at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Shinji Kagawa to show his true value to Manchester United next season once the Japan midfielder adapts to the more physical nature of the Barclays Premier League.
United’s £12million summer signing from Borussia Dortmund has suffered indifferent form since returning from the knee injury he sustained against SC Braga in October. Kagawa’s recovery was slower than expected and he ended up being sidelined for more than two months. The 23-year-old has since failed to score in 10 appearances, having started the season with two goals in his first six games.
Kagawa was again disappointing in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu and was withdrawn after 64 minutes.
Ferguson is aware of the concerns, but insists the player will improve significantly next season.
“There’s a physicality to our game which is different from Germany, but next year he’ll be better,” said the United boss. “The difference is that in Germany you can’t foul. It’s just foul after foul. You’re not allowed to touch anyone in Germany so he’s come from that environment to the Premier League, which is totally different.
“I thought in the first half-hour in Madrid he was terrific and he was making some great runs through them. We thought that was going to be one of our biggest assets in the game, someone to play in the second balls, and he was just unlucky with a couple of heavy touches on the ball.
“If people don’t see that, it’s actually unfair.”
Ferguson must decide whether to rest Kagawa for Monday’s FA Cup tie at home to Reading after promising to make changes to cope with the demand of chasing trophies on three fronts.
Having claimed on Friday his squad are stronger even than his Treble winners of 1999, Ferguson admitted it is difficult keeping all his players happy. Some key performers were left out all together at the Bernabeu while veteran Ryan Giggs was on the pitch for almost half an hour as Kagawa’s replacement, having played a full game against Everton three days earlier.
“If Giggsy hadn’t put that effort in on Sunday I probably would have played him for his experience but he did great when he came on,’ said Ferguson. ‘He’s been unbelievable, I don’t know how he does it.”
Reading manager Brian McDermott said Giggs has the attributes to become a top boss when he hangs up his boots. McDermott said: “I met him at Burton. He was doing his Pro Licence and he has got all the ingredients to be a top manager.
“He is humble, quiet and I asked him how many medals he had won. He was very blase and just said 12. I asked what he did with them all and he said they were in museums. He was a humble and polite man. I was really impressed, he came up to me and shook my hand.” – Daily Mail