Monday 20 November 2017

Kagawa reveals Ferguson order to 'front up' in bid to find net more

Ian Herbert

Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa has revealed that Alex Ferguson's advice to him is "face the goal or you won't be a threat," as he attempts to impose himself on the Premier League.

Kagawa has scored twice for United in seven starts, though Ferguson clearly feels he must develop a direct style to find the net more, just as the manager did when telling Antonio Valencia he should shoot more often, after he brought a poor goalscoring record to Old Trafford in the summer of 2009.

Ferguson last week said of the 23-year-old that "you always try and improve your players; that's our job as coaches and hopefully we can improve Kagawa."

The message has been "don't face the goal with your back, but move your body so you have a short way to the goal. Shape your body so you are facing the stands," Kagawa said. "I have to face the goal or I won't be a threat."

The player admitted in July that his English would require some working on. During his school days, Kagawa was deeply preoccupied with football while he studied for a back-up career option in the construction industry.

Though the 5ft 7in Kagawa looked at times physically challenged in Sunday's 3-0 win at Newcastle, there were flashes of the creativity and he hinted at his potential to become a major Champions League performer in the first half of United's 1-0 over Galatasaray last month.

Kagawa (right) has expressed disappointment at not translating that Old Trafford performance into a first European goal for his new club, but saw a substantial difference between his current and previous club Borussia Dortmund in how, despite an unconvincing display, United beat the Turkish team. "Dortmund would have lost that match," he said. "Winning a game (that) way is characteristic of a big club. The level of experience (at United) is very high."

The physical toll of the Premier League has already revealed itself in a back injury and Kagawa said: "I need to limber up and strengthen my body trunk."

The impression Kagawa made on the Bundesliga after his arrival from Cereza Osaka in August 2010 was instantaneous. "The boy plays like an angel," said his then team-mate Nuri Sahin, now at Liverpool, after a Europa League match.

Ferguson feels the adaptation here will be more challenging for the player. "We're very pleased with Shinji," he said. "Adapting to English football isn't easy but bit by bit he's getting down to that part." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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