Park 45, Park 90+3
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1
Ji-Sung Park provided the only spark for Manchester United in a disjointed and ragged performance which should have cost them dear.
The South Korean was a willing runner throughout the match, seeming to rediscover his engine which in turn enabled him to bring a little creativity to the fore. Park has struggled in the early stages of this season, seemingly suffering from this summer’s World Cup. This has been most noticeable on his energy levels, such an important aspect of his game, seemingly lost prior to the two recent encounters against Wolverhampton Wanderers. In Saturday’s match Park not only put in the kind of shift United fans are accustomed to seeing, but he had a spring in his step and his pace over the first five yards seemed to have been rediscovered.
This is a real plus to Park’s game as he is always quick to steal possession in high areas of the pitch which can be a real danger to the opposition. After his performance against the same side in the Carling Cup, confidence also seems to have returned to Park’s game. This was clearly in evidence for his second goal, as to take it on in that manner, in the dying stages, knowing it is the last chance showed great belief in his ability. The resurgence of the former PSV man will greatly please his manager considering the injury problems United are currently suffering in wide areas.
There was little else to savour for United in an encounter which started in the worst possible way with Owen Hargreaves pulling up six minutes into his first start in two years. It is clear it affected United who in truth never really got going. Going forward, the likes of Gabriel Obertan showed flashes of inspiration, but was often too wasteful in possession; however the Frenchman managed to find his teammates a little better than Bebe. The young Portuguese, on for Hargreaves, looked nervous in possession, continually giving the ball away and had little in the way of subtlety in advanced areas, over-hitting cross after cross. United may feel that young foreign attacking talent may be the best way of improving the squad but when looking at the problems Matt Jarvis caused in both recent encounters, it begs the question whether proven Premier League talent could have been acquired for a similar price.
The most worrying aspect for United, however, was the performance of the centre-half partnership. Both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic found themselves out of position on a number of occasions and both gave the ball away needlessly in dangerous areas. Vidic was the worst performer of the two, on his heels for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s equaliser and then gifting a chance which should have seen United go behind, with the weakest of defensive headers.
Despite closing the gap on Chelsea, there will be very little for Sir Alex Ferguson to take from this performance, which will be worrying the Scot considering this weeks’ Manchester derby. Ferguson would have wanted to go into Wednesday’s match at Eastlands full of confidence, but instead will be asking serious questions about his side.
1 Van der Sar
6 Brown – 15 Vidic – 5 Ferdinand – 3 Evra
4 Hargreaves – 24 Fletcher – 22 O’Shea – 13 Park
26 Obertan – 14 Hernandez
10- 33 Bebe on for 4 Hargreaves
74 – 18 Scholes on for 22 O’Shea
74 – 27 Macheda on for 33 Bebe