With Manchester United failing to win this season’s Premier League, the jury is sure to be out on a number of Sir Alex Ferguson’ charges over the summer. With a few players sure to be shown the door at Old Trafford in the coming weeks, should the dependable Park Ji-Sung be among them?
Park has been at Manchester United since 2005, and it’s fair to say fans and critics alike didn’t rate him too highly in his first season or two at the club. However, the South Korean has proved a key asset for the Red Devils in the past few seasons, particularly in the Champions’ League, with Sir Alex Ferguson deploying him in European games for his incredible work-rate.
Having played a part in just 17 of the 38 games in this season’s Premiership though, is Park still good enough to be in the squad?
Well statistics show that the ever-working midfielder has only ever played more games on two occasions in his seven seasons in Manchester. Like past campaigns, it was in Europe where he was used most, playing a part in every game in continental competition. Yes, United weren’t at their best in the Champions’ League this term or indeed in the Europa League, but Park wasn’t to blame for that, he did his job efficiently as usual.
The problems lie elsewhere in the squad. Most of the defence are still young and learning their trade, and there clearly isn’t enough flair in the midfield area, something United need to strengthen on for next season. Park is in there to do his job as a tenacious hard-working player, it’s up to those around him to provide the goals.
That’s not to say he doesn’t score goals though, because when Park scores, he has a habit of doing it when United need it most. Two goals that will forever live in the memory of Reds’ fans are the two goals against Arsenal and Chelsea respectively, both in the Semi-finals of the Champions’ League, and overall, the South Korean is still as important to Ferguson as he ever was.
He’s everything an all-round midfielder should be, and should he be shown the door before next season begins in earnest; United would be losing the type of player that is rare in football nowadays. It’s fair to say he will never be an ever-present in the Manchester United team, but Park knows the meaning of utility player inside out, and he’s a master at disrupting opponents’ rhythm when selected.
Park Ji-Sung, we salute you.
By Sean Monaghan @Sean_Monaghan_