Posted October. 06, 2005 07:16,
There is a saying in English football that you`re only as good as your last game.
Park Ji-Sung may not yet have encountered that phrase, but on the evidence of his outstanding display against Fulham on Saturday, Park has now made the transition from spare part to crucial component in Manchester United`s attacking machine.
After the disappointment of being left on the bench against Benfica in midweek, Park delivered the perfect riposte in 90 scintillating minutes at Craven Cottage.
The Korean star was involved in all three United goals as they overcame Fulham 3-2.
Although the Reds` defending offered further cause for concern, with Rio Ferdinand culpable for Fulham`s second, manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted by Park`s performance.
"I thought Ji-Sung Park was fantastic, involved in all three goals," the United manager said.
Park`s pace, movement and awareness of team-mates stole the show as Ferguson ditched his controversial 4-3-3 system in favour of a conventional 4-4-2.
Crucially, the change in tactics brought Wayne Rooney into advanced, central positions on a regular basis.
And it was in such an area that Park `s cute pass found the England youngster for the second goal.
That was sandwiched between the Koreans penalty-winning burst into the Fulham box and his unselfish square ball to create the winner for two-goal Ruud van Nistelrooy.
For Park, whose progress at Old Trafford has slowed in recent weeks following his summer move from PSV Eindhoven, Saturday was a major tonic.
No matter how good the player, it always takes time to adjust to new surroundings, especially when they must learn a new language.
Significantly, Park is earning the trust and respect of his team-mates, with Rooney full of praise for the Korean.
"He had a hand in all three goals and put a great first time ball through for me for my goal," the striker said.
"I`ve seen how good he is in training and when he runs at defenders they just don`t know what to do because his feet are so quick."
Park links up this week with his South Korea colleagues as they continue their World Cup preparations.
Doubtless new manager Dick Advocaat noted with glee Park`s contribution against Fulham ahead of the friendly against Iran on October 12.
Meanwhile, Ferguson and his assistant Carlos Queiroz will spend the international break considering how to claw back the 10 points that separate United from pace-setters Chelsea, who thrashed Liverpool on Sunday.
The words `4-4-2` and `Park Ji-Sung` may well feature in their deliberations.