“He is a great professional, the boy never complains. He is happy to play anywhere”
In that one quote Sir Alex Ferguson sums up John O’Shea in a nutshell, this is why it fills me with great sadness to see him depart Manchester United to move to Sunderland. Every team needs a John O’Shea. In 13 years with the Red Devils, O’Shea, like most players, has always had his critics, some are understandable, but others have been completely unfounded – even departing the club, there will be a section of supporters that will be glad to see the back of him. He is essentially a marmite player.
Now, I’m not here to glorify O’Shea or to make him out to be something that he’s not. Is he world class? No. Has he ever been world class? No. (He did nutmeg Luis Figo, though) And at the age of 30, nor will he ever be world class. Having said that, you don’t spend 13 years at a club of Manchester United’s ilk without having a certain touch of class or by the same token, having luck on your side, something which the Irishman has had – or the rub of the green, if you’ll excuse the pun.
Some of O’Shea’s defining moments at United after 301 games – that chip over Manuel Almunia in 2005 and his goal against Liverpool at the Kop-end in 2007. Oh, and *ahem* THAT pass, shot, or whatever you want to call it against West Ham. Versatility has been a word that has dominated John O’Shea’s career, with having the distinction of having played in EVERY position for the club – he’s played right across the back four, had a spell in midfield, up front and even donned the gloves going between the sticks against Tottenham.
Even as he begins to enter the latter stages of his career, O’Shea will bring a lot to the table for the Black Cats, his winning mentality being one – 5 Premier League winners’ medals, for one, one FA Cup medal, three League Cup medals, and a Champions League winner’s medal – not a bad collection of medals.
On his move to Sunderland, O’Shea said: “Once I’d heard reports about the club and the people here, the ambitions and what the manager was all about, it was the only place I was going to come to.” Steve Bruce, much like Sir Alex Ferguson, has already been praising his new signing: “He is a wonderful professional both on and off the field and his wealth of experience and versatility will be great attributes for us.”
In Sunderland’s case, O’Shea could possibly one of their most important buys of this summer transfer window, and perhaps a better option than an injury prone Wes Brown. In many ways, the Irishman could easily prove to be Sunderland’s very own Phil Neville, as an example of a player who has left Manchester United and continued to play consistently well.