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.
31 thoughts on “Three Lungs departs”
Best of luck Park, you gave your all for the club, you’ll be fondly remembered at Old Trafford.
United might not of lost a world-class player but we’ve definetely lost a brilliant football chant.So for one last time when QPR come to Old Trafford….’Park,Park wherever you may be….’
Good Look Park, you didn’t disappoint despite the naysayers. You deserve a good testimonial after you retire!
United paid £4m for Park in 2005 and sold him in 2012 for £2.5m. Not bad I’d say
Can’t help being pedantic but “a Champions League winners medal in 2008… But there was disappointment too, with the player left out of Ferguson’s 2009 Champions League final matchday party.” is the wrong way round!
Park was left out of the 2008 final squad (remember him celebrating in his suit with Pique and Saha?), a decision Fergie claimed was one of the hardest he ever made, yet bafflingly started on the right against Barca in 2009 when Sylvinho was there for the taking.
Hang on a minute pal, there’s only one Sid on here and that’s me
Now, now… don’t be so hasty… let’s hear what he has to say… maybe it’s time we had a “New Sid” around here.
Apparently Park says he turned down a new contract and more money to join QPR. They are more ambitious…
How bad is that?
hopefully the new sid is a right wing fascist monarchy loving son of thatcher
I doubt they offered him a new contract, he signed one last August which was meant to keep him at Old Trafford till 2013. He only got 17 Premier League appearances last season and at 31 still feels he has games left in the tank so in fair play to him for moving to somewhere so he can play more often.
More ambitious is a bit of a stretch. They are trying to go from a side with the smallest stadium capacity in the PL and which could have been relegated on the final day of the season to one which won’t be.
i think his other offers were from other clubs
I just don’t think recent events have been very encouraging. Ok CR wanted to leave for his boyhood club I get that. But since Rooney handed in his transfer request, things have gone sour. A lot of our promising youth players have decided to leave and we have failed to attract any world class players – whatever the reasons may be. With the Glazers at. The helm and SAF soon to retire, is this the beginning of the end?
He’d fit right in if that was the case
good luck park, not the best technically but 1 of the smartest off the ball runners in the prem. great reception awaits when u come back with qpr
“New Sid” is wondering… “what the fuck are they on about?
“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”
It’s just the sheer audacity of the man, thinking he can waltz in here calling himself Sid
19: ” just don’t think recent events have been very encouraging.”
What ? Losing the EPL on goal difference – with five points lost to dodgy refereeing ?
What ? Winning the EPL four of the past six years ?
Do you seriously expect UTD to win everything, every year ? Like I wrote the other day, this is another example of a “deluded sense of entitlement”.
Park “did a job” for TheLads but his time has now gone; SAF is getting a new team in place. Will it be as good as the 2008 double winners – who knows ? But the crafty OldFootieKnight seems fairly confident – he’s proven before that he knows a LOT more than any of us.
There is clear lack of communication between Park and Fergie, Park reluctant to ask more game time, Park’s agency said he took slight pay cut to move out and Team doesn’t exactly want to ship him out but Park want to play so there is no choice. I guess, Fergie doesn’t expect this sort of event at all.
Probably good time to move, Think he will play well in new club.
Get a new team in place with what funds? Look at what has happened since the Glazers have taken over. We lost 1 of the best players in the world, got 80m pounds, and never used that money to really replace the quality that we lost. Instead of bringing in a world class player and maybe spending a bit more, SAF has tried to bring in young promising players who for the most part were never going to be in the same league as those players who other teams signed. We have had plenty of opportunities to sign quality players in the last 4 years and signed mediocrity instead – or utter shyte in the case of Bebe and Obertan. In some cases like with Valencia, SAF lucked out but how many signings since the Glazers have taken over have really panned out. Meanwhile, while SAF’s hands are tied, our rivals continue to bring in players that we should have been trying to sign. Why didn’t we try and get David Silva or Juan Mata or Van der Vaart or bid for Modric or Sneijder and I could go on and on.
Instead of having the extra funds available for transfers that we used to have before the Glazers came on board, now that money that could have been used by SAF to sign better quality players is going to cover the debt that the Glazers brought to the club when they bought it.
Hey I know all the titles we have won in the last few years and the fact that before this year’s CL we were in 3 out of 4 finals and only lost to Barca in 2 of them. I also realize that SAF is the main reason why we keep doing so well despite the economic burdens placed on the club by our owners. But how long can that last? Our performance in the CL was dire and showed that we are nowhere near the top clubs in Europe. We could have won the EPL and we were close yes. But City practically threw it away and then we followed suit and clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and Pool were nowhere near their best. I expect that to change and I also expect our situation to get worse. We’ve lost several young players lately who don’t want to stay with the club and our best player almost left a year ago. What happens when SAF finally retires?
I want the best for United and hope we win titles despite the Glazers not giving a shit about the club. But how long can SAF perform magic under these conditions?
Exactly. There will be a time when SAF will retire. Then watch the Glazers sweat ,as they find out the hard way how SAF did so well despite limited budgets .Our onfield success over the past few years has masked the effects of the Glazer ownership policies from both the Glazers themselves, and some United supporters who think” the Glazers are good owners because they dont interfere with day to day running of the club.” …See what happens if any experienced (big) manager takes SAFs place and expects a bigger budget from the most profitable club in the world…
I read this expecting some interesting football analyis and sharp exchanges from the usual suspects, but what I discover is this wonderful arrival of the `other Sid’ and the identity crisis it has created.
19: “I also realize that SAF is the main reason why we keep doing so well despite the economic burdens placed on the club by our owners. But how long can that last?”
Turn back the clock to 2005 – SAF had just signed a cheap-o goal-keeper in Edwin; an unknown central defender and a little left back whose first game was so embarrassing that he was subbed off at half-time. It had been three years since UTD had won the EPL and no one (no one !) thought that another title was in the cards – let alone four in six years (etc., etc.). The OldFootieKnight knows what he’s doing BUT he’s not always right – his big expenditure of the money from CR7 came the year before Cristiano went to his dream club – and we all know that Dimmy was a bust (one good half-season in eight !). I don’t understand the purchase of Ashley Young and it seems that Anderson has been a flop while Hargreaves was probably a gamble but it paid off in his contributions in 2008. The purchase of Bebe was bemusingly weird and, no doubt, “dodgy” but what about Nani, AV7, MrJones, BigManSmalling, and Chicharito ? “Relatively cheap” buys and damned good players with huge up-side. All done within a set of financial parameters that have little to do with Glazernomics and a lot to do with the club’s longstanding “policy” of keeping wages in line with income.
“Why didn’t we try and get David Silva or Juan Mata or Van der Vaart or bid for Modric or Sneijder ”
I have no idea but, face facts, transfers are a business deal and not a kid-in-a-candy-store grab-bag operation. Of those five players – the first two Silva and Mata would be good additions but would you play them instead of Nani and/or AV7 ? Van der Vaart is a legend-in-hisown-mind, Modric is hugely over-rated, while Sneijder was injured a large part of last year. Who’s to say that KagawaBunga won’t be better than all of them ? He might even be as good as Mesut Ozul – but Ozul only had eyes for CR7’s “dream team”.
Just remember, you don’t always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need. From what I can see – and I’m an optimistic “glass half-full kinda guy” – SAF needs to make one more addition to this squad. I’ve wanted to see Daniele De Rossi in the red shirt for about six years but I also recognize that he’s essentially unobtainable. I’d happily settle for a healthy DarrenFletcherinho, in his “football genius” mode of 2008/9 but, that too, seems unlikely nowadays. So, I reckon that we might just have to settle with watching MrJones learn how to play alongside Michael Carrick.
The nicknames you come up with! Yeah they’re rubbish mate!
If SAF plays Headless chicken Jones in central MF this season, I’ll be turning off the TV. Are you bloody serious? You’d be satisfied with Carrick and Jones as our 2 CMs? United will be the new Liverpool then. I know SAF won’t subject United supporters to that torture.
Cheers Park. I had high hopes for him after some sublime performances for PSV in the CL but alas Fergie turned him into a donkey. Not the most technical of players but his off the ball movement and availability for a pass was the highlight of his game imo.
Good luck Park. Me and Evra will miss you.
19: “Are you bloody serious? You’d be satisfied with Carrick and Jones as our 2 CMs?”
Yep, I’m “bloody serious”. Carrick has arguably been UTD’s most “irreplaceable” player for the past six seasons; MrJones has just turned 20. From my view – in front of the TV in Toronto – those two more than half-fill my glass.
You seem to forget that in 2006 (?), the midfield duo was SirRyanGiggs and John O’Shea – not exactly Gattuso/Pirlo or Xavi/Busquets – but TheLads did just fine. There’s more to the game than “names”.
MrJones has a very bright future – but not at CB or RB; he’s incredibly energetic and skilled for a “big lunk” which is just what I’d want in a 20 year-old who has the tools to be shaped into a great box-to-box midfielder. MrJones is very different kind of player in comparison with Michael Carrick, who is calm in possession, reads the game very well, and passes with great accuracy in keeping control of the ball. I also think that Michael Carrick is a much better player when he’s not partnering TheGingerNinja. And, I’m “serious” about that, too.
As for John, he shouldn’t be used as a MF, He is quality raw martial but his positioning and game reading is nowhere near first team starter for MUFC. Look at the game and watch where John located at each situations. He is toddler as a footballer and central MF role is most difficult position to learn.
As for Park, Nothing new large fan base criticize him, his whole career is filled with casual footy fan don’t know you need to use your brain to watch football game, me included.
Park look very ordinary even most opposition players tend to be not rate him, It is not easy task to understand what he doing on the pitch. but there is always few pick him up and those who rate him as a player is his managers.
Sorry Denton but I think you’ve been watching too much hockey over there because no one with a footballing brain can say Jones is a good CM.
you’re a fucking dumbass. we got knocked out of europe in the group stages that season, lost to liverpool timidly in the fa cup, were comfortably behind chelsea in the league, and focussed on the carling cup, which we went on to win. this was all despite saha and ronaldo having a great second half to the season.
jones is energetic, and decent technically. he’s best at centre back and that’s where he should be allowed to develop. he just doesn’t have the tactical discipline to play in centre midfield, and his marauding runs are best from centre back, where there aren’t 2 guys closing him down the second he gets the ball.
gd luck park, you done a great 7 years 4 utd, scored brilliant goal when it matters… and you always been remembered as mr oxygen 4 utd… never say die attitude, with both feet on d ground. verry hardworking players.. tq 4 the great achivement at utd… best of luck 4 u…