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Can Park Start for Manchester United?

Posted July. 19, 2006 03:01,   


Park Ji-sung, a 25-year-old Manchester United player, will depart for Britain on July 23.

An official from FS Corporation, Park’s management agency, stated, “Manchester called Park Ji-sung on the night of July 17. It requested him to postpone his scheduled departure from July 18 to July 23 and then join the squad,” explaining why Park was leaving five days later.

It is reported that this was ordered by Manchester United Coach Sir Alex Ferguson, who is currently adjusting the preseason schedule in the Republic of South Africa.

Ferguson originally planned to call the players after dividing them into three groups. He divided his players accordingly to their respective national teams based on those who did not play at the World Cup Germany, those who played in the group stage of the World Cup, and those who advanced to the final round, and gave them their needed rest.

Wales player Ryan Giggs, 33, England’s Paul Scholes, 32, and others who did not play in the World Cup started the preseason early and are currently training and playing friendly matches in South Africa. Park and Serbia and Montenegro national Nemanja Vidic, both who had their respective teams eliminated in the group phase, were scheduled to join the team in the second group. Players who advanced past the round of 16 such as Dutch Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, French Mikael Silvestre, and other English players were supposed to join last.

However, with one day before calling the second group of players including Park, Ferguson ordered them to come with the last group.

Currently, Manchester United is reconstructing the team in full throttle.

Park’s close teammate Van Nistelrooy has already decided to leave for Spain’s Real Madrid. However, the team is coming back to life with the return of other veteran players.

British sports channel Sky Sports reported that Manchester United, currently on tour in South Africa, is getting back on track with the comeback of players such as Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Scholes, and Argentine Gabriel Heinze, 28.

In an interview with British tabloid “The Sun,” Giggs, a team’s spiritual leader delightedly said, “You always expect new faces, and the manager`s hoping to strengthen. But with Ole, Scholesey, and Gabby coming back, it will be like three new signings.” In particular, Solskjaer, who had been off the field for three years due to an injury, scored two goals against the Orlando Pirates, the first match of the South African tour played on July 16, and forecasted signs of an impressive comeback.

Solskjaer is a seasoned player who has played in 333 games and scored 115 goals since 1996.

It seems that Scholes, who left the game for a while due to an eye problem in the middle of last season, will soon return. Scholes played in 490 Manchester United matches and scored 130 goals. Heinze, who also played for the Argentine national squad, will return and strengthen the team’s defensive line.

In addition, Manchester is also seeking to sign Italian talent such as defensive midfielders Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, as well as Luca Toni to replace the departing Van Nistelrooy.

Under such team rebuilding, it appears that Park will return to the time when he first joined the team when his position shifted between being a starter and reserve.

With the possibility of Giggs playing midfield or wing-forward and Scholes returning, Park’s competition for a starting spot is predicted to become much more fierce.

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com