Golden Transfer To Man. Utd.
Bought for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around four million pounds, from PSV Eindhoven in July, 2005, Park Ji-Sung's transfer, while sensational, was not the usual 'tug of war' associated with United transfer targets. Only last week, Sir Alex Ferguson was being interviewed by the BBC about Chelsea's new found buying supremacy in the transfer market: "If Chelsea go for a player we are interested in, we are not going to beat them, so there is no point even going for him, unless, like Park Ji-Sung, they are of a mind to join United." Rapidly, this is how Park Ji-Sung is being perceived by the Manchester United supporter base- as a Red Devil through and through. The enthusiasm and energy that Park has shown during his appearances for United this season, and the unusual smoothness and ease of his transfer, has already convinced the hardcore supporters that this is a player they can trust to give his all for the team.
However, for the keen observers of Manchester United and those who are familiar with Sir Alex's methods- know that the above conspiracy theories are just not reality. His willingness to play Park in a variety of different positions, versatility in players being a pre-requisite of Sir Alex, his post-match comments and the fact that he is playing Park in what are crucial games, demonstrate that the manager genuinely values the player. What is more, Park's work ethic and discipline are exactly the characteristics Sir Alex looks for in his players. As Lee Hak Jong, Park's high-school coach said: "He was the smallest on the team, but the fittest, and no one could match his work ethic and discipline. I don't recall him ever skipping or being late for practice." Music to Sir Alex's ears!!
There are those cynics, of course, who claim that Manchester United's purchase of Park Ji-Sung was more a reflection of a hidden agenda by the club's new owner, Malcolm Glazer, than it was a footballing decision by Sir Alex Ferguson. Firstly, Manchester United have always been keen to raise their profile in the South East Asian market, as can be seen with their many pre-season tours of that region and this marketing strategy becoming especially important since the sale of football icon, David Beckham, to Real Madrid in 2003 and lower profits reported this year. Secondly, given the amount of debt that Glazer needed to take on to fund his buyout of the club- his promise of a 25 million pound per season transfer fund, net of any player sales, was empty and Park Ji-Sung, at four million pounds, and Edwin Van Der Saar, at two million pounds, proved to be excellent bargains, essentially paid for by the sales of Phil Neville to Everton, David Bellion to West Ham, Jose Kleberson to Besiktas and a host of other players released or loaned out.