One of the most eye-catching performances for us over the weekend’s huge victory over Chelsea was the performance of Park Ji-Sung who once again showed the kind of hunger and commitment that’s required when it comes to the big games.
Time and time again the little Korean has starred for the club in the big games. Yes sometimes players may only get praised when they score goals like Park has done from time to time, but tactically sometime hard-working players who go about their job quietly don’t get the praise that they deserve.
Of course every team needs a Park, who in recent years has become invaluable to the side. He may not start every game for the club, but in the big-games where Sir Alex Ferguson needs the team to get a win, whether it be in the Premiership or Champions League – Park often gets chosen to start.
It’s quite easy to forget at times that when Park was first signed by the club, many football fans in general looked down on the move thinking that Sir Alex had only signed the midfielder from PSV Eindhoven for commercial reasons.
After all that’s what the British Media were suggesting, as the club in their eyes signed Park to sell more shirts in Asia where there are alot of United fans.
Of course, there were more clubs than just United looking at Park as during his time at PSV under Guus Hiddink, he had become one of the Dutch team’s best players. In one of his last games for PSV, he shone in a 3-1 victory at the Philips Stadion over AC Milan in the second leg of a Champions League semi-final tie between the sides.
Hiddink’s men just missed out on making the final that year – which ultimately Liverpool won of course – but it was a game that could not have personally gone better for Park. That performance in particular probably convinced Sir Alex that Park was good to enough to play for us and the rest they say is history.
Very quickly Park was able to adapt to the pace of the Premiership and his work-rate, eye for goal and unselfish play for the team is now finally beginning to earn Park praise from non-United fans.
Perhaps it’s because on paper he’s not a star name or the fact that he doesn’t get the goals that say a Lampard/Gerrard does, but in terms of what he brings to the team – there are few better midfielder’s in the Premiership than Park who you would trust in that position.
His performance against Chelsea sums him up well. His effort to track back and win the ball whilst being quick to launch a counter attack was one of the reasons why we won the game. The pass for Javier Hernandez’s goal was great and although David Luiz got a slight touch onto it to perfectly divert it into the path of everyone’s favourite Mexican, Park’s quick-thinking caught Luiz off-guard.
In the build-up to the game, everyone seemed to be talking about Chelsea’s midfield and how their African stars Michael Essien and Jon-Obi Mikel would get on against the likes of Park, Giggs and Carrick. Yes Chelsea did miss Ramires in the first half, but Park never gave Essien or Mikel the chance to get comfortable in the game and was like a little terrier in midfield.
He could even have got a goal but for a simply brilliant save from Petr Cech in goal for the Blues. In the end it didn’t matter as from the resulting corner, a Giggs cross found Nemanja Vidic in the centre for our second of the game which effectively killed the game of after 23 minutes.
It should be interesting to see if Park starts for us in the Champions League final at Wembley. After all Park has done well against Barcelona in the past, playing well over two legs in the semi-finals back in 2008.
The game at Old Trafford was probably one of his finest for the club as in a game where we had to win and stop the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry & Co of getting a priceless away goal, Park held his nerve and worked his socks of.
Of course sadly for him, he was left out of the squad by Sir Alex against Chelsea for the final in what our boss called one of his most heartbreaking decisions that he’s had to make in the job. To his credit Park started the 2009 final versus Barcelona but never really got into the game as sadly for us the better team won on the night.
It should be interesting to see whether or not Park does start in the final this year. I suspect that given Paul Scholes’ ageing legs that he probably will start the game. But if he doesn’t you can rest assured that Park will make an appearance and whatever the situation in the game he will do his best for the cause.
By Adam Dennehey –@ADennehey87
Man United keen on signing 2 players on loan to replace Marcus Rashford
Manchester United keen to loan Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani
Manchester United are keen on signing Odion Ighalo and Islam Slimani on loan to provide cover for the injured Marcus Rashford. (h/t Sky Sports)
Ighalo plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League while Slimani is currently on loan at Monaco from Leicester City.
Both players have done well for their current clubs so far. Ighalo has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Shanghai whereas Slimani has registered 7 goals and 7 assists in 14 appearances for Monaco.
Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are also interested in Slimani (h/t Daily Star).
Ighalo has a better record out of the two in the Premier League. With the Chinese Super League likely to be indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic gripping the nation, it remains to be seen if the player will be allowed to travel.
Low-key but effective?
The injury to Marcus Rashford has left United without a reliable striker upfront. United have played both Liverpool and Burnley since the striker’s injury and have failed to hit the net in both games.
Given the nature of the January transfer window, it makes sense for the club to pursue a loan deal for an established forward until the summer.
Ighalo and Slimani are in their 30s but both players are physically imposing and are capable of playing as a target man upfront.
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United are currently 5th in the table with 14 games left to go. We face Chelsea in the league in February, which will give us a chance to close the gap on a top-four spot.
Transfer blow for Man United as £13m difference could stop the deal for Portugese star
Bruno Fernandes transfer to Manchester United at the risk of collapse
The transfer of Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon is at the risk of collapse with Sporting Lisbon holding out for £55million, according to Portuguese station TVI24 (h/t Metro).
The 25-year-old midfielder has informed the Portuguese club of his wish to move to Old Trafford and has already agreed on personal terms with United. Sporting are unhappy with United’s opening offer of £42m, which is £13m short of the Portuguese club’s expectation.
United’s offer contains a number of add-on clauses that can eventually take the deal to £60million. Sporting, however, deem the conditions improbable and are seeking a greater fee upfront.
Sporting are unwilling to drop their asking price as United have failed to include a player in exchange as a part of the deal.
The Portuguese side were willing to accept a lower fee had a player been included. However, neither Andreas Pereira or Marcos Rojo were willing to move to the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Fernandes played in the 2-0 loss to arch-rivals Benfica in what could be the player’s last match for Sporting.
The Portuguese club have demanded a minimum of £55.3million as a guaranteed payment. They also expect United to include bonuses that are more achievable.
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Sporting will have to pay 50% of the sell-on fee to Fernandes’ previous club Sampdoria and will look to get as much as they can from United.
Man Utd agree on contract terms with midfielder who could be signed for £51m
Manchester United have reportedly agreed on terms with Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United have reportedly agreed on terms with Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Sun)
The 25-year-old has played 25 times for Sporting this season and has scored 13 goals and 10 assists. (h/t Whoscored)
United were to make their first formal offer for the player. It is being reported now that the deal has already been agreed upon. (h/t Sun)
It’s claimed that Fernandes has been offered a deal nearing £100,000-a-week at United.
The signing of the Sporting skipper should provide the United midfield with numbers and an attacking impetus.
The midfielder has an £85million release clause in his contract but Old Trafford bosses have been working to drive the price down. The club were also open to offering two players to bring the price down. (h/t Sun)
Fernandes was part of the Portuguese squad that won the UEFA Nations League in 2019.
He has won 19 caps for the Portuguese national side and has scored 2 goals since making his debut in 2017.
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United next play Manchester City in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals at the Etihad on Wednesday.
The Red Devils trail 3-1 from the first leg as they aim to get to their first final under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
Man United veteran snubs extension and demands immediate transfer
Ashley Young rejects one-year contract extension offer
Veteran star Ashley Young has rejected a one-year extension on his contract at Manchester United. (h/t Sky Sports)
The 34-year-old’s contract at United expires at the end of the season and the player looks likely to leave in the summer. Inter Milan are said to be interested in securing Young’s services (h/t Sky Sports).
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is keen to keep the player at Old Trafford. Young is one of the leaders in the United dressing room and has the versatility to play in multiple positions.
Antonio Conte has been a long term admirer of Young and even tried to sign him when he was at Chelsea. Conte is ready to offer the play an 18-month contract at Inter with a considerable pay rise.
Young joined United in the summer of 2011 and has gone on to make 261 appearances for the English giants.
He took over as captain from Antonio Valencia at the beginning of this season.
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Young is keen on moving to Inter immediately rather than waiting for the summer (h/t Daily Mail). He has been left angered by United’s refusal to sanction the deal in January.
United are in the midst of an injury crisis and losing Young would deal a harsh blow to whatever little chances we have this season.