Saturday the twenty-first of July. Two Thousand And Twelve. The day a certain Shinji Kagawa (or the Japanese lad if you’re dear old Paddy Crerand) started his first game for MUFC.
And an impressive debut it was. Kagawa floated in and out of the space in front of the defence, like a boxer who fights on the outside. Excellent footwork. Mobile. Glides rather than runs. United have lacked a player like this since forever. Yes Scholes would run from deep to the box in his younger days. Giggs has played this role off the striker before. And then there’s Rooney. We know Wazza loves to drop deep, but this affects that core position at the top of the team. It crowds the midfield, and invariably the ball goes wide to the wingers. Opposition teams have worked this all out.
What Kagawa brings is an elusive central element. A player the opposition will find very hard to track. He wont be as basic as Rooney, who simply runs backwards to try to get things going forwards. Even with this first cameo edition of Kagawa in South Africa that we witnessed today, you can see what the intent will be from him. This is all very promising. It points towards a move away from 4-4-2, to a more interchangeable 4-2-3-1, and in terms of taking on the very best in England and abroad, this formation is more progressive.
But the name on everyones lips at the moment surprisingly isnt Kagawa. In fact, he doesn’t even play for us.
As fans got caught up in the whole Eden Hazard trash transfer, they are now turning their energy to Robin Van Persie…
Fergie stages some odd MUTV interview, and our planet starts to spin in a totally different direction. Gone are the constraints of the Glazers, the debt, the fact that we do not pay wages by the shed load like City and Chelsea do. Mr Van Persie may fancy coming to United because…well…were MANCHESTER UNITED. EVERYONE WANTS TO PLAY FOR US, RIGHT? BERBATOV DID…HE COULDVE GONE TO CITY… and the the yawn fest continues
Indeed Fergie has always been a Van Persie fan. He has always admired the Dutchman. Last March when every Arsenal fan I knew was leading with the line ‘RvP wont desert the blessed Gunners. He loves us too much. He doesn’t need the cash you know’…Mr Van Persie’s agent was touting him to a team in Blue from the North West. Hmm…yes…RvP doesnt need the huge £200k a week wages does he? He wants trophies not money (more yawning)
Whatever Sir Alex’s reason for telling the world he has bid for the Arsenal soon to be ex-captain, the truth is not exactly as simple as ‘he likes him’
Football + Financial = Players signature. This is the equation modern football and modern business operates under. Firstly, why would Van Persie join us? Does he support United? Nope. Is there a burning desire to work with our manager? Doubtful, but maybe? Does he want to leave Arsenal for trophies. It’s a factor yes. Is he about to be given the last huge deal of his life?…ah…now were talking.
If Manchester City had no interest in Van Persie, then there would be a good chance we could nab him. But they want him, because Tevez is about to be shipped out to Italy. They need him. And strangely enough…we don’t.
We need a midfielder. We need a left back to give Evra a kick in the pants. We need everything but a centre forward. Even when you take Berbatov and Owen out of the squad, we still have four centre forwards in Roo, Welbs, Chico and Kiko. AND WE HAVE KAGAWA.
This Van Persie bid makes little sense. Yes you could come up with conspiracy theories about season ticket sales and the upcoming share issue (a Van Persie bid makes a good PR stew) but the fact remains there is no financial sense in him joining us over City, and there is little footballing sense in Fergie wanting him for this specific squad he has. Van Persie is world-class. No doubts. But if that was the reasoning of this case, Sir Alex could just pick any world-class player out the hat and go and buy him! Fergie knows the weaknesses of the squad. He would’ve communicated that to the owners. And that is why we spent three months putting together a charm offensive on Dortmund and the little Japanese fella. The Glazers are NOT suddenly going to authorise a large fee for a 29-year-old. Who’s injury record is positively criminal. And is a player we don’t really need in a football sense. He wont even sell shirts like Kagawa! Of course that’s a fact that only bothers Nike and not the manager.
I understand why fans want to believe Van Persie is coming. We love a bit of fantasy football. Even when we signed Berbatov for a record fee, he wasnt the sort of signing that would get a Real Madrid fan out of bed. Fans want something to believe in. The tabloids are normally the sugar that they pour into their coffee. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see why this deal wont happen.
The Cult of Kagawa however…that may well happen. Today we saw just a glimpse of what he could be. You can see him feeding Rooney, sliding in Chico down the channel, playing the perfect pass for a marauding Welbeck. You can see him ghosting in… clipping in a goal from a Valencia cross. It is all there, waiting to happen.
Manchester City took a huge step forward when they purchased a not very Premier League midfielder. His name was David Silva. A player who allows the midfield to play midfield and the strikers to buzz around the box and to score goals. Weve not had a player that can do that for us, in recent memory.
Now we do. His name is Shinji. And he is here to battle the Blue robots. Have United got their own Messi? Dont you dare even dream.