Date: 12th May 2011 at 3:25am
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Ji-Sung Park, or Park Ji-Sung, is probably the least likely of any United player to receive the undivided attention of a blogger.

The South Korean is a player that proves how useless passing chalkboards can be. Instead in order to analyse Park one must instead simply watch him perform on a weekly basis to gauge just how important he is to Sir Alex Ferguson.

I remember not being a big fan of Park during his first few years at United. I think this had more to do with my limited knowledge of the game and understanding of how crucial his contributions were in spite of a poor goal return. Most supporters forget that during his final season at PSV Eindhoven Park was nominated for the 2005 UEFA Best Forward award with players like Andriy Shevchenko, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o. Not the usual group of players in which one would usually include Park.

Park signed in 2005 and became the first Asian player to captain United when he replaced Ryan Giggs during a Champions League group stage match versus Lille. While Park was unable to quite maintain his goal scoring form from his final year at PSV Eindhoven, he became Sir Alex Ferguson’s ace of spades for the big matches. Name a big match from the past five seasons and tell me that Park did not play a part in it. The one obvious exception is the 2008 Champions League Final, but that match aside, Park plays in every match against the top clubs in England and Europe.

The South Korean is the first player after Edwin van der Sar on Sir Alex’s team sheet for a big game. He has all of the qualities needed for a big match: relentless energy, skill, pace, tackling ability and most importantly remembers his defensive responsibilities. Park is to industry as Nani is to artistry. And it should not come as a surprise that Park’s peak in form has correlated with Nani’s decreasing influence in big matches. One would be hard pressed to recall many times when Park got caught in the wrong half of the pitch and cost United a goal.

The thing about Park is, he is an easy player to forget about when one thinks about the talent at Manchester United. While he lacks the flash of Nani, the striking prowess of Rooney or Valencia’s unbelievable ability to play a perfect cross in every situation, he provides the glue that keeps all of the component parts of United together.

When Patrice Evra gets caught upfield, who covers his left back position? Ji-Sung Park. When Giggs charges forward to be a part of a counterattack, who covers his spot in the middle? Ji-Sung Park. The South Korean possesses an equally important talent, a superior footballing brain. He knows the exact right positions to take on the pitch at any given time. And that will be invaluable in the Champions League Final versus Barcelona in a few weeks.

While Park’s star in the United constellation may be overlooked as others like Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs continue to sparkle, supporters would do well to remember Park Ji-Sung’s contributions this season. I hate to think how the Chelsea match last weekend would United have been without Park’s unbelievable work rate.

Park, Park wherever you may be…


11 responses to “Perhaps now this unsung hero will be more widely praised”

  1. in1voice says:

    I totally agree. Park is a hero and a role model. Hope he can continue to do this for many more seasons to come, before age catches up on him. He must start against Barca, and hopefully SAF rests him for the next 2 games… though he doesn’t look like he needs any rest.

  2. yahyahtourebleh says:


  3. jonathan says:

    As much as it pains me to say that Nani should be start as a sub for the CL final, it’s because Park really needs to be starting alongside Valencia on the wings.
    I think we need to put forth a positive formation against Barca; but we can’t be naive, and if we opt for two forwards, then our wingers have to be Park and Valencia who play both sides of the pitch. As you said earlier, Park in particular will even know the right time when to play out of position if it means making sure there’s no gaps on the pitch.

  4. David Watts says:

    Great game on Sunday by Park, but not getting carried away. Undoubtedly a great club man, and one who can do a job and play to a plan. Stretching it to say he is the first name on the teamsheet in the big games after VDS….I think Rio and Vidic would take that honour, closely followed by Rooney and Fletcher.

    Fergie tend to get the spine of his team sorted first before looking at the flanks.

    If you take a closer look at the Arsenal game Mr Park is the one who loses possession Vs Ramsey and then is caught ball watching standing 10yds away from Ramsey when the ball is cut back.

    I also think that in possession he can be struck by a bit of indecision.

    Having said that, Barca are not hugely physical and United need mobile players who can run all day, nick the ball in a tackle, track the runners and be discaplined – Park and Fletcher are both certainties.

    The Triangle of Xavi, Busquettes and Pique is a real strength of Barca – they ping the ball around and suck in their markers allowing Iniesta, Messi and the overlapping Alves the space to work.

    If Rooney, Hernandez, Park and Fletcher can disrupt these three it will be a big plus – Cutting out simple mistakes and keeping possession will also be huge. Finally, the most crucial thing – If we get a chance we MUST take it!

    • nachmel says:

      just 1 note if I may:

      the goal conceded at Arsenal was – by some 80% – Vida´s fault (no matter how I like Vida – true captain).
      Just check the whole situatio again from the VERY beginning & you´ll find out that we have gifted the ball to gooners as lightly as possible … (… Vida´s bad pass/loss of the ball atm, when we were in control of it & no forchecking at all, was so unexpactable/unpredicatble from others, that plenty of players were on their way up front, out of their defensive positions & with only a small chance of getting the ball back properly + gooners did they job well at that moment, like it or not – I don´t :-)) )

      this is only my personal view of the mentioned situation.

      Regarding JI – excellent fighter, great team player, smthg you do not together these days very often. … wherever he may be … :-))

  5. Sir Ryan Giggs says:

    Very true, he does get over looked but always does a job for the team.

    As for the champions league final I would really like us to start with a 4-5-1 formation. With Park, Fletch and Carrick in the middle along with Nani and Valencia on the wings, with Rooney up top on his own.

  6. jose says:

    All you have to do is watch the games against Chelsea in the CL, Both Valencia and Park made it impossible for the wide players of Chelsea to have an impact on the game. every time it looked like chelsea had good possession out wide they had 2 players to beat. the fullback and either Park or Valencia, I have no doubt in my mind that Park and Valencia will start in the wide positions against Barca, Rooney and Hernandez must also start, Back 4 is a constant with the only question being Right back but i think a fit Rafa will get it. I believe Giggs will start as his performances in the middle have been breathtaking this season, I struggle to remember the last year he was as consistent. That leaves the question of Carrick or Fletcher in the other central position. I guess the 3 possible games left for Fletcher to prove his fitness will answer that. My recollection of Carrick’s pass for City’s goal in the FA cup makes me think it may be Fletcher.

  7. Jeff says:

    @DavidW– True, park missed his mark there. If I recall the circumstance, he was just switched from his wide position to central when the sub was made. Certainly lapse in concentration to not mark properly. But, I also think that game was trash in terms of our standards. Even if Park had not missed his marking and they didn’t score, the team didn’t deserve a tie. The entire team looked lackluster that day and coming on the heels of a CL game earlier in the week, it was a lot to ask for.

    On par, we get a lot more from Park than the minor errors here and there, but often the same daft touch by Rooney, Chicharito, or Nani (and sometimes even from Giggs) are quickly forgotten, while we critically judge and cringe at Park’s. It’s a perception, but I would take the good and bad of parks whole over Nani’s any day and twice on any big game.

  8. Bill says:

    Park spelt backwards is…. Krap. That´s what he is!

  9. McGuinness says:


    Son, taking you literally, you’re a troll, and know nothing about football, if you really believe that.

    Can you spell w-a-n-k-e-r?

  10. hadi nizami says:

    alex ferguson recently called park the most intelligent and tactically aware fotballer he had ever seen. enough said….