As Manchester United head to Spain for their Champions League clash with Real Sociedad, many fans continue to holler for Shinji Kagawa to be handed a more prominent role.
Life after Sir Alex was never going to be straightforward and, despite enjoying a four-match winning streak, United have been far from their fluid best as a string of poor performances has seen the fear-factor associated with the club diminish.
But the question remains: is Kagawa really the answer to United’s problems?
It is not just a lack of creativity that has seen United struggle - indeed only Arsenal and Manchester City have scored more goals in the league this season. An aging and increasingly mistake-prone defence is equally at fault, as is the drop in cohesion following the change in management.
But a quick glance on Twitter during the Manchester derby in September confirmed many United fans longed for the Japanese midfielder to solve their mini-crisis. Since then every match he has failed to feature in has drawn a similar response.
That was the popular opinion, an easy way for supporters to vent their frustration as Moyes began the near-impossible task of filling the void left by Ferguson. It’s never easy for the collective to acknowledge when they're mistaken, but on this occasion it appears they might just be.
Kagawa’s substitute appearance against Fulham at the weekend was particularly disappointing. Numerous passes went astray and, although the game was already won, he was left on the game’s periphery. With United in the ascendancy it was a chance for him to showcase his ability but instead his lack of defensive know-how left the visitors open as Fulham carved out a number of opportunities.
His performance in the League Cup against Liverpool is cited as a reason to give him an extended run in the team. But in truth it was merely a good performance, the sort that should be expected of a United player on a regular basis.
The overused argument that he deserves 10 to 12 games before being properly assessed holds some weight, but Adnan Januzaj – with no previous Premier League experience – took no time at all to make an instant impact with both goals in the potentially season-defining 2-1 win at Sunderland.
And aside from his classy hat-trick against Norwich, there haven’t been too many occasions when Kagawa has made a telling contribution.
His main problem though is his preferred position, the trequartista role, is currently occupied by the resurgent Wayne Rooney who continues to play with renewed freedom under Moyes.
Kagawa is surplus to requirements through the middle with Rooney able to provide the creativity and given the form of Januzaj, there doesn’t appear to be space for him on United’s left either.
Comparisons can be drawn with Nuri Sahin’s plight after leaving Borussia Dortmund, Kagawa's former employers. Sahin left the Bundesliga for the big-time with Real Madrid but, after just a handful of performances, was shipped out to Merseyside to join Liverpool on loan.
A succession of average performances followed, further damaging the Turkey international’s reputation, and it wasn’t long before he was back with Dortmund. He has flourished on his return.
Perhaps Kagawa, too, is simply not cut out for the English game.
It is widely expected that the diminutive midfielder will be picked for United’s Champions League match with Sociedad on Tuesday – a match which has the potential to define his future at Old Trafford.
The Spaniards, bottom of Group A with an undesirable 100 per cent losing record, have to win to keep their slim last-16 hopes alive and so will have to pick a relatively attacking side, leaving space for the United front men to exploit.
Kagawa, influential as the Reds beat Sociedad 1-0 at Old Trafford, must play with the verve and flair that merits an inclusion in Sunday’s crucial match with Arsenal.
United need players capable of firing them to domestic and continental honours. In Kagawa they have a good player, but currently not one who is set to go down as an Old Trafford legend.
If Kagawa gets the nod against Sociedad, he must step up or accept his future may well lie elsewhere.
Ben Snowball (on Twitter: @BenSnowball)