Home » ARTICLES » Saluting The Vastly Underrated John O’Shea

Saluting The Vastly Underrated John O’Shea

published :

Over the past 20 years of watching a very successful Manchester United team dominate the English game, there have been a number of key factors in winning the amount of trophies that Sir Alex Ferguson has.

Signing the very best players being is one and having a stable manager and dressing room another. But one of the most important has been our ability to deal with injuries and fatigue by having a squad capable of filling in for each other when required.

We have seen the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Nicky Butt, Phil Neville and Quinton Fortune all come to the club and be particularly effective at slotting in when required while maintaining the success the club expects and requires. However this summer saw the exit for one of these types of players, in John O’Shea.

Personally, I like John both in terms of his ability on the pitch which I believe is vastly underrated able to play anywhere across the back four and in emergency situations in midfield, and also his behaviour towards referees, opposition and fans alike.

Now we all agree that he wasn’t good enough to play week in week out at United, and he isn’t going to help us in the bid to close the gap on Barcelona, but he was a great servant for Ferguson in an almost similar situation to Phil Neville who could also play in defence and midfield.

In the end the situation was Ferguson decided to let him go to dear old friend Steve Bruce at Sunderland along with another long serving player in Wes Brown ending an era in some cases as it was out with the old and in with the new.

John O’ Shea has a wealth of experience from his 13 years at Old Trafford and although he never frequently held down a starting position he had always a role to play. Last season he played in key games towards the business end of the season.  For instance in the second-leg of that memorable Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea where his reverse ball put Ryan Giggs in to set up Javier Hernandez for the opener an example. He also played in the league game and title decider against Chelsea filling in at left back for Patrice Evra in a 2-1 win.

Experience is the key, with John having won 5 league titles, a Champions League medal and a host of other domestic silverware. He has played at the highest level for the past 10 years playing over 400 games for United in all competitions. He even was one of the players lambasted in Roy Keane’s famous MUTV rant that led to his departure.

If anything fans crave the big name signing to become a United legend but in fact that is never the case. The legends of the club come in the shape of loyal servants who spend their career with the club people like Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs and even in the shape of the veteran servants of John O’Shea, Phil Neville and Wes Brown who accepted they would have to move on to further their careers but they remain admired and appreciated for all they done for the club.

The famous goal at the Kop end at Anfield in stoppage time will always be every Manchester United fans fondest memories of him but there was also that cheeky meg on Luis Figo, a couple of goals against Arsenal and even a brief appearance between the sticks. Not a bad résumé is it?

A lot has been written about the way he has conducted himself in their tenure at the club. He understood the squad game better than anyone else, and when he was needed he rarely disappointed. The epitome of professionalism, his commitment to the Manchester United cause over the past decade is unquestionable and the affection with which Manchester United fans will remember him ought not be underestimated.

John O’Shea could never be labelled boisterous, or exuberant he was a true professional who understood his role, and was always ready when called upon. So instead of further eulogizing about this incredible Manchester United career which has left us with fond memories just remember Gary Neville’s words to John O’Shea: ‘’You have just lived my dream’’.

By Darren Hickey @DHick92