Contribution by Harry Mills
The return from injury of Park Ji-Sung sees Manchester United welcome back another midfielder into their ranks for the season finale.
Park has been absent since the turn of the year but is in line to be fit for Man United’s game this weekend against West Ham at Upton Park.
With United still competing on three fronts; the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, the return of such an industrial player will surely aid their quest for success this season.
Park has mustered only 16 appearances so far this campaign for United. In those games, he has scored four times including a crucial winner in United’s 1-0 defeat of Arsenal as well as a brace in a 2-1 victory over Wolves.
United signed Park from PSV for a moderate £4 million back in the summer of 2005. Cynics blasted this signing as a commercial ploy by United to increase their popularity in Asia. Now into his sixth season at Old Trafford, Park has proved his worth.
It has been an indifferent season for The Red Devils. Injuries to the likes of Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves have left the United midfield looking unsubstantial at times. Park’s absence has been overshadowed by the loss of these players and the South Korean will be keen to focus on his future at the club.
Park’s recent retirement from international football following the 2011 Asian Cup is evidence alone of his desire to prolong his domestic career with United.
He may not provide the flair of Nani or the drive of Anderson but his energetic and disciplined approach has made him a major player for Sir Alex Ferguson. Park is often entrusted with responsibilities for vital games; a role he relishes and often fulfils.
In the first leg of United’s Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich, after 70 minutes, Park made way for Dimitar Berbatov with United holding a professional 1-0 lead.
Though Park was not at his best going forward, it was no coincidence that United had managed to keep Munich at bay. Park sticks to his defensive duties astutely and works hard to provide an attacking outlet.
Seven minutes after Park’s withdrawal, Franck Ribery scored the first of Munich’s two goals.
In the second leg, had Park been playing on the right hand side of midfield, supporting Rafael defensively, would the Brazilian have made two unnecessary fouls and received his marching orders? Of course, this is only speculation but the fact is that Park does not get the credit he deserves.
Park’s contract is due to expire next summer, so the South Korean will want to ensure he earns himself a new contract, or finish his glistening United career on a high.
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