rosicky’s stats in comparison with Kagawa’s they are comparable in terms of position and role within there respective team.

    • JM Williams – Sure, but this is the issue…. Kagawa is going to play one position and one position only or he’ll become ineffective… much like Anderson has become being asked to play as a holding midfielder for the past five years. So bringing Kagawa into the team – if/when it happens – is going to change the way United play, and it’s not going to solve a really big problem and that’s central midfield.

      Oh and the whole ‘risky passing brings the stats down’ argument is nonsense. Same one people used about Anderson, who still throws away possession 20-25% of the time. Kagawa’s pass completion is low 80s. Top quality players don’t do that – ask Andreas Iniesta who is consistently at 90% while playing most of his passes in the last third.

      Just so we’re clear before anybody jumps down my throat – I’m not having a go at Kagawa – but he has limitations. Good player, but I’m not convinced he’s ‘world-class’ to use a cliché

      • JM Williams says:

        Iniesta is a good comparison interns of the role they play within there respective teams. Both look to exploit space between the lines, the difference is Barcelona play a shorter passing game with a lot of close support this gives Iniesta a large amount of passing options if you include the fact that Barca press high and tend to operate with an extremely high defensive line which places the players in a smaller area this reduces the passing distance between players and also results in more frequent passes high up the pitch. Dani Alves nominally Barca’s right fullback ranks higher than the majority of midfielders and attackers interns of touches and passes made in the opposition half in La Liga and the Champions League. We all know that Barca out pass there opponents by a large percentage and there players tend to rank highly in number of passes and pass completion.

        Dortmund play a game based around quick transition’s from defence to attack, they press like Barca but do not play with the same patience, they play a more vertical game with the ball moving from the defensive third to the attacking third very quickly. Kagawa tends to receive the ball in the space between the oppositions defence and midfield he then either dribbles and attacks the defence looking for a pass into forward (Lewandowski) who holds the ball up well and brings others into play or he rapidly feeds the ball into the wide players (Gotze,Kuba,Grosskreutz) who runs tend to be diagonal in the space behind the fullbacks. Dortmund’s play is typified by the endless running off the ball into space they look to stretch team’s quickly, attacking them when they are not set positionally.

        While Barca probe and look for the chink in the armour, Dortmund tend to go for the jugular. Iniesta tends to have more time and safer options which means his passing stats are superior, he is also without a shadow of a doubt a better player than Kagawa.

        Finally using Anderson as an example to dispute the idea that ‘risky passing brings the stats down’ to me does not wash Anderson has predominately been played as part of a midfield two and tends to play much deeper positionally than a player like Kagawa. Anderson plays a lot of unnecessarily risky passes from deep, with sometimes two lines of opposition players between himself and his intended target, rather than the simple ball. Kagawa is more likely to be making the final ball, whilst operating in a tighter area and under greater pressure than Anderson who plays in a position from which he has lot more space to see and pass into. I personally believe that Kagawa can perform a role similar to that of David Silva’s at City, operating tucked in from out wide left looking to exploit the space in front of the defence. David Silva’s passing completions over 2011-12 was about 84% and was considered to be the best player in that position of the Premier League.

        I enjoyed your article and only wanted to play a little devils advocate. I understand your misgivings about Kagawa within the system united currently play he does not appear to be and ideal fit, his purchase results in many questions about the positional and tactical pattern that United will play next season. I agree with you that he is not the answer we need in terms of a central midfielder, his skill set is not suited to this. But he presents Fergie with a new type of attacking option and may represent the beginning of a slight evolution in United’s playing philosophy.

        • Well I guess that’s my point isn’t it. “Iniesta is a far better player” you say. Well yes he is. A FAR better player. I like watching Kagawa, I think the fans will enjoy him. But he’s also a little frustrating, and pretty inexperienced still. IMHO we’re buying just below the best because, I suspect, that’s all the business model will allow.

          Will that bridge the gap to City, Chelsea (who are buying big), Real and Barcelona, Bayern and the rest?

          • JM Williams says:

            The reality is that we are operating with massive financial restrictions. In my opinion we have never operated at the Best end of the market even at the peak of United’s transfer spending power we invested wisely in Talent that was on the cusp developmentally and need the rough edges knocking off.

            United were never able to entice a Zidane, Ronaldinho or maybe we chose not to, what we did was buy Rio from Leeds after his performance in WC 2002 and paid a premium to a perceived rival for a talent that was very much unfinished. Ronnie came in 2003 after a great performance in the friendly against us and at the Toulon U20 cup, Rooney after Euro 2004. Hazard for me represents the peak in terms of European talent and maybe previously we could have got him, unfortunately our rivals have learned from us commercially and exploited there global potential and increased there revenue and spending ability (Bayern, Madrid) or they have benefited from investors with deep pockets who distort the market. United’s business model is run on profit maximisation at minimal cost, whilst servicing a growing amount of debt. The profits we make are in the main filtered out of the club to service debt or taken by the Glazers as dividend and not reinvested. Until the glorious day when the Glazer family decide to extricate themselves and United from the financial hand cuffs we operate with by selling the club Fergie will do most of his transfer business in the talent bargain bin section of the transfer market.

  42. DamnedUnited says:

    Singing praises of Eden ‘Lord of Hookers’ Hazard here? Jeez, seems like people are forgetting the ego saga around Ronaldo too easily. See how that turned out?

    Just because Kagawa is Asian and has a slight build does not mean he’ll get bullied around. By the same reasoning, the Lord of Hookers is like a petite French prostitute in terms of build.

    This is probably the ‘best-looking’ signing we’ve made in years. Valencia and Hernandez were not well known when bought, but Kagawa looks the part. I just hope he is utilised well by Fergie.

  43. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    This issue of using players out of position is the result of having a team with a gaping hole in it…
    We haven’t had a solid midfield for years, and Ferguson has tried endless combinations to try and bodge us through games, and even seasons.
    Only Ferguson and his employers know why we haven’t been able to PROPERLY build a quality midfield, and even this Japanese lad, no matter how good he might be, won’t fix the real problem… he’ll just give Ferguson another option to fuck about with.
    We need to fill out our midfield with some talented aggression… some will have you believe that Carrick will do… and I’ll admit that he’s got his uses, but he just doesn’t put anyone in their place… and when you come up against the likes of Gerrard, Toure, Essien… you need someone to stand up and say, this is “MY YARD”… Fletcher was game, and not afraid of anyone… but he just isn’t good enough.
    We haven’t had a class midfield tyrant since Keane ran the show… and as it goes… those days were the last we had a team that Ferguson didn’t have to constantly screw around with.
    The problem is money… midfield terriers, like Tiote, Hargreaves and Fletcher are a dime a dozen… and there are plenty of skillful midfielders as well… but tough tackling midfield bosses, who are ALSO excellent with the ball are very rare… and are the most in demand players out there… Toure, Gerrard, Essien, De Rossi… if we get a player of that calibre… Ferguson can finally put out a fixed midfield.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  44. Spudiator Spudiator says:

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    This issue of using players out of position is the result of having a team with a gaping hole in it…

    We haven’t had a solid midfield for years, and Ferguson has tried endless combinations to try and bodge us through games, and even seasons.

    Only Ferguson and his employers know why we haven’t been able to PROPERLY build a quality midfield, and even this Japanese lad, no matter how good he might be, won’t fix the real problem… he’ll just give Ferguson another option to fuck about with.

    We need to fill out our midfield with some talented aggression… some will have you believe that Carrick will do… and I’ll admit that he’s got his uses, but he just doesn’t put anyone in their place… and when you come up against the likes of Gerrard, Toure, Essien… you need someone to stand up and say, this is “MY YARD”… Fletcher was game, and not afraid of anyone… but he just isn’t good enough.

    We haven’t had a class midfield tyrant since Keane ran the show… and as it goes… those days were the last we had a team that Ferguson didn’t have to constantly screw around with.

    The problem is money… midfield terriers, like Tiote, Hargreaves and Fletcher are a dime a dozen… and there are plenty of skillful midfielders as well… but tough tackling midfield bosses, who are ALSO excellent with the ball are very rare… and are the most in demand players out there… Toure, Gerrard, Essien, De Rossi… if we get a player of that calibre… Ferguson can finally put out a fixed midfield.

    Once again though it comes back to the appalling quality of our physio team. Owen Hargreaves could’ve been that very player we needed if he hadn’t been such a crock, and you have to wonder if it was our physios who made him such a crock, how else could he have passed a medical in the first place? Baggio365 mentioned it in the other thread too, given the overwhelming extent of our injury list in recent years, they’re evidently doing something very wrong.

  45. I don’t get how people defend Anderson. “asked to play as a holding midfielder”. What the fuck else can he do? There’s this fucking myth of him being some wonderful attacking creative player, but his shooting is beyond parody and he certainly doesn’t stand out for his ability to unlock defences with cunning final balls. Based on their performances in the red shirt, I can confidently say that Ji Sung Park is a superior footballer to Anderson in every respect, just to put things in perspective. He’s a fucking lemon, and the myth of him being some wonderful underused attacking force should remind us all never to take the latest Brazilian wunderkind seriously until he’s played some decent football outside of Brazil, because as far as I can tell that country’s main export these days is misleading Youtube compilations.

  46. He came from Porto didn’t he?

  47. Played for Brazil in the Copa America in 2007, 2 season at Porto, he won the Golden Ball at the 2005 U17 world cup.

  48. simpson says:

    hey ed its surprise that we still not sign kagawa yet people start criticizing player who has not signed….1 more thing that let kagawa come let him settle then judge him what he can do or he can’t..if he became our player then u can criticizing player to give away this or that…don’t compare hazard & kagawa..hazard is european he play so many game at lille on the other hand kagawa came from japan settle in germany..then now everybody knows him what he can do…….just wait….please dont compare a.iniesta & kagawa both different player..kagawa is learning on iniesta is master..

  49. 19 and Counting says:

    marlon said:
    Played for Brazil in the Copa America in 2007, 2 season at Porto, he won the Golden Ball at the 2005 U17 world cup.

    From the Golden Ball to the Golden Arches – what has happened to Anderson?

  50. As good as Kagawa may be, I’m not sure he’s quite the player we need in midfield. What we need is a ball winning holding midfielder. You could argue that Carrick sort of does this job but he’s not really what we need either – at least in terms of a ball winner. Any midfield additions you have to see in the context of what we have already and whom the newcomer(s) will replace.

    I am aghast at the idea that Kagawa’s arrival would mean Rooney playing upfront alone. This last season saw Rooney consistenly in his best position, playing off a speciailist striker – the best option for the latter being Welbeck. Rooney’s worst and least effective position is that of sole striker. His partnership with Welbeck was really begining to flourish towards the end of last season so why disrupt that?

    Slotting Kagawa in to best effect without disrupting the better aspects of the team might be easier said than done.

    • Julian – it’s a good point about Rooney and I share those concerns. I suspect Sir Alex wants options though, especially if Hernandez doesn’t develop, or Welbeck can’t find a way to get 25 goals a season rather than 12.

      Either that or Rooney’s off in the summer….

      • Actually I think Welbeck will be retained upfront with Rooney and Kagawa linking up behind – assuming the latter arrives. Hernandez will be back up for Welbeck. That leaves Carrick in the holding role if two wingers are played which Fergie seems fixed on. The worry is that Carrick is not really a defensive midfielder and when we are under pressure against good sides – not only away but also now at home too – they seem to be able to get at our back four far too easily. I’d still like to see a ball winner who can control things in front of the back four brought in. God knows who, mind. If such a player arrives then Carrick might be the one to give way. We need to be able to make things very tight in the middle when we need to. Something which has been missing for a few seasons now.

  51. Since Ferguson has ruled out a move for a holding midfielder and also announced Michael Carrick who is 31 as the successor to Scholes, we can expect a total of 0 actual midfielders arriving in the summer. It is a shame because now we are set for another European campaign of humiliation and teams will be coming to Old Trafford with relish even more than last season.

    The only glimmer of hope appears to be the little window between now and the Euro final because after that Fergie will simply state that values skyrocket after international competitions. Gill will also be putting on a huge grin which is even more disgusting than Fergie’s lies.

  52. simpson says:

    kagawa is cheap option to sneijder .he is not sneijder or iniesta.i would like to have ozil or sahin but both not available so ..we all want what big name signing that we craving since ronaldo left…we can’t compete with those so called big spenders we are not big spenders in transfer fees or paying ridiculous but amazing wages…we have to find something cheap both with transfer fees and with wages…if big name player wants to only play for the manchester united then its really good but nowadays those kind of players are very very rare…kagawa wants to play for our club..his wages under 100k …not 150k…

  53. 19 and counting says:

    Looking for cheaper alternatives, talk of selling our best players, can’t compete with bigger clubs. WTF has happened to our club? Fuck the glazers I want to go back to the good old days when these fuckers weren’t around and we could spend 30m if the right player came along. We just look pathetic now.

  54. Welbeck and Hernandez are not good enough to have Rooney play so deep. Rooney might be better as a no. 10 but we still need him as a no. 9. Also the 4141 is designed with 3 CMs (one holding), not one CM and two attacking midfielders. It wouldn’t work with Carrick or any other player. Kag and Roo would have to come too deep and that would nullify their threat.

  55. Ed said:
    JM Williams – Sure, but this is the issue…. Kagawa is going to play one position and one position only or he’ll become ineffective… much like Anderson has become being asked to play as a holding midfielder for the past five years. So bringing Kagawa into the team – if/when it happens – is going to change the way United play, and it’s not going to solve a really big problem and that’s central midfield.

    Oh and the whole ‘risky passing brings the stats down’ argument is nonsense. Same one people used about Anderson, who still throws away possession 20-25% of the time. Kagawa’s pass completion is low 80s. Top quality players don’t do that – ask Andreas Iniesta who is consistently at 90% while playing most of his passes in the last third.

    Just so we’re clear before anybody jumps down my throat – I’m not having a go at Kagawa – but he has limitations. Good player, but I’m not convinced he’s ‘world-class’ to use a cliché

    Silly comparison Iniesta is one of the best players in the world and a player of that quality is not available at any price. He plays in a league where players are put under less pressure and have a chance to play passes easier. Why not compare Kagawa to the original subject piece Eden Hazard whose pass completion is 81.

    I watch a good bit of French football and seen plenty of Hazard, he has obvious ability but honestly he can be incredibly frustrating. The highlight reels look great but he wastefulness would drive you absolutely mad.

    I think £32 million is at least 5-10 million too much.

    I have strong doubts over the strength off that league and Nene at PSG probably should have won player of the year in France this year yet he wouldn’t go for half of £32 million.

    • Actually, Squiggs, the subject of the piece was United’s shape and system. Perhaps you forgot that? I know it’s got away a bit because people can’t stand the thought that I might offer some mitigation about a player United buy. Shock. Horror. You want unmitigated positivity, head over to ManUtd.com.

      This was not a comparative piece, because if it was you’d see 1,000 words comparing Kagawa and Hazard. It was a piece looking at why Ferguson has never bought this kind of player before, and why it might be interesting if he does. And asking the perfectly relevant question of whether he’s got the right guy or not?

      But if you really want to compare, what’s the problem comparing a player United might buy to the very best? I mean, I thought we had 600m fans or some bollocks like that and the third biggest revenue on the planet. Shouldn’t United have the best? Or are you following the ‘we don’t buy the best, we make them’ shite?

      But the real corker… ‘Players rarely put under pressure in Spain.’ What a crock of shit. Perhaps you didn’t see Barca play over the last four years? Or Bilbao? Or Madrid? Of Valencia who also press. Or a bunch of other teams? Or perhaps you didn’t see Iniesta trying to play passes through defences interested in doing nothing but park the bus?

      My point stands just fine. Kagawa’s a good player who falls short of the very best. Hazard has some skills that will be really dangerous and productive and that’s why the price is high. They’re not the same type of player at all. But if I was betting on it I think Hazard’s the much better bet to perform for Chelsea over Kagawa for UNited.

  56. Yes let’s suggest that we should be signing the best. We have all been aware about United’s buying power for years. Obviously the supporter stats are utterly bogus and they are no more then 5-10% of that figure. So what?

    Iniesta is quite obviously not available and at no stage were United signing players of that quality.

    But never mind unmitigated positivity, I thought we used to slag players off once they were shown to be useless. We have not even agreed a deal for this one and the predictable moan comes up on here. Hazard is 21 years old, if he doesn’t fit in ala Berbatov or Veron people will moan. He is under massive pressure and is looking for top dollar wages and an agent who is getting a £6 million agent fee which is double the biggest agent fee ever paid for a single transfer in the premier league. It’s more then double the agent fees paid to Nasri which pulled us away from signing him and more then the obviously corrupt Bebe deal. The deal has come down to money, and a lot of clubs including City have swung away from the deal. Your paying world class money for a player who is not there yet.

    You are upset that we are buying a player who has proven himself in a top league for two seasons. It’s no different from the likes of Phil Jones or Chris Smalling. Kagawa’s performances in those two years have been beyond everyone’s expectations and that’s why he looks a top signing. This isn’t a purchase for a commercial deal but United taking advantage of a player coming off contract next season and getting that player at a knockdown price.

    You use a pass completion ratio to knock Kagawa, I did the obvious thing and mention that Hazards pass ratio is no better then Kagawa. Why are we not in for Joe Allen or Leon Brittan using pass ratios to identify transfer targets.

    Kagawa is one of the most exciting players in the Bundesliga and I am delighted that he will be lining up for us next season. I obviously hope that he is not the only signing this summer but he is a really good start.

    • Squigs – seriously take the words that you’re putting in my mouth and shove them. Firmly. I’m not upset at all, but I think it’s fair to ask the question about Kagawa. He’s not out of the top drawer (yet, if ever) and anybody who has seen him play will know that. Lots of inexperienced potential. That’s fine but it isn’t going to solve many problems and it isn’t going to stop Fergie heading off the reservation next time United play City.

      I don’t get your problem with questioning Kagawa’s quality at all. In my article I state he can be wasteful, has a stamina problem, and loses out in challenges and 50/50s. He is, he has, he does. It’s not “slagging him off”, it’s an observation grounded in fact. What a pathetically childish accusation though, seriously. I hope he’s a HUGE success, but there aren’t any guarantees with this signing. Just as there weren’t – and still aren’t – with Smalling and Jones.

      Oh, and finally, point to the passage where I claim United should have bought Hazard, let alone pay a £6m agent fee? Yeah, right. Now go shove it again.

  57. 19 and Counting says:

    Well looks like we’ll be selling Nani soon…and likely won’t replace him either.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/jun/02/nani-manchester-united-contract

  58. I responded to the article and I was responding to your previous post. Where did you say we should have bought Hazard?
    My point stands just fine. Kagawa’s a good player who falls short of the very best. Hazard has some skills that will be really dangerous and productive and that’s why the price is high. They’re not the same type of player at all. But if I was betting on it I think Hazard’s the much better bet to perform for Chelsea over Kagawa for UNited.
    Btw, I don’t buy this inexperienced potential, it’s a very patronising view of a top league. Kagawa has won two league titles in a very good young Dortmund side and someone who has 30+ caps for his country. He is not exactly going to pass as a youth player. He lacks stamina and loses out in challanges just like other attacking midfielders we have targeted such as Van De Vaart and Ozil. It’s another technical player can be bullied off the ball shocker.
    I pointed out some of the stumbling blocks to a Hazard deal where if we signed him you would surely give out to United for wasting money.
    I feel to all signings there is too much weight attached to the negatives. He is not perfect but his strengths such as his creativity and his dribbling represent a huge improvement to a really workman like United side.

    • squigs – “I pointed out some of the stumbling blocks to a Hazard deal where if we signed him you would surely give out to United for wasting money.”

      There you go again presuming to know what I’m thinking and attempting to put words in my mouth. Here’s some advice – just fucking stop, ok? It makes your argument look a bit silly if you have to desperately presume what I might say in a hypothetical scenario. There’s a reason I write my stuff down – there’s no ambiguity about it. But let’s avoid some doubt again because I’m struggling to get through to you – 3 months ago on the podcast I said there was absolutely no chance of United signing Hazard. Unequivocal, unambiguous, and based on some very good information. He’s a fantastic player, but there wasn’t a hope of United signing him. So at no point was I about to start giving “out to United for wasting money”. (I don’t think Hazard will turn out to be a waste of money at £32m btw)

      As for the rest of it… yep Kagawa’s a good player. Don’t know how many times I need to repeat that for you to hear it? In this article, on the pod, on Twitter, and in three previous articles on this site, including one a year ago where I reviewed Kagawa and noted him as a potential United signing:

      Dortmund’s other attacking midfielder has grown into the role following the move to Germany last summer. The Japanese international, who has scored eight goals in 18 Bundesliga appearances this season, has impressed with running from midfield, pace and an ability to beat his man. Kagawa’s rise this season is all the more remarkable for being left out of Japan’s World Cup squad last summer. Dortmund may be an unlikely seller but the chance to make a large profit by ‘flipping’ the 22-year-old may still be attractive.

      But he has less than 50 games in the Bundesliga after more than 100 at Japanese League 2 level. Patronising… yeah when it comes to J2, yes I am. Very. Because it’s utter shite. Two title winning sides, but only core to the side this season. Inexperienced – yes he is. Very. But again, what is that other than a factual observation. Just like with possession, stamina, tackles etc.

      But look this is simple if you can’t stand me ‘saying it as it is’ including the good and bad then why read? You must be used to it by now after 7 years?! I’m not forcing you to. If you want positivity ManUtd.com is there for you. Or perhaps you can join the GGMU crowd over at the Facebook page. But whatever you do, just stop trying to put words in my mouth. It’s fucking me off.

  59. That was a good post.

  60. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    if this new ‘reshaped’ utd only involves one new signing it still isn’t very good

    • knob – how dare you say that. You’re just being negative. You’re slagging off Fergie again aren’t you. It’s always negative on this site. True, proper, real, United fans wouldn’t date say that. You’re just a United hater. GGMU.

  61. On Kagawa and Dortmund, I’ve read in multiple places that the system they play is the reason they were able to so easily replace a player like Sahin this season, as well as the likes of Gotze when he was injured. It highlights strengths and hides weaknesses in a way that our system absolutely does not. As long as Kagawa has the protection of a midfield two behind him, I think he’ll be a quality signing. If Fergie tries to change him, he’ll be a giant flop.

  62. Your not upset but you resort to snarky sarcasm and cheap insults every two lines. But look neither of us are going to change each others opinions here. It’s my final post on the subject

    Kagawa has played 49 games at the top level (So less then 50) and yes his importance has been reflected this season were he has played more then 30 games. If he is core to a top side winning a league title then just how is he inexperienced? Add to that 30 caps for his country. I don’t know what goes for experienced these days. We have spent similar money on Ronaldo who had half as many appearances. Kagawa is not Ronaldo but it’s a really positive signing in my opinion.

    Obviously no one player is going to fix United, I would say the team requires about 4-5 players at least to beat the best in Europe.

    I’ll will also say it now Hazard at 32 million and 200k a week is going to be a shocking waste of money. Unless Chelsea make suddenly turn into an attacking team Hazard will not fit in and is no better then what Chelsea have already have in Mata. At the end of the year if Hazard is player of the year and Chelsea are league champions I’ll eat humble pie. But they have massively overachieved this season and buying him and Hulk possibly for really silly money won’t fix Chelsea.

    • squigs – So Chelsea champions and Hazard player of the year is the only definition of that deal not being a “shocking waste of money” is it? What a riddiculous statement. United spent the same on Smalling and Jones… was that a shocking waste of money too? Neither won player of the year. United didn’t win a thing. Though you were praising those deals earlier.

      I’d say any side with Hazard, Mata, Torres, Marin, and Hulk in it will be attacking. It’s patently obvious that’s what Abramovich wants or Di Matteo would have a job by now. It’s also patently obvious that Mata will play left and Hazard central, so that’s just a “silly comparison” – your words not mine. Hazard won’t be replacing Mata so what’s your point?

      Finally… point out the “cheap insults every two lines” – make that kind of accusation and you’d better have some evidence to hand.

  63. It’s so funny, I occasionally peruse other forums like Red Cafe and Football 365 and the United fans on there give websites like United Rant (and particularly Ed) a lot of shit for being far too negative and being too spoilt. There’s a perception from them that Ed and Ranters think United have some divine right to win things. One person on Football 365 called the Rant Twitter page “rabid”.

    They don’t like Red Issue (which I’ve never really read) either for similar reasons.

    “Top Reds” they call Ed and whoever make up Red Issue.

    At least what you get on here is a searing honesty about the club, not some apologetic happy-clappy crap that everything is hunky dory, that the likes of Rafael and Park are going to transform into the second coming of Christ, that the Glazers are not bad owners and that it’s actually OK to invest in third-rate players because “in Fergie we trust”.

    There were idiotic United fans on Football 365 actively wanting Chelsea to win the Champions League. I’d love to have known how they reacted when they landed Hazard.

    • sheesh – ha! Yeah, one muppet wrote that after I said on the pod “United have no devine right to win”. What can I say, some people don’t have a lot between the ears.

      United and Ferguson is a cult. Any hint at mere criticism or even not total positivity is “negativity” and seen as an “attack” or “slagging Fergie off” or “Fergie bashing”.

      I’m with David Simon, creator of the Wire. You know what he said when told the ‘average viewer’ didn’t like/get or agree with his programmes:

      “Fuck the average viewer”

  64. I’ll say for the record that is a fantastic site which encourages debate. A lot of the so called negativity around the clubs owners and finances I share. I only disagree on this one issue and have ample opportunity to make my view.

    • squigs – always been the way. I don’t care if people disagree with my view or want to put it in a forthright manner. I give as good as I get and don’t take it personally.

  65. squigs said:
    I’ll say for the record that is a fantastic site which encourages debate. A lot of the so called negativity around the clubs owners and finances I share. I only disagree on this one issue and have ample opportunity to make my view.

    Oh yeah, I’m not having a dig at you or anything. I was just making a general point based on that comment I saw on Football 365 and some of the rubbish I’ve seen on Red Cafe. I don’t know why I even read Red Cafe.

  66. Well he is two time player of the year in France and in your opinion value at £32 million he would want to be very special. Mata’s best performances have been through the middle.
    Ok, I honestly think Kagawa will have more impact in England then Hazard, that’s a fairly bold statement you will probably agree and you can hold me to it.
    Edit: no point to prolong any arguing between both of us, I’m off for a few days.

  67. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    “Ok, I honestly think Kagawa will have more impact in England then Hazard, that’s a fairly bold statement you will probably agree and you can hold me to it.”

    That is a bold statement, because it assumes too many things… if Kagawa is our only midfield signing, I reckon he’ll struggle… to even see much of the ball.

    Hazard is joining Abramovics’ new project, and I can see the Cossack spending a few more quid yet…

    Hazard in a strong team?…

    Or Kagawa in our faltering team?.

    I know which one I expect to excel.

  68. DamnedUnited says:

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but wasn’t Torres supposed to burn it up at Chelsea? See how that turned out? All this talk of Hazard being an ace at Chelsea is pure bullshit, and it will be proved none more so than Mr. Lord of Hookers’ attitude itself this coming season.

    Nasri was supposed to be another world beater? How’d that turn out for him? The City side will never be built around him, whereas at Arsenal it potentially could have been.

    Character plays just as important a part in winning a title as does skill. And skill doesn’t mean showboating aimlessly (I’m looking at the Lord of Hookers again here).

    Please just stop bigging up Hazard because performing in the French league means squat compared to performing in Spain, England, Germany or Italy (theis last season).

  69. 19 and Counting says:

    Commenter said:
    Carrick is not suited to be a DM, he is what you’d call a deep-lying playmaker. I don’t think the team will be defensively-covered in this line-up (4-1-4-1). 4-2-3-1 is the way to go in tight matches, 4-4-1-1 definitely a good plan B and a good plan A for the easy games.

    2 questions requiring sensible answers…

    1. Is it just me or is it going to be difficult fitting both Kagawa and Rooney into one a 4-3-3 or 4-4-1-1 system?

    2. Will Nani stick around this summer and where will he play if he does (no use keeping him if he isn’t going to start)?

  70. DamnedUnited says:

    I don’t know why people are harping on about Rooney being jettisoned since Kagawa’s come in. If Kagawa’s a no. 10 and Rooney’s the no. 9, so what? Welbeck is not yet a 25+ goals striker at the moment. Hernandez needs more work on his ball control and on his overall game even though his finishing is excellent because teams are figuring him out and he needs to become more unpredictable.

    Berba’s probably gonna leave so that leaves United with three main strikers and maybe a reserve in Keane/Macheda.

    I always thought Nani could be played in the no. 10 position but Fergie never tried that. Now that we have Kagawa, it gives United more options in the front 2 combo.

  71. Newton Heath RED says:

    one things for sure… one signing will not be enough this season… one signing plus Nick Powell wont be enough either

  72. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jun/05/shinji-kagawa-manchester-united?cat=football&type=article
    Interesting article in general, but this quote stuck out in particular:
    “reports in Tokyo indicate that Kagawa was offered a brief as the central fulcrum behind Wayne Rooney in a 4-2-3-1 formation when he met United’s manager to finalise his switch”
    So there you go, hopefully no wide left shite

    we are man united, we do what we want

  73. Tommy said:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jun/05/shinji-kagawa-manchester-united?cat=football&type=article

    Interesting article in general, but this quote stuck out in particular:

    “reports in Tokyo indicate that Kagawa was offered a brief as the central fulcrum behind Wayne Rooney in a 4-2-3-1 formation when he met United’s manager to finalise his switch”

    So there you go, hopefully no wide left shite

    That is a great formation but we need another midfielder to partner Carrick in the 2.

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