Go to contents

What`s Behind Park Ji-sung`s Slump This Season?

Posted October. 01, 2010 22:33,   


Manchester United beat Valencia, 1-0, in a Champions League group game at Mestalla Stadium in Spain Thursday, but midfielder Park Ji-sung looked gloomy. The 29-year-old Korean played all 90 minutes but was hardly impressive.

His pass success ratio was just 68 percent, lower than his team’s average of 73 percent. Park often lost the ball and looked like he lacked confidence.

United coach Alex Ferguson scolded Park in the game. Afterwards, the player said in a news interview, “I’m not satisfied with my performance this season. I don’t know what the reason (behind my slump) is.”

Park has failed to perform early in the season unlike the past. One British media outlet said he seems to be playing alone and lagging behind, calling Park far inadequate to become an option for United’s strikers. His slump looks all the more regrettable since his rivals for his position, including Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs, are out with injuries.

Perhaps Park’s biggest problem is his lackluster offense. The player is to the Korean national team what Cristiano Ronaldo is to Real Madrid and Wayne Rooney is to United.

As national team captain, Park managed to score in every crisis situation and enabled Korea to survive and advance in the World Cup. He scored five goals in World Cup qualifiers and one against Greece in South Africa. Through aggressive penetration and sharp passing, he also invigorated the Korean offense.

At United, Park has focused on an assisting role, including on defense and team play, rather than offense. MBC soccer commentator Seo Hyeong-wook said, “This is a result of combining the role the Korean team wishes from Park and his own strategy to survive at Manchester United, which has the top players in the world.”

The problem is that United faces a new situation this season. Rooney, who filled the scoring vacuum left by Ronaldo last season with 34 goals, is in a slump so the team desperately needs all the attacking help it can get.

Ferguson has also repeatedly stressed that strikers should score 10 goals or more per season.

Despite such a situation, Park’s offensive capacity has suffered compared with his performances early in the season in previous years.

Shin Moon-seon, a sports professor at Myongji University in Seoul, said, “Park has lost his calmness due to an excessive burden on offense. He rushes too much on offense and lacks confidence.”

“He’s apparently come under heavier pressure in the face of harsh criticism by the media and fans.”

SBS soccer commentator Park Moon-sung said, “Failure to prepare for this season is the reason for his slump.”

Park had trouble controlling his condition due to irregular playing time early in the season, moving back and forth from the national team for games such as those of the World Cup.

He also said in an interview, “Since I’ve come to play unexpectedly, it is difficult to keep a balance. I’ve become mentally weak.”