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Daily Debate: Should Shinji play at No.10?

Following his fine performance in Europe, two TEAMtalk writers debate whether Shinji Kagawa should stay at No.10 for Manchester United.

Last Updated: 30/11/13 at 19:47 Post Comment   

Shinji Kagawa: Shone for United against Leverkusen

Shinji Kagawa: Shone for United against Leverkusen

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In Daily Debate, two of our in-house writers give their views on a hot topic and then invite readers to decide who has put forward the best argument.

You can vote for your winner using the story comment facility at the bottom of the article, or by declaring your support on Twitter.

Should Shinji Kagawa be Manchester United's regular No.10?

Robin van Persie's absence for Wednesday night's Champions League clash against Bayer Leverkusen offered playmaker Kagawa a chance to shine in his favoured No.10 role.

He has been a bit-part player in the Premier League under David Moyes so far, with the United boss often electing to play him a wide left role, from where he has drifted in and out of the three games he has started.

Kagawa made his reputation playing in the No.10 position for Borussia Dortmund, with his former manager Jurgen Klopp reduced to tears over the way Sir Alex Ferguson and now Moyes have managed his United career.

And following his dazzling display in the 5-0 demolition of Sami Hyppia's hosts, the question remains: Does Moyes need to find a system that allows Kagawa to play centrally on a regular basis? Or is Moyes right to play Rooney behind Van Persie when both strikers are fit?

Simon Wilkes (@SimonJWilkes) - Play him centrally

However he does it, Moyes needs to come up with a formation which can accommodate Kagawa, Rooney and Van Persie as this fearsome threesome could fire the club to silverware in his debut season.

Kagawa simply has to be the man in the middle when it comes to the No.10 role as his touch, vision and movement are a joy to behold when given the licence to thrill in the attacking third.

There are many formations available to Moyes, but following Marouane Fellaini's failure to make the desired impact following his big-money arrival, I'd sacrifice him and just play the one holding midfielder in Michael Carrick, with Nani and Antonio Valencia on the flanks, and Kagawa in the hole behind Rooney and rocking Robin.

This would certainly be fine for games at Old Trafford, where the selection of two wingers stretches the opposition's full-backs, freeing up space down the middle for Kagawa to exploit and cause havoc. Moyes may need to rotate Rooney and Van Persie in lone striker roles on the road, adding the likes of Ryan Giggs or Fellaini for more control and protection.

But Sir Alex Ferguson found a way to get Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch, and reaped the rewards, so Moyes needs to start throwing a little more caution to the wind.

With visiting teams arriving in Manchester with much less fear and more organisation than recent seasons, United need Kagawa's ability to unlock a well-drilled defence where it can hurt rivals the most.

Kagawa revelled in being the hub through which United's attacking play was orchestrated in Leverkusen, and is wasted on the left flank as he relishes link-up play and intricate passing moves, as opposed to skinning a defender and getting a decent cross in.

Moyes asked the question in giving Kagawa the chance to shine on Wednesday night - and had the answer rammed down his throat. His midweek display could be the launchpad for Kagawa's United career - but only if Moyes makes him central to his attacking plans.

State your support for Simon using the story comment facility below or by tweeting the hashtag #Shinji10 to @TEAMtalk.

Matt Stead (@MattStead91) - He should play wherever Moyes needs him

Despite an admittedly brilliant performance in the trouncing of Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, Shinji Kagawa may have to accept that life in Manchester is a little different to that he enjoyed in Dortmund.

It was his excellent form over the course of two barnstorming years in Germany where the Japanese star really burst onto the scene. As part of an impressive triumvirate also involving Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze, Dortmund's free-flowing, counter-attacking style was a joy to behold at times.

Jurgen Klopp had built a team around his star playmaker and, of course, it was this form that earned him his big-money move to United.

But the problem lies therein. At United, it's a very different style. As opposed to concentrating play through the centre - as Dortmund did with Kagawa as the focal point - they place more emphasis on building attacks out wide. Indeed, Kagawa should be no stranger to this system, considering he's spent much of his United career out on the left, much to his annoyance.

With Wayne Rooney's current form, you can understand the predicament Moyes is in. The No.10 role only works when dropping deep to start attacks. This is where Rooney flourishes, whereas Kagawa struggles. Understandably so, too, as Dortmund built a team around him with the midfield pivots of Sebastian Kehl and Ilkay Gundogan doing the defensive hard-work, taking the pressure off Kagawa. United can't afford the same luxuries, so it's doubtful we'll ever truly see Shinji at his best.

Marouane Fellaini cannot be relied on to fulfill the role that Kehl or Gundogan did at Dortmund as he is too limited, while Ryan Giggs - his own stunning contributions against Leverkusen notwithstanding - is often found wanting. Michael Carrick would be a safer bet, but that would both negate his powers and lessen the protection afforded to United's back four.

Kagawa could have a future as the focal point of David Moyes' side, but only if the Scot is willing to completely change his system. United would have to play quick counter-attacking football with a high tempo and high intensity.

Klopp and Dortmund suited their style around Kagawa's technical strengths, letting him do what he does best. Unfortunately, the players United have at their disposal wouldn't suit the style that Kagawa needs to impress and, quite frankly, it's a team game.

Moyes needs to use his squad efficiently to fire on numerous fronts in search of a trophy, and Kagawa may have to settle for the odd starring role when needed.

The Japanese star is incredibly gifted and talented, but he just doesn't suit United right now. As a squad player he's immensely useful, but as a regular starter? Not unless either he or United change their ways.

State your support for Matt using the story comment facility below or by tweeting the hashtag #Shinjianywhere to @TEAMtalk.

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