Tag Park Ji-Sung

Tag Park Ji-Sung

Three Lungs departs

Ed July 9, 2012 Tags: Opinion 31 comments

There is a sad irony in Park Ji-Sung’s ‘Three Lungs’ moniker, with the  midfielder seemingly reduced to something far less as the South Korean huffed his way around the Eastlands pitch for an hour of Manchester United’s crucial 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in April. Park, incongruously selected by Sir Alex Ferguson for the Reds’ season-defining Premier League match, was not only truly dreadful on the night, but patently unfit for the encounter. After seven years and more than 200 games for United it was no way to end a career at the highest level.

But with United accepting Queens Park Rangers’ £2.5 million bid for Park at the weekend – a deal that with performance related add-ons may increase to £5 million – the former PSV Eindhoven midfielder’s ignominious appearance against City on 30 April was his last in Red.

Park’s departure was officially confirmed on Monday after the 31-year-old completed a medical at the ambitious west London outfit and work-permit approval was granted by the home office. Park’s arrival at Loftus Road was accompanied by the usual guff; platitudes from player and manager, along with the bizarre assertion from owner Tony Fernandes that the South Korean’s acquisition marks QPR’s arrival on the international stage.

“This is a real coup for QPR,” chimed manager Mark Hughes at QPR’s press conference on Monday afternoon.

“We are delighted Ji is going to join us because his record speaks for itself. He has been a big player for Manchester United and played a big part in their success in recent years. He is hugely respected there because of what he has achieved, his application to his work and the impact he has on games. He was always picked for the big matches because they could rely on him, and we are going to reap all those qualities.

“I think it is fair to say Ji has been attracted not by where QPR are, but where QPR are going. We were able to show him where we feel the Club is heading and he embraced it. He felt this was a good option for him and after giving seven great years to United he wanted a new challenge. He sees QPR as very much a Club on the up and wants to be part of something that is going to be very special.”

Park arrived at Old Trafford from PSV in summer 2005 for a bargain at £4 million, having impressed with the Dutch club in the Champions League, and at international level with South Korea. In total Park played 205 games for United, scoring 27 goals, although there were just 93 Premier League starts in seven seasons with the club.

Although Park was rarely able to hold down a first team place, he gained a reputation for being a ‘big game player’, as manager Ferguson turned to the South Korean’s tactical discipline in high pressure matches both at home and in the Champions League. Park’s ability to defend from the point of a three-man central midfield, or protect his full-back when deployed wide, won Ferguson’s trust despite the Korean’s limited technical ability and infuriating propensity to fall over with the slightest physical contact.

Indeed, it is in some of United’s biggest games that Park is best remembered; the Champions League second round against AC Milan in 2010 when Park outshone Euro 2012 Andrea Pirlo, for example. He also scored against Arsenal in the semi-final of the same competition, and struck to secure United’s victory over Liverpool in 2010, while finding the net against Chelsea in Europe during the 2010/11 campaign.

So too will Park be remembered as a pioneer: the first Asian to play for United, the first South Korean to appear in the Premier League, four domestic titles – three in succession between 2007 and 2009 – and of course a Champions League winners medal in 2008. Where few Asian players had succeeded in the Premier League, Park thrived and then some.

But there was disappointment too, with the player left out of Ferguson’s 2009 Champions League final matchday party. So too were fans disheartened by Park’s frustratingly limited technical ability; a player selected too often in offensive positions for his defensive discipline and stamina, while more talented players sat on the bench. The ‘coward’s winger’, who offered too little going forward, but ran himself into the ground for the team all the same.

“He’s been a fantastic servant to the club over the past seven years,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

“He is the ultimate professional and such a nice lad; he never let us down on the big occasions. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t give him the number of games he wanted. Everyone at Manchester United wishes him well for the future and I am sure he will be a great success at QPR.”

Indeed, Park owes his longevity at Old Trafford to Ferguson’s trust when many supporters point to the midfielder’s limited natural talent. Yet, so too is the 70-year-old United coach culpable for transforming Park from the genuine offensive player that appeared for PSV in three successful seasons, into a player noted more for a his defensive work while in England.

It is the player’s dubious technical merits that have so often led to accusations that the player remained at Old Trafford for commercial and not footballing reasons. While the marketing element has always been overstated, cynics will note that Park has been jettisoned just a month after United acquired a new marquee Asian player in Japanese international Shinji Kagawa.

Still, while the South Korea may never rank among the very finest to have played for the club, he will be remembered with affection; for his never-ending work-rate and selfless understanding of the team ethic. These, after all, are attributes that far more talented players still in Ferguson’s squad so desperately require.

“My time at United will last in my heart for the rest of my life,” Park said on Monday.

“It’s been a great privilege to be part of such a great team, to have won so much and to have played with special teammates and for the greatest manager in the game. I would like to thank everybody at the club who give their best every single day to put every player in the best condition to enjoy their football and achieve success. The fans have been fantastic to me and I will always remember them with great affection.”

Whether Park secures the same affection at Loftus Road in the final two years of his career is a question for the season ahead. Certainly, United fans will afford the player a rousing welcome when he returns to Old Trafford as a QPR player in November.

Valencia return adds to United’s creative edge

Ed February 15, 2011 Tags: , Opinion 14 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson delivered mixed news on the injury front today, with Antonio Valencia now training with the reserves ahead of a potential first team return in March but Park Ji-Sung now ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury. Bittersweet news of course, although the sum total could still mean his Manchester United team is better equipped for the Premier League and European run-in.

“We got a blow on Saturday morning with the news that Ji-sung Park did his hamstring on Friday afternoon in training,” confirmed the 69-year-old United manager.

“It was very unfortunate because it was his last kick of the ball in training as well. We were really looking forward to having him back after being away for a month at the Asian Cup. He’ll be out for up to a month, which is a blow to us.

“The good news is that Valencia started training with the Reserves on Saturday. So he’s on his way back and that will be a real boost to have him available for the run-in.”

Valencia’s return on schedule after the agonising leg break and ankle dislocation suffered against Rangers in September adds not only to Ferguson’s attacking options but the flexibility of United’s squad. The Ecuadorian’s pace, eye for goal and – perhaps crucially – potential to ignite Wayne Rooney into a goalscoring run could prove the difference come May.

After all, Valencia’s sound delivery from the right-wing in no small part contributed to Rooney’s 34-goal haul last season, with the former Evertonian scoring an uncanny number of headed goals.

That said, United’s ability to cope with Valencia’s absence this season is not in doubt; a permanent switch to the right has brought greater consistency to Nani’s game and Ryan Giggs’ evergreen presence has provided some stability on the left, even if Ferguson’s options are limited.

Meanwhile, Park’s injury reduces – at a minimum – Ferguson’s alternatives in midfield, especially in European away matches where the South Korean has tended to play in a ‘defensive attacking’ role. Park is no doubt a negative choice on United’s win, offering much less in attacking creative output that some of Ferguson’s alternatives. Yet, the 29-year-old remains a key defensive tool in Ferguson’s tactical planning.

Even with Valencia at his disposal Ferguson faces something of a tactical dilemma in the coming weeks, presuming the players returns to last season’s level of consistency. After all, Nani is thriving on the right-side of United’s midfield, not only scoring but creating too. Indeed, the Portuguese has hit the net 11 times this season, contributed 13 direct assists and been involved in the build up in 31 of United’s 32 Premier League goals when the 25-year-old has started. These are impressive statistics on any level.

Switching Nani to the left not only risks upsetting the player’s form but potentially unbalancing United’s attack in crucial matches away from home. Ferguson’s desire for United to never be outnumbered in midfield is paramount and in that context, it’ll be a brave move by the Scot to deploy both Nani and Valencia in key away fixtures against Marseille, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, presuming fitness on both players’ part.

Indeed, recent history says that the Scot will adopt a wholly negative approach in those games, seeking first and foremost to protect United’s four-point Premier League lead and even up the tactical battle against teams that will each deploy three men in central midfield.

Moreover, Park has played a crucial role in some of United’s biggest fixtures in recent seasons, such as the Reds’ two-legged victory over AC Milan this time last season.

Whatever the tactical choices, Valencia’s return is a personal triumph for the player, who has become both with United’s fans and in the dressing room. The former Wigan Athletic winger’s unassuming nature, initially seen as potentially inhibiting on the pitch, is heartily welcomed by supporters keen to see performances not ‘brand development’.

The players return comes with a word of warning though. Positive as the news surely is, it may still prove a long road. After all, neither Dion Dublin nor Alan Smith made it at Old Trafford following similar injuries. Neither had Valencia’s talent of course but in elite sport inherent talent is only one part of the picture.

Why Park is doing great but could still be sold

Jay Shon December 18, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 26 comments

In the past, one could forgive Wayne Rooney’s lack of goals on the rationale that he adds much more to the game than pure goal scoring. No longer of course but it follows logically that one can also criticise a player for doing little but scoring goals. It is perhaps a little harsh to apply the same argument to Park Ji Sung, who is not a goalscorer.

Crucial then that the Korean does add a lot more to the Manchester United side than few goals here and there.

Previously, this column argued that Park isn’t suited to a traditional 4-4-2, where players line up in broadly three ‘bands.’ The terms ‘wingers’ and ‘wide midfielders’ are used interchangeably. In practice it is a lot more nuanced than that of course; some players more attacking, some offer defensive support.

A subspecies of wingers, one that boasts Park and Dirk Kuyt, specialise less in wing wizardry but in defence. Still working high up the pitch, these players succeed in placing pressure on the opposition full-back.

Park’s greatest strength is his intelligence. His understanding and use of space and geometry on the pitch is second only to Rooney in the United squad. As such, the South Korean captain looks to roam, taking advantage of space and creating it for others.

Park’s movement enhances United’s dynamic front line. On the left of a 4-2-3-1 the South Korean’s nominal job is to mark the full-back. Yet, even if the full-back moves infield Park can, and often does, follow his opponent. Frequently United’s attacking central midfielder breaks ahead of the ball, and the lone forward – in that system – shifts to the flank in response.

This particular example is one of many team movements that happen in real games because of Park’s involvement. It is no accident that some recent hammerings handed out by United, such as the home game against Milan and away against Arsenal last season, involved Park – fluid movements can unsettle even the toughest of defence.

In flexible formations United’s players are in close proximity to Park and can switch position. By contrast, n classical 4-4-2 similar movements are harder and often unsettling. After all, an attacking central midfielder doing a stint up-front is easier conceptually than a striker dropping into central midfield. As such, when deployed in a 4-4-2, Park must stick closely to his position or risk leaving United vulnerable to counters. The ultimate irony of using a defensive winger – a tactic that is rather cowardly – is that it often results in fluid movement, the hallmark of modern attacking football.

Adding to the irony is the fact that defensive wingers like Park often require a high tempo, pressing game with a high line. It’s another trait of the modern game. Much of Park’s defensive role is based on tireless harrying, forcing the team to press and United’s defence to push up. Most of the time, United’s players are prescient enough to move up or drop deep depending on the situation. Last Monday United defended deep and played a pressing game contemporaneously – a tactical marvel.

Since Park’s game is much more suited to flexible systems, it is no mystery that he play’s better when the Reds deploy various takes on 4-5-1. But fluidity only partially makes up for the former PSV player’s limited technique. When Park is in a good patch of form, he can control the ball at least long enough to pass it. When the Korean is playing badly, he gives the ball away cheaply.

Technically exceptional players are also much less prone to losing possession under pressure. As such, gifted opposition players can play around Park and exploit the gap that pops up as United players shift position. The Champions League Final against Barcelona a year ago is an example.

With Gabriel Obertan and Bébé making little notable progress, Park will remain first choice. But as the Korean will soon leave for the Asian Cup, United will have to experiment with existing players, perhaps recalling Cleverley from loan, or bring in somebody new.

With impending retirements of senior figures, availability of classy playmakers on the market, promise of youngsters on the wing and a supposedly sizeable transfer kitty the safest option might be to purchase Javier Pastore – a central midfield playermaker – and push Rooney to the left.

Another option is to bequeath the playmaking role to Anderson, push Rooney left and trust Dimitar Berbatov or Javier Hernández up-front. And if United can make it work without him, Park is likely to be moved on in the coming summer, for there are many reasons for his departure.

The South Korea captain leaves for the Asian Cup at the end of December, at conclusion of which he will retire from the national team, citing his wish to concentrate on his club career. It’s an important winter for the player who is about to turn thirty.

Yet, his national service swan song could be swiftly met by an adieu from United.

Keeping Park no longer makes sense

Jay Shon October 27, 2010 Tags: Opinion 78 comments

It is not as if Park Ji-Sung has been consistently poor in his time at Manchester United. The South Korean’s first season was okay and he has been an important part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s cultured approach in Europe. There’s no doubt about his effort and work rate. Park also appears a decent human being – no tabloid exposés, at least.

Still, circumstances dictate that it is time for goodbyes.

Various media reports put Park’s weekly wage in the neighborhood of £65,000. He is at best a squad player. In truth, Park has only played regularly in 2005/06 and 2008/09 seasons. It makes little sense to retain a £65,000-per-week-player who cannot get into the first team, especially with the spectre of Glazers’ debt looming over Old Trafford.

Considering that United bought the plater for around £4 million from PSV Eindhoven five years ago, the club is unlikely to find it difficult to make profit even in today’s depressed market.

One could argue that Park’s marketing prowess more than makes up for his relatively high wages but Asian players aren’t required for a club to be successful commercially in Asia.  Barcelona do just fine in the region despite not having any Asian players. In fact, Park’s supposed commercial appeal, especially in his home country, is overblown. Of twenty three Manchester United sponsors, only two – Seoul and Kumho – hail from Korea.

Besides, United is a widely recognised club; the Korean sponsors are not likely to abandon the club, and the Korean fans won’t stop buying the replica shirts, just because there is no longer a Korean player in the United line up. With less than 2 per cent of United’s revenue hailing from overseas markets, there is no conclusive financial reason for keeping Park at the club.

Park is a modern player – his raison d’etre is to take on attacking full-backs and deep-lying playmakers, both thoroughly modern inventions in football. Ironically, it is Park’s willingness to defend that ultimately limits his usefulness. He is frequently deployed to mark someone out of the game, which severely limits Park’s usefulness in 442 even when in a nominally attacking position.

Even in more dynamic systems like 433, where incorporation of attacking midfielders is necessary, it is hard to justify his inclusion as a winger considering that Park is technically average and contributes little offensively. This is true, despite the South Korean’s goal in the Carling Cup last night.

Indeed, one can also make a moral argument that playing Park is a cowardly way out – United can peg back full-backs and deep-lying midfielders by attacking them!

There isn’t one right way to play football of course and United fans certainly don’t seem to care that the recent trophy haul has been brought about by a rather defensive, and one could say un-United, approach. But Park still remains an unattractive option even if United must play defensive wingers. Valencia and Nani are both far superior players offensively and they both put in a lot of work defensively. In the recent fixture against Stoke, for example, Nani made 17 tackles – the rest of the team only put in 25 combined.

Park has sometimes been played as a defensive attacking central midfielder, memorably in fixtures against Milan and Liverpool. But again, Anderson, who has long been deployed in such role, remains a more ‘attractive’ option.

Perhaps even more relevant to Park’s future is the timing of his departure. The midfielder is now 29 and will turn 30 before the end of current season. There has been a marked decline in his pace recently and the situation isn’t going to get any better. He is a surprisingly injury prone player who has suffered knee problems in recent seasons. It suggests the player is close to burnout through overuse.

It leaves United with an expensive player whose physical attributes are on the wane and usefulness in the squad limited. The smart thing to do is sell, after all Park’s value in the transfer market can only decrease.

An overly cynical approach perhaps but humanity isn’t often found in modern football landscape.

United lads look to World Cup games with hope

Ed June 17, 2010 Tags: , , , International No comments

Patrice Evra, Ji-Sung Park and Wayne Rooney face crucial World Cup fixtures over the next two days. While Korea beat Greece, both Rooney and Evra suffered disappointing opening draws. Amid stories of fighting in the French camp and English press criticism, only Park’s Korea, who face Argentina today, play without pressure.

South Korea captain Park faces his good friend and former Manchester United team-mate Carlos Tevez today, as new tournament favourites Argentina look to build on a opening win over Nigeria. The lunchtime kick-off at Soccer City Johannesburg could go a long way to deciding which team wins Group B.

But friendship, which has remained despite the players now on opposite sides of the city, is set aside for the fixture, says the Korean.

“We have played together and I think it is great that we will play against each other, but this is not just a friendly, this is the greatest place to play football,” Park told Sky Sports.

“We are both adversaries for now and we will both be doing our best to win the game.

“We had two years together at Old Trafford and we know each other very well.

“If you know your opponent, you are going to tell your defenders what it will be like, so we are both in the same boat.”

Although fatigue may have played a part in the low-key opening fixtures, Park’s multiple injuries during the season mean he is fresher than most. It’s an advantage, says the 29-year-old winger.

“I think a lot of the European players are a little tired and may not be on top form, but I have rested well and had a good training schedule.

“I am at the top of my condition and physically I think I am very well-prepared.”

Meanwhile, French captain leads his side out against Mexico tonight in Polokwane, with United’s new striking recruit Javier Hernandéz on the opposite side. Despite stories of in-fighting and clashes with the team’s coach Raymond Domenech dominating the media, Evra insists that French spirit is high for the crucial Group A fixture.

Mexico drew its opening fixture against South Africa, while France failed to beat 10-man Uruguay. However, the South Americans’ 3-0 win over the hosts last night means that victory in today’s fixture is essential for both France and Mexico.

“I like to play within a very good team spirit,” said Evra, who was appointed to succeed Thierry Henry as France’s captain.

“I am always making sure that the group remains together and in good spirits and we remain friends, play closely together and are frank with one another so we don’t take our problems out onto the pitch.

“Since the first day you could feel this team was closely-knit and after each training session there are little gestures that cannot lie.”

Rooney, meanwhile, is under pressure to score having failed to hit the net since an early-April ankle injury hampered the end to the striker’s season. With a disappointing draw against the United States behind the team, pressure is mounting on both Rooney and Fabio Capello to deliver a result against Algeria in tomorrow evening’s Group D match.

“I’d like to score, but if I’m not scoring I’ll keep working until I do,” said Rooney, who has scored 25 times in 61 internationals.

“I don’t worry that much about it. We’ve got players in the team who can score goals. For us to do well, I need to play better than I did and to score goals, but I don’t feel under extra pressure.”

“It was difficult for me to play as well as I wanted after I got the injury against Bayern Munich. I played when I probably shouldn’t and lost my match fitness and sharpness.

“Even in Austria (during high altitude training) I had a few niggles and I held myself back but since we’ve come over here I’ve felt sharp and been flat out.

“When I was playing well and scoring goals earlier in the season I was sharp and hungry in training. That is how I feel at the minute.

“Of course I want to score. I don’t mind not scoring if we win but I know for us to win, it will be more or less down to me to score the goals, whether it is now or later in the competition.”

Rooney, rated as one of the finest players on the planet over the past 12 months, says the tournament is an opportunity to consolidate that view with some stand-out performances. So far other leading players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká have failed to inspire in a low-key start to the tournament.

“This is a great opportunity for me to prove myself at world level,” added the 34-goal striker.

“I look at what Maradona and Pelé did. They took the World Cup by the scruff of the neck and virtually won it single-handed.

“If I can manage half of what they achieved, it would be great.”

Park wins as Rooney left disappointed

Ed June 12, 2010 Tags: , , International 3 comments

Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung scored as South Korea opened its World Cup programme with a comprehensive win over Greece in Port Elizabeth. Recalling the effervescent approach the Koreans took on home soil in 2002, Huh Jung-Moo’s side were energetic, lively and fully deserved the 2-0 win over the Euro 2004 champions.

Korea’s performance was in stark contrast to a poor England display in Rustenburg as Wayne Rooney’s side embarrassingly drew with the USA, where there were very few positives for manager Fabio Capello.

Rooney’s subdued display – save for a long-range second half strike – summed up England’s night in which few parts of Capello’s outfit met the standards expected against an obdurate United States. Those of a crueller disposition might add that his side rarely does.

For once though a United player will not become the national scapegoat for English failure – for now at least – with goalkeeper Robert Green’s first-half howler in the Massimo Taibi category for catastrophic errors.

While England dominated possession and created the better chances, 14th ranked USA has burst Capello’s bubble far earlier in the tournament than many expected. Lucky then that Algeria and Slovenia will pose far fewer challenges than Bob Bradley’s outfit.

Meanwhile in Port Elizabeth Park, who is Korea’s captain for the tournament, scored his side’s second as Jung-Moo’s as the 2002 semi-finalists dominated the group B match against a remarkably impotent Greece. With tough fixtures Argentina and Nigeria to come, Korea’s win offers the Asian side an outside chance of qualifying for the last 16.

Park capitalised on a fatal defensive area before characteristically driving into the box and slotting past Kostas Chalkias for the killer goal.

“It’s a great honour and pleasure for me to have been chosen,” said Park of his selection as Korea’s captain.

“We had a good result in our first game, so I am very happy. Since this is the first World Cup which is being held in Africa, I am very happy that we managed to win this game.”

“Personally, I was very honoured to score, but ultimately, it comes down to the team winning, and I am very happy that I managed to contribute to the team’s victory.”

Scheduled to meet first or second place in group A if the side qualifies, Park rightly pinpoints the match against Argentina in five days time as the fixture that will decide Korea’s fate in South Africa this summer.

“Argentina is, of course, the strongest team in our group and people are saying they could make the final,” Park added.

“Before the World Cup, we played a friendly against Spain and we thought about Argentina as we were playing that game.”

“Of course, there is a lot of difference between the two teams, but the unexpected can happen in this World Cup, and that is what we are looking to do.”

The Korean’s dynamism contrasts with England’s rigid 4-4-2 that neither draws the best out of Rooney or plays to the squad’s strength in midfield. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, who failed to gel in the centre of midfield once again, will surely not play together again this tournament.

Although the latter scored, the axis with the Chelsea midfielder has rarely worked and there is little reason to believe Gareth Barry will not return the moment he is match fit.

In the meantime Capello might think about getting the best out of both Rooney and the team by deploying the United striker alone and bringing additional bodies into midfield.

Yes, apparently Emile Heskey does count as a striker partner.

Pat and Ji’s Good Morning Show

Kei Kae April 19, 2010 Tags: , , Just for fun 2 comments

‘Elo everyone, Pat ‘ere.

Like ze Richard and like ze Judy, Ji and I are proud to bring you our new show full of ze latest in Manchester United news, views and hot gossip. So good moaning everyone and welcome to our very first programme. Today, we take a look at ze worrying phenomenon of Dimitar Berbatov hating.

We investigate ze dark world of online football posting and teach you how to cook British/Asian fusion food with Ji’s special recipe for preparing deep fried sushi wiz gravy.

Paddy: Firstly, we ‘ave noticed a lot of angriness towards our friend Dimi. We do not like zis. I am a man of love making exceptionalness and I do not like ze negativity getting in ze way of free amour, especially not with my friends. You must all stop zis now.

Ji: Yes Pat, I aglee with you. In Korea, I am a symbol of love, not just football and whiskey, and I believe strongly that Dimi is a man that eberyone should be loving. Propaganda people out there must stop now and reave him arone.

Dimitar Berbatov United fans

Paddy: Now zat we have put an end to zis silly argument forever, let us move on to ze main part of ze show, our exclusive interview wiz an online chat addict about ‘iz obsession.

Pat: Hello Mr X

Mr X: Hello Pat and Ji

Pat: Most people use ze internet for ze naughty pictures and ze funny videos but for you it is much more zan zat, please tell us what ozer uses ze internet has?

Mr X: Well Pat, I spend most of my time on online football chat rooms. They are a place where you meet like minded people and disagree with them on everything. I try to leave comments everywhere I can, comments about comments, challenging all other people’s thoughts. It’s amazing how many disagreements I can rack up in a day. It’s full time work correcting people’s views, especially those ignorant journalists.

Ji: Wow, that is real flee speech, not like in North Korea.

Mr X: Yes Ji but some people out there do not think of it as a good thing. My counsellor for example, thinks I get too worked up and get into too much stress with idiots who do not agree with my thoughts!

Ji: You mean like in North Korea?

Mr X: Why oh why do these people continuously argue and deny the truth of my well researched opinions? I sometimes feel like I am the only one who truly understands what is really going on with United. It’s so frustrating…

Pat: Mr X, calm down, we do not like ze negativity on zis show.

Mr X: Oh sorry, I get worked up, it must be because of spending all this time in the parallel world of online football chat rooms and forums.

Ji: May I suggest you stop all this living through online world of football, and take up a more healthy traditional pastime, somesing like World of Warcraft for example.

World of Warcraft

Pat: Great advice Ji. Sadly that’s all we have time for today.

Join us next time when we chat to a fan of Manchester City about a common disease facing his people called trophy depravation syndrome. We will also have rare images of Antonio Valencia smiling during ze celebration of a goal and an exclusive sneak preview of our fabulous 2010 Green and Gold official strip, modelled by our very own Bryan Glazer.

So until then, it’s au revoir from me and it’s annyeong from him.

Goodbye.

Park lays claim to central berth

Ed March 22, 2010 Tags: Opinion 2 comments

To state the obvious: Park Ji-Sung is not the new Paul Scholes. But after two outstanding games in central midfield against AC Milan and then Liverpool, Manchester United’s South Korean midfielder has offered Sir Alex Ferguson a new dimension. Normally consigned to the wing, Park has slotted effortlessly into Scholes’ old attacking midfield role.

Indeed, the Korean so successfully fulfilled the aim of nullifying Javier Msacherano’s defensive presence in the Liverpool midfield on Sunday that it is a wonder the former PSV Eindhoven hasn’t played the role for years. Against Milan, Park not only delivered his customary energy but such outstanding movement that the Italian’s defensive quartet spent the evening more akin to strangers than teammates.

Such is Park’s lot that the 29-year-old lost his place in Ferguson’s side for Fulham’s visit to Old Trafford following his goalscoring turn against Milan. It’s the story of an inconsistent United career that has yielded just 100 starting appearances in nearly five years at the club.

But as Scholes winds down a fabulous career, Park could force yet his way into a central berth that is as yet unsuccessfully claimed by contemporaries; Anderson promise unfulfilled, Darron Gibson largely disappointing.

The question mark that hangs over the player’s claims is a goalscoring record that boasts just 15 strikes during his United tenure. His ratio was only slightly better at PSV and a one in eight record at international level is hardly auspicious.

It’s a problem the low-key Korean captain recognises.

“It was a great feeling to score against Liverpool,” said the player, who also netted in United’s victory at the Emirates in January.

“Derby matches are very important games, so to score the winner in one is a fantastic feeling. Doing it in front of the Stretford End was unbelievable.

“I want to score more goals for United and it doesn’t matter who they are against. I know I should score more goals. I feel good scoring against the big teams like Arsenal, Milan and Liverpool, but I want that experience more often.”

Perhaps it is not without pertinence that the midfielder’s three goals this season have come against top class opposition.

Although Park’s presence bears little resemblance to the mesmeric touch and passing of Scholes few in the past generation have. Ferguson must eventually decide if a like-for-like replacement is even possible in the search for the Salford-born genius’ disciple.

Most importantly Ferguson trusts Park’s consistency of performance, even if the suspicion remains that the Korean’s quality is of a tier below his more lauded colleagues.

At least the player has dismissed the deeply insulting prevailing media view that his acquisition in 2005 was inspired by a desire to ‘sell more shirts’.

“I didn’t think that,” added Ferguson, who paid around £4 million for the player much to Eindhoven’s chagrin.

“When I went to see him play in those Champions League semi-finals for PSV Eindhoven in 2005 I thought this is a player who understands football.

“He is intelligent and disciplined and he can play different positions. Someone is always going to take a runner on something like selling shirts. But you could say that about every player we have signed.”

The challenge now for Park, who turns 30 next season, is to develop the final phase of a late-blossoming career: bit part winger or star turn in United’s engine room of the future.

Park: Rooney has grown

Ed March 16, 2010 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Park Ji-Sung says that Wayne Rooney has grown this season and developed into one of the best players in the world. South Korean Park, who has excelled in recent matches, says that the Scouser has always possessed the raw talent but experience is key to the forward’s 32 goals in all competitions this season.

“People regard him as one of the best players in the world and that is absolutely right,” Park said.

“He has scored so many goals this season it is incredible but everyone always knew he had the talent and ability to do it, so it is not a surprise.

“He was young before. He just needed experience. This season he has grown up.”

Should Rooney score 42 goals, with eight Premier League matches and up to five Champions League ties remaining, he will match Cristiano Ronaldo’s haul from the 2007/8 season. The striker also scored six goals for England this season.

Park back, Tošić stays, Ljajić joins

Ed November 27, 2009 Tags: , , Shorts 4 comments

Ji-Sung Park made a long awaited return in Manchester United’s defeat to Besiktas on Wednesday night. Following a two-month spell on the sidelines with a knee injury the South Korea’s return is a welcome sight for Sir Alex Ferguson and supporters alike. Unsuprisingly, the winger was delighted to make a first Old Trafford appearance since the derby in September.

“It’s good to be back, my knee is 100% OK now and I feel fully fit,” Park told manutd.com.

“We lost against Besiktas, which was a shame. But, for me, I was ready to play after playing twice for the national team.”

“We had many good chances but failed to score. The young players showed great potential. They will be much stronger now because of this experience, and hopefully next time out against Wolfsburg we will be able to confirm ourselves as winners of the group.”

Park, who made 40 appearances for United last season including a starting role in the Champions League final, will now battle it out for a place on the wing with Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Giggs and Nani.

Indeed, Obertan’s eye-catching performance at Old Trafford, and Antonio Valencia’s growing confidence, has placed pressure on the South Korean to hit the ground running.

“Obertan and Valencia are good players,” Park agreed. “But I think I can also put in good performances.”

And while Nani’s form has been so sporadic Ferguson left the Portguguese winger out of matches againast Everton and Besiktas, Zoran Tošić has signalled his intention to stay at Old Trafford. Linked with a loan move to Steve McClaren’s FC Twente in Holland, the Serbian’s agent confirmed that Tošić will fight for his place. The winger scored twice as United’s reserves beat Hull City 2-1 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Old Trafford insiders are believed to be ready to bring the multi-talented Serbian midfielder Adem Ljajić, 17, to the club in January. Signed with Tosic at the begining of the year, Ljajić was loaned back to Partizan Belgrade to gain experience. But a series of stand-out performances in the Europa League and a run in the Serbian under-21 side means that Ferguson will try for a work permit ahead of a January Old Trafford debut.