Ex-United star Park agrees with van Gaal's critics
Ex-United midfielder Park says FA Cup win and fourth spot will save season
They are the giants of English football, having won the league a record 20 times, in addition to a trio of European Cups.
But the Manchester United side led by Louis van Gaal have come under fire this season, following a series of underwhelming performances and poor results.
Former United star Paul Scholes has blasted van Gaal's boring tactics and a huge swathe of the club's fans have blamed the Dutchman for their unimpressive campaign and the lack of a challenge for the English Premier League title.
Former Red Devils midfielder Park Ji Sung says the criticism of the manager has been fair.
"Manchester United fans' expectations are high, and they deserve to have that because we've been for many, many years at the top level of football," he told The New Paper at The Westin yesterday.
"The fans expect much of van Gaal, because he's done very well with Barcelona and Bayern Munich in his career, so that's why the fans' expectations are even higher than he thought."
Sir Alex Ferguson bought Park from PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and the South Korean played 134 matches for the Red Devils, winning four league titles and a winner's medal in the 2008 Champions League.
He left United for Queens Park Rangers in 2012 and retired from football in 2014.
Park, who has also been capped 100 times for Korea and starred for them in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals, believes it will be a decent season for van Gaal if United win the FA Cup and qualify for next season's Champions League.
"How he finishes this season is very important. If he finishes fourth and wins a trophy, it could be an okay season," said the Korean, who is the club's global ambassador.
"I know fans still won't be satisfied with the performances over the whole season, but it's still an okay result for van Gaal and United."
Park, who is in town to promote men's hair care brand Clear, says the make-up of the current United squad differs vastly from when he was there.
"When I was there, there were many players who were with United throughout their whole careers," he said. "Those senior players know the United way and they can spread their experience to other players who join from other countries or clubs.
"They inspire the way we have to play at United, and that can help the new signings adapt so we don't lose our philosophy and winning mentality."
Park said senior players like England captain Wayne Rooney, whom he feels can still make a big impact at the Euros next month, should stay at the club.
"England have young players who have performed very well, but they still need someone who can control players on the pitch, and Rooney is a tough man for the England team," said Park, who played with Rooney for seven years.
"If we keep (Michael) Carrick and Rooney, they can slowly spread their influence to players, and that should be better for the next season."
If it happens, and with some astute signings, Park feels the Red Devils have what it takes to become title contenders again next season .
"I believe we can make it, but we need to prepare well in pre-season and maybe buy a couple of players to replace some players," he said.
"We need a central defender and one striker, but it depends on who the manager thinks is good for the team."
“The fans expect much of van Gaal, because he’s done very well with Barcelona and Bayern Munich in his career, so that’s why the fans’ expectations are even higher than he thought.”
— Park Ji Sung