Former Manchester United forward Shinji Kagawa has revealed that much of his poor form at the Premier League side was due to a change in tactics under new manager David Moyes and that the managerial change that took place at Old Trafford during his time at the club was an “important lesson” that he has took with him ever since. The Japan international made the move from Borussia Dortmund to Man Utd in 2012, when the English side paid £14.4 million for his services. Despite a stellar career in Germany which saw the attacking midfielder bag 60 goals and 55 assists in just 216 games for Dortmund, Kagawa was unable to replicate that form in England, where he managed just six goals and 10 assists in 57 games.
Kagawa did enjoy a bright start at Man Utd under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, where he picked up six goals and six assists in just 26 appearances in his first season. However, in his second year at the club Ferguson was replaced by Moyes, who struggled to get the best out of the Japanese international. And as he looks back now almost 10 years on, the midfielder is willing to admit that Ferguson’s successor simply wasn’t the best manager to get the best out of him.
“Of course, there were many reasons and not one in particular, but the most important one for me in retrospect was the change of coach,” said Kagawa when asked why his move to Old Trafford didn’t work out, in an exclusive interview with Transfermarkt. “When a new coach comes in, there is usually a different tactic. As a team, we then didn’t function well in my second year. When that’s the case, it becomes harder and harder for the individual player to function well, too. That happens in football all the time and for me to find that out was an important lesson at the time.”
‘I was really lucky’ – Kagawa looks back on time under Klopp
Another factor which may have played into Kagawa’s misfortune at Man Utd is the fact that he already had plenty of experience of working under one of the best head coaches in European football, in the form of Jürgen Klopp. Not only did the energetic and exciting German manager sign Kagawa for Dortmund in 2010 but he also played a huge part in turning Kagawa into the player he would become.
“Looking back, I have to say that I was really lucky with the timing and the coach,” said Kagawa. “When I moved to Dortmund, I also got to know Jürgen Klopp. I don’t have to explain how good he is as a coach, you just have to look at where he is today.” Indeed, the attacking midfielder one no less than two Bundesliga titles and two German Cups under Klopp, as well as reaching the Champions League final, where his side narrowly lost to Bayern Munich. Despite coming so close to becoming a European champion, only to lose out to a domestic rivals, Kagawa fondly remembers his time at Dortmund and the first trophies he won with the Bundesliga club. “Oh, there are too many great memories,” said Kagawa. “Let me think, it’s hard to choose one memory. Of course, the day we became champions and also the day we won the cup. It was perfect.”