Getting through a frustrating spell in your first season with Manchester United is one thing, but Shinji Kagawa is striving to come out the other end and play the best football of his career.
The 23-year-old playmaker began life at Old Trafford with a string of promising performances, but just three months into his career he suffered a series on injury setbacks.
And after managing to force his way back into the first-team, the Japan midfielder is raring to make up for a poor start – if only to make up for his own self disappointment.
“I’m not satisfied so far, but then I am always very critical of my own performances,” he told manutd.com “Even worse, though, I got injured. I had to go through the frustrations that come with getting injured in my first season with the team.
“Now I’m just doing my best to catch up on what I have missed. There’s a lot of pressure when you play for this club, but all I can do at the moment is keep working hard every day to bring out the best in me.
“I’m confident my hard work will pay off.”
Kagawa joined from German champions Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal and is regularly deployed by Sir Alex Ferguson in a strikers’ support role.
After netting 17 goals in one of Europe’s best leagues last year, Kagawa has gone a long way in replacing former Reds ace Park Ji-Sung as East Asia’s football icon.
And Kagawa admitted that his move to England was benefitted by advice given to him for the South Korean midfielder.
“For me, personally, the fact that an Asian player, Ji-Sung Park, played for the club had a big impact on me. I used to watch United matches on TV when I was little,” he added.
“But the weather is not as good as I imagined [laughs]! It rains a lot and it’s often cloudy.
“But I’m used to it now.”
Kagawa has 15 appearances for United under his belt so far and as the Reds prepare for the business end of the season to kick in, the chance to rotate his squad with fresh legs will be a welcome boost for Sir Alex.
Image courtesy of mncomps via YouTube, with thanks.