Interviews

Exclusive: Shinji Kagawa on Dortmund's 2015/16, battling Bayern and what he'd do again at Man United

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What did you think about your personal performance this year?

I think I had a good start and was pleased with how I played over the first half of the season. Things changed a little over the second half of the season, though, and I struggled to adjust to some of the changes in the team, but I’ll work to improve that next season.

Around February and March, when I wasn’t starting regularly, that was an important experience and nothing goes perfect all season long, so I need to control those things. You always need to strive to prove yourself, especially in a strong team like ours.

What’s your impression of Thomas Tuchel?

He has an eye for detail; he’s always well prepared and plans things match by match, so it’s easy to understand what he’s trying to do and that makes it easier for players to implement his ideas.

How much are you looking forward to playing in the Champions League again next season?

It’s always good to be involved in the Champions League and seeing how far we can go there. But with the way they’ve changed the draw it’s going to be tough and there’s a chance we’ll draw some very strong teams. But we know this is a fantastic tournament and we want to do well.

Every time I hear the Champions League anthem I get excited and can’t wait to get out there and play

Every year when I watch the tournament I think it’s a wonderful experience, and every time I hear the Champions League anthem I get excited and can’t wait to get out there and play.

You lost to Liverpool in the Europa League in difficult circumstances. What was the mood like among the team after that? Did you speak to Jurgen Klopp afterwards?!

It was tough after we were in front early in the second leg, but as difficult as things were mentally and physically and as disappointing as the result was, we simply had to move on and focus on the next games because there were other important matches to come. Did I speak with Klopp? We didn’t chat for long, just exchanged greetings.

Ilkay Gundogan is one of Shinji's closest friends at Dortmund

Is he going to bring you to Liverpool?

I don’t think so! (laughs)

In all seriousness, have you thought about returning to play in England?

I’m not thinking about that at the moment, I’m just focused on Dortmund.

During the second half of the season there were a lot of changes in formation and players, but we kept winning

How do you reflect on your time at Manchester United, looking back?

I was still young, just 24 or 25. I had a lot of experiences there and that helped me grow, and looking back I wasn’t concerned about anything, just focusing on doing the best I could.

Of course there were good players there but everyone thinks differently; the Dortmund coach is the Dortmund coach, and the Manchester United coach is the Manchester United coach, and I just have to accept how everything went.

Concluded on the next page. What would he do differently if he had his Old Trafford time over again?