The Red Report: Park, Fergie and Arsenal vs. Barcelona

Welcome to the tenth issue of The Red Report, the round table discussion of all things Manchester United by your favourite United blogs: The Busby WayStretford-EndBangalore To Old TraffordManUtd24, United Youth, and Red Force Rising.

With Christmas less than a week away can we’d like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a very merry Christmas. It looks like it might even be a white one! On to the footballing matters…this week we’re discussing an unsung hero, the Boss and a Champions League tie.

The news that Park is leaving after the Sunderland game to participate in the Asian Cup would normally be met with a sigh and an ‘ok’ – however this year Ji’s form means that actually it’s a big big blow. We decided it was only appropriate to discuss one of our unsung heroes:

Chudi | The Busby Way: Park Ji Sung was getting a fair bit of stick at the start of the season and rightly so as he was underperforming massively. Park without being spectacular is always a solid performer. Last term he did particularly well against AC Milan as well as scoring against Arsenal and getting the winner against Liverpool at Old Trafford but at the start of the season he wasn’t performing.

He took stock of this though and admitted it himself and the turn around has been remarkable, good performances and goals have followed and you can’t ask for more.

It is easy to overlook Park as he isn’t a star name (at least not over here) but he usually puts in a shift as well as gets goals in the big games, an asset to our team most definitely.

Doron | Stretford-End: There are times when a teamsheet is released and you see Park’s name and you groan. I’ve often felt that he’s a negative selection at home. However, with Valencia getting injured, someone has had to step up alongside Nani and Park hasn’t half done that.

He’s added goals and drive this season to his repertoire of hard work, marking, effort and general fear of shooting! As much as I like to moan at him, I’m also pleased. Too many people accused his signing of being purely commercial and even if it was for the club, he’s made it into something so much more than that.

A goal every three games this season and performances that would have the media drooling if he was more of a ‘name’ – Park’s at present very very important.

Kyle | Stretford-End: I admit I’ve been one of Park’s biggest critics, but I’m thrilled to see him prove me wrong. He has a first touch that frustrates and is prone to giving the ball away, but he certainly comes through when it matters. When we desperately needed a goal in the dying minutes against Wolves, Park came up big with a crucial goal. Against Arsenal, one of the most important fixtures this season, it was Park that scored the winner. He really has a knack for performing in big games, and the value of that type of player cannot be underestimated. His versatility is so important as well, though I wish he would play more central. When he plays in behind the striker, he seems the most lethal. Like I said I’ve been a critic and I’m a bit surprised to be admitting this, but I’ll be sad to see Park leave for
international duty in January.

TG | ManUtd24: I strongly believe Park is up there with the very best in the league. He thrives in big games – not many do so and so it’s a shame he’s not rated in higher regard. He is, at times, frustrating to watch but that tends to happen when he plays to far off the pitch; he thrives in a more central position. This way, he is far more involved in the action and can play almost as an extra forward. It’s been said time and time again but he’s tireless, full of energy and he tracks back often meaning he’s more than just a useful player in the rotation system. He has six goals to his name already and being in such rich vein of form, it’s a shame he’s going to away to play for South Korea in the Asian Cup.

Alan | RedForceRising: Park Ji-Sung keeps shoving humble pie down the throats of his detractors and I smile each time he does. He is not the most skilful player on the pitch, nor does he score a lot of goals, but when he does, they tend to be important goals against big clubs such as Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and AC Milan. What irks me is that a lot of fans have the tendency to overrate mediocre players and will defend them staunchly, but do not extend the same support to Park. He is one of the most committed players on the pitch and his tireless hustling benefits his team mates both in defence, as well as in attack. Park has already notched 6 goals this season which is more than he scored in the whole of last season and more than a quarter of the goals he has scored in his entire career at Manchester United. He is in a rich vein of form and it is very unfortunate to lose him for the next 6 weeks while he represents South Korea at the Asian Cup. On the bright side, he has announced that he will call time on his international career at the end of the tournament, which will hopefully benefit Manchester United.

Form is temporary, class is…well in this case can form be permanent please!?

It’s only apt that we each eulogise over Sir Alex. Today he becomes the longest serving Manchester United manager ever…

Kyle | Stretford-End: A terrific achievement for a great man and a fine testament to the importance of stability in a club. He can never be thanked enough for what he has done for our club. Just look at Sir Alex’s honours and it says it all for why he’s been at the club this long. It’s not just all the trophies he’s brought to Old Trafford that have made him a legend, though that is a massive part of it. He rebuilt the club at every level. He was responsible fr the youth network and development that produced the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. His eye for talent landed us world class players like Cristiano Ronaldo for what proved to be bargain fees. He brought a sense of family to the squad; that close-knit feel is so important for team chemistry. He truly does it all. As if he wasn’t already a massive part of our history, this record just further cements his status as a legend.

Alan | RedForceRising: The history of Manchester United is chock-full of great men, but at the top of all the hallowed names are those of two knights: Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.

I have only known Manchester United under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson and merely wish to express my gratitude. It has been a privilege and an honour to have been able to witness so many beautiful and dramatic moments of football, which made me experience so many wonderful emotions. Sir Alex benefited from the foundation, as well as footballing philosophy created by Sir Matt and he took the club to greater heights than anyone could have imagined, so it is very befitting that Fergie should overtake Busby as United’s longest serving manager. Thank you for the beautiful football, Sir Alex and long may it continue!

TG | ManUtd24: He’s been amazing. He even said himself that he’d never thought he would be at the club for so long, and if he didn’t have the hunger anymore, I’m sure he would have retired all the way back in 2002! He’s took the team to dizzying heights and has won 34 trophies…and counting. As a fan, it’s been an honour – as it must have felt for those watching Sir Matt Busby and his conquering Manchester United team.

Doron | Stretford-End: I’ve never known the club to be under the leadership of anyone else. I wish Fergie was an eternal being and it could always be that way! Quite simply he’s the best manager the game of football has ever seen. His ability to constantly adapt to the times and rebuild a team is phenomenal. His legacy at the club is well in place…there will never be anyone like him again.

Chudi | The Busby Way: Sir Alex breaking the record as United’s longest serving manager didn’t always seem likely. He didn’t get off to the greatest of starts and in the current footballing climate where patience is rare with both managers as well as developing players, he may not have been as lucky but back then he was and we should be eternally grateful.

Not many clubs can boast of having truly great managers but we have been blessed with 2 and it is a testament to how good each are that there is still debate over who is the greatest.

As Sir Alex becomes our longest serving manager other clubs should take note, in his 24 years, 1 month and 14 days he has grown and United have grown with him. Arguably we are the biggest club in the world and Sir Alex has played a huge part in that.

Ferguson wasn’t made for United. United was made for Ferguson.

As per usual we decided to look at a non-United topic. Having discussed what we’d like to see happen in the Champions League draw last week, this week we discuss one of the ties in particular…Arsenal vs. Barcelona:

Chudi | The Busby Way: I personally can’t see Arsenal/Barcelona going any other way than it did last year, with an Arsenal being embarrassed. If anything it will probably end up worse with a more clinical finisher in David Villa upfront in comparison to Ibrahimovic.

It may be folly to completely write off Arsenal though but I really can’t see Arsenal beating them, it is often said Arsenal can only play football one way and unfortunately that one way plays right into Barcelona’s hands.

Arsenal fans often sing a song declaring their team as ‘the greatest team the world has ever seen’, last season that was horribly exposed as a lie and I won’t lie I look forward to seeing it happen again in a couple of months.

Doron | Stretford-End: As someone said on Twitter, this is Primark Barcelona vs. Barcelona. I can’t wait to see this tie. Personally I hope Arsenal get well and truly exposed and embarrassed – for they think they play like Barcelona…well they don’t! No doubt Wenger’s arrogance and naivity will lead him to believe he can outplay Barcelona at their own game. This will be the perfect example of why Wenger isn’t as good as people think – never ever does he have a “plan b” and boy oh boy will he need one in this tie. On the other hand, Barcelona to be knocked out at the last 16 stage…it’s a nice thought!

TG | ManUtd24: Let’s just say it: I’d like Arsenal to win. Not that I’m afraid United will play Barcelona at the latter stages because they might and probably would, but it’s always good to have as many English teams as possible in the competition. Still, I’d expect Barca to prevail over both legs. You feel for Arsenal – it’s everything they wouldn’t want after last year’s demolition at the Camp Nou.

Alan | RedForceRising: I won a nice bit of cash when Barcelona thrashed Arsenal by more than two goals and will be placing a similar bet this season. If Barcelona play against Arsenal the way they did against Madrid, the Gunners have absolutely no chance and it is likely to be another massacre at the hands of Xavi and Co.

Kyle | Stretford-End: I just cannot see anything but Barcelona advancing from this tie. The Gunners were embarrassed by Barcelona last year and I honestly don’t think anything has changed. Sure, Arsene Wenger’s kids are a year older and more experienced, but they still aren’t on the level of Barcelona. The only reason Inter managed to defeat Barcelona last season is because Mourinho went into the game with a plan to stifle Barcelona’s attack. It was a very disciplined, defensive performance. If Arsenal is willing to give up the attractive football they’re so proud of and grind out a result then they may have a shot, but I still don’t think they’re good enough. That said, I’d be happy to see Arsenal get some sort of fluke result and knock out Barcelona; would make our chances in later rounds a lot better.

Any game that involves Barcelona is mouth-watering these days, add the team who think they’re Barcelona…makes for a great tie.

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Best of the blogs:

The Busby Way | 24 Years, One Month And 14 Days – These Are The Numbers That Matter
Stretford-End | Arsenal Bring Out The Best In United
ManUtd24 | Individuals Are Starting To Take Responsibility At Old Trafford
RedForceRising | Qatar Holdings Linked To £1.5bn Takeover Of Man Utd And Why It Could Be True

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That concludes another Red Report for the week. Hopefully this edition keeps you entertained until next Monday. We’re always open to hear from you so you can catch us on Twitter:

Follow The Busby Way
Follow Stretford-End
Follow Doron
Follow Bangalore To Old Trafford
Follow ManUtd24
Follow RedForceRising
Follow United Youth

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But don’t forget to check out our individual sites if you think we have missed something, as it is likely at least one of us will have covered it there:

The Busby Way
Stretford-End
Bangalore To Old Trafford
ManUtd24
RedForceRising
United Youth

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