South Korea's Park Ji-Sung is adamant he still has a "big future" at Manchester United following his heartbreak omission from the squad for last year's UEFA Champions League final win over Chelsea.
The midfielder did his best to make-up for that disappointment by scoring English champions United's opener in their 1-1 Premier League draw away to Chelsea on Sunday. "It has been a hard time for me," said the 27-year-old Park, who not long after his Champions League misery saw a knee injury rule him out of his country's participation in the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Despite some great performances in United's run to European glory, Sir Alex Ferguson axed Park from the squad for the May final - a decision the Scottish manager said was the most difficult of his career. "I have to show my abilities so I don't suffer that experience again," said Park. "This was a chance to do that and I need to take them because I still believe I have a big future at Manchester United."
Reflecting on Sunday's match, the former PSV Eindhoven player added: "I was quite pleased with my performance. My fitness is coming back now."
Referee Mike Riley booked seven United players at Stamford Bridge but Park said there were several instances when members of the Chelsea deserved to have their names taken. "It was unfair," he said. "The Chelsea players did the same tackles but the yellow cards went to us. A couple of their men deserved them as well."
Low in the table
United are currently in an unusually low 15th place in the table, just a point above the relegation zone. However, Ferguson's men have played one fewer game than most of the division following the postponement of their home match against Fulham because of their appearance in the European Super Cup final in Monaco.
They've also had some tricky early season fixtures at home, including league matches away to Portsmouth, Liverpool and Chelsea, with leaders Arsenal and in-form local rivals Manchester City to come before November.
"I thought we did really well and we were disappointed not to get the three points," Park said of a match at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea extended their unbeaten home league record to an astonishing 85 matches.
"In the end we got a point away from Old Trafford so it is not that bad, especially against a side like Chelsea, who have not lost (at home) for a such a long time," he added. "It is a pity we conceded so late because we really wanted to beat the record. We will just have to wait until next time instead."