Whilst fans hotly debate the comings and goings of January’s upcoming transfer market, lest we not forget the true heroes of football. John O’Shea comes as no better example. For many the loveable idiot within United’s international set-up, O’Shea is now approaching his tenth season with United. Rant marks O’Shea’s anniversary in all his glory.
A fan’s favourite, O’Shea is also a regular fixture at international level with the Republic of Ireland.O’Shea is probably the most versatile player ever to grace the modern game, having played in goal in United’s famous 2007 win at White Hart Lane. The Irishman also played up-front, scoring the the winner, at Anfield in the same year. A feat that should not be underestimated as the game was pivotal to United finally clinching the title that season.
The 28-year-old has dabbled in central midfield and, though a centre half by trade, seems more accomplished in the right wing-back role. If that was O’Shea’s rite-of-passage he should be relieved to have finished the ordeal. But there seems little in O’Shea’s character to suggest that he minds too much. As long as he is involved, he is happy. The true glory of O’Shea.
Ferguson has rewarded the attitude, with the manager now placing the Irishman as United’s first choice right-back, ahead of the England’s incumbent and teammate Wes Brown.
Brown, magnificent prior to another recent injury lay-off, has lost his place in the starting eleven to O’Shea. Youngster Rafael, with such raw talent, has been unable to displace Ireland’s key defender, and even the club-Captain Gary Neville must now play second fiddle.
The Waterford-born star is also one of the few United players to rarely be troubled with injury throughout his time at the club. It’s a feature of O’Shea’s make-up that has become extremely useful for Sir Alex Ferguson.
O’Shea recently past 350 appearances for United, and is not far from surpassing the Scot Arthur Albiston, who made 485 appearances. That would, almost unbelievably, place O’Shea 10th on the all-time United appearances list.
Trivial facts that should not be underestimated. Many players have an instant impact at Old Trafford but are just as easily forgotten. Dwight Yorke, for example, was at times a superb player for United but lacked the inherent quality to maintain his level for many years. Performances on the pitch are key for Ferguson, with Yorke’s ‘character’ a point of friction for the Scot.
O’Shea, a model of complete professionalism, deserves significant credit. To have survived at Old Trafford for so long, Sir Alex must must not doubt for a moment his capabilities.
Yet it is obvious that O’Shea is not the most gifted player to have pulled on a United shirt. But that is not to doubt the Irishman’s impact – amid too many Prima Donas, there simply aren’t enough John O’Shea’s.