John O’Shea – Why He Should Stay. 09/06/11


Originally Published – 09/06/11 by James (writtenoffside) – If various rumours are to be believed, John O’Shea is on the brink of leaving Manchester United to go to the Steve Bruce rescue centre for unfulfilled footballers at Sunderland in a three way deal that would see him accompanied by Wes Brown and Darron Gibson. Although it would be a shame to see the latter two go, I can fully understand that from all parties, it makes a lot of sense but having thought about it over the last 20 hours or so, I tend to feel that letting the big Irishman leave would be a rare mistake from Sir Alex Ferguson. 


Born in Waterford in the South of Ireland, John moved to Manchester when he was 17 and had loan spells at Bournemouth and Royal Antwerp (United’s feeder club at the time) before establishing himself in the 2002-03 season in a variety of positions. And this is the true reason why United should do their best to keep hold of the easy going Irishman. You just cannot put a price on his key asset – versatility. We all know that O’Shea is not the most talented footballer at the club and that he does not possess the skill or poise of a Ferdinand or the pace of an Evra but what he has in spades is commitment, drive and flexibility. He truly is a jack of all trades. This is amply proved by the fact that during his nigh on 400 games at the club (no bad achievement to be honest) he has played in literally every position available on the pitch and always to a decent standard.

Initially, he rose to prominence at left back where he was regularly seen running down the wing and even managed that famous nutmeg of Luis Figo at Old Trafford in a Champions League tie against Real Madrid. This piece of skill is still spoken of today by those who saw the sheer audacity and impudence as one of many reasons to cherish the amiable lad from Waterford. Various stints in all manner of positions have since occurred over the years and he has suffered without doubt by being unable to nail down a set niche in the side.It would be cruel to say he is a “jack of all trades but master of none” but in some ways this can be seen as an affectionate phrase to sum the player up. Whatever role he is assigned by Sir Alex, he will do it without fuss which often means sacrificing himself for the good of the team.

Few will forget his epic brief appearance at White Hart Lane as a substitute for the injured Edwin Van der Sar a few years back when there was no substitute keeper to call on. Grinning from ear to ear, he slipped into the green keeper’s shirt ahead of Rio Ferdinand and managed to keep the home side at bay and delighting the away faithful with his famous block on international colleague Robbie Keane. It was centre back that O’Shea saw as his main position but once he realised that competition for places was going to red hot, he was more than happy to fill any slot that became vacant. Many will recall the culmination of a season when himself and Ryan Giggs were the last men standing in central midfield and although this combination was hardly one to strike fear into the opponents hearts, they responded to the cause with admirable courage and no little quality.

Special Moments:

I think one of the reasons that John will always have a special place in United fans hearts is the feeling that he is a normal lad that has made the most of the talent that he has been given. He plays the game with a smile on his face and you get the feeling that he cherishes each and every day in his privileged position. He has also been fortunate to score some vital goals over the years that have contributed massively to iconic moments in United’s history. Few will forget the look on his face as he scored United’s fourth at Highbury a few years back, clipping the ball over Almunia and almost watching time stand still as it finally dawned on the big man that he had put the seal on a famous victory. The penny finally dropped and he had no idea how to celebrate or where to put himself. It made me think this was akin to a fan being given the opportunity in the first team and then low and behold scoring the goal of his dreams to crush our main rivals.

For every United fan, scoring a goal in front of the Kop is something that dreams are made of. To achieve such a feat and then realise that not only has it secured a vital three points but also nudged the club towards yet another league title is something that this “jack of all trades” would not have envisaged as he made his way across the sea at the tender age of 17.


He is clearly a popular lad in the dressing room and his experience will be invaluable to the likes of the Da Silva twins as they embark on the start of what should be a glittering career with the club. To remove such a character who has been taught and also bought into the ethos instilled by the manager would be a risk bearing in mind some of the others that have departed the club recently. It is clear that time moves on and there is no one better than Ferguson in reconstructing squads as has been proved many times over the years but experience counts for so much in the modern age and a further loss could prove difficult to replace.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, it did come as something of a shock to hear that he was the third player in the possible £12million deal with Sunderland. In my view, he is the jewell in the crown for the Wearsiders and it will be with a heavy heart that Sir Alex sanctioned the transfer. Perhaps the wily Scot feels a touch guilty about the way he has used his versatility for the good of the team rather than the player himself and feels the best way to repay John for such loyalty and unstinting support is to allow him the final few years of his career as a big fish at the Stadium of Light where he will find himself among many familiar faces.

However, none of the other ex United players currently there can hold a candle to the kind of successful career as a Manchester United footballer that John has experienced. If the move does go through, I can see him being made captain and I hope that he finally is able to nail down a set position to see out the rest of what has been an utterly unselfish and trophy laden career with the recognition it deserves.

Many thanks to James ( for permission to publish this. You can follow James on Twitter @writtenoff_mufc



    • Christ mate, people were less upset about Scholes retiring than John O’Shea. He was a scrub, lets put his loss in proper perspective. Scholes will be missed by millions, only a fraction will really miss Brown or O’Shea.

      • perhaps i didn’t phrase it too well, but my attempt was to show an obligatory amount of missing before moving on (by asking how much we got for him)

        I think, as far as production on the pitch, they won’t be missed very much at all. before Fergie brought in the Da Silva twins and Evra + Vidic, our back four needed all the role player support that it could get. but now our defensive squad quality is good enough that they are a surplus to requirement.

        so yes, it is a sad day for United, but it is also a good day for United, because we truely don’t need them anymore

      • Are you for real boss. I bet you were one of the reds that gave Gibson abuse when he joined twitter.

        We all knew Scholes was on his way and was going in to retirement after giving his career to the club. When the ginger ninja went it was a sad day.

        JOS has been a loyal servant giving 100% on and off the pitch. he is a well liked lad in the dressing room and has more experience and dedication to united than any jack ass on the internet can claim to have.

        When you support a club you support a team and that is every player. Calling a united player a “scrub” says every thing I need to know about you

  1. thank you to one of, if not the greatest clubs in the world, of all the players we have or will sign this season, this truly is the jewel in the crown, HAPPY DAYS to be a sunderland fan, and its about time!!!!!

    • You’re welcome!

      O’Shea will be missed. Not spectacularly gifted at anything, and that means his exploits are forgotten or unrecognized by many, but there’s no shame in being able to do a lot of things well.

      I do think it was time though…I mean hey, he is getting up there, and this will offer him the opportunity to see far more starts than he would at United. And you can’t be too nostalgic when making squad decisions…it’s clear SAF’s trying to look to the future, so I see the reasoning for the move. I think there are still a few signings to come, so those worrying about what these moves mean for our depth shouldn’t be.

      But yes, he’ll definitely be missed, and he should always have a place in United history. He always gave 100% for United, and I’m sure he’ll do the same for Sunderland. I had high hopes for them to be able to push for a Europa League spot last season, and it looked like they would before they fell off dramatically in the last few months of the season, but I think Brucey’s assembling the pieces that will be able to make a lasting run at one of those spots this season.

    • Great vid. Maybe could have put the goal against Everton in 06-07 as well when we were 2-0 down at Everton. That was one title swinging goal too.

  2. does 6MM for both sound ridiculous?? Why do we always buy a premium and under-sell our players? I thought JOS on his own would be worth 7-8 at least

    • I think the deal probably has some form of delayed contingencies involved. Because Bruce is close to Fergie, I bet Fergie will get a cut rate the next time a Sunderland player attracts Fergie’s attention.

  3. I dont know if it has been mentioned here before, but has anyone seen Hargreaves’ Youtube channel.

    Nice idea, Owen. I hope he gets on the pitch as soon as possible because the guy has suffered a lot. I always regret that we could not see him more for United. Physically, he’s a beast, and I remember the word that he was faster than Ronaldo in training. Great skill as a defensive midfielder, great freekicks, pyscho-like drive. Of the four signings (Nani, Anderson, Tevez and him), it was his that excited me the most because it was great to see him at his work. In his debut against City away, he marked the shit out of Robinho. I will always be his fan.

    • What really concerns me is that if he was finally coming around and was healthy, why then did Fergie finally let him go after such a long time? At a time when he needed a player like that, was it wise to let him go without giving him the pre season training period to best assess the situation? Then again, it might be because his contract was up and they felt they had paid enough already. It’s a shame because Hargo was a truly great player.

  4. He served us well and good luck to sheasy, but i think were over reacting a bit thinking hes going to be a big miss. Too much of a jack of all trades master of none for me, but still i admired his loyalty and his willingness to be a squad player. Still, at 31 years old, on a high wage amount with other options in defence elswewhere, i think a move for him was for the best.
    Fabio and rafael fighting out at right fullback, vida, rio, jones and smalling for CB and evra and evans at leftback. Ok im not exactly happy about the thought of evra or evans at LB, but i dont sheasy would do any better there anyway. Cant help but feel it would have been a good idea to keep hold of de laet who i rate very highly.
    Maybe the stories of that iziguirre bloke at celtic might be true, and were interested in him? (hope not as i want baines).
    Anyway thanks for the loyal years of service sheasy. You were never my favourite player, but your loyalty was beyond question, and for that you, and wesley, have my respect.
    Best of luck at sunderland, theyre assembling a pretty decent team there now.

    • Did you ever see Hargreaves play for Bayern mate, or for England for that matter? He may have been a jack of all trades but he was a devastatingly fantastic DMF. He could run down everyone, win the ball without committing fouls and stayed away from yellow and red cards while being a pest and then he had the box to box skill to distribute and attack. And he was a fantastic free kick taker as well while I would also trust him on penalties and corners. Jack of all trades and master at many I’d say.

      • Was saying the same thing over a few beers only last night. He would have been the difference is so many big games over the last few years

  5. Off topic:
    Reports doing rounds that Nasri gone to City for 23 mil!

    • Bale gone to Barca for 45 million… not sure I believe either 😀

    • Might well be happening. If so, good for him, we only want people who really want to be at United. Winners gonna win, losers gonna lose, he should know which boat to hop in.

      But if the race is still wide open, which I’m of the opinion that it is (though I’m 100% sure Arsenal would rather sell to City rather than us, no doubt about that), then it’s hard to buy that an Italian news source would be breaking a story involving two English clubs and a French player. Doesn’t add up, does it?

      • why would Arsenal rather sell to City… I have heard this before but it doesn’t make sense to me.

        Are Arsenal really gunning for the title? If so, would City AND United not stand in their way (selling to either is bad business then)
        Are Arsenal competing for Top 4? If so, selling to City would surely drop them below City and make the fight for Top 4 even more difficult (selling to City would really hurt them)
        Are Arsenal preventing us from winning the title? The only reason to sell to City would be to directly hurt us (and themselves) and I don’t buy the “historical rivals” argument.

        No way will Arsenal finish above us; however, with Nasri at City, Arsenal will much more likely finish below City…

        Thus, IMO, Arsenal would lose less if they sold to us. [Sucks to be Arsenal] 😈 😈

      • The player has total control over where he wants to go. It matters not that Arsenal would prefer to sell him to City. If Nasri wants to play for us all he has to do is hold out because with one year left on his contract, Arsenal cannot afford to not let him go for fear of getting nothing for him in a year. I’m also getting pretty pissed off with this lame ass reports people seem to be hearing but they are nowhere to be found on the Internet. More like total Bullshit I think.

  6. I’d believe an alien invasion before I believed anything being reported by GOAL.COM 🙄 Jeez guys, how many times have I and Red Ranter and others said to not believe a word you read over at NewsNow? Honestly, unless the Guardian, the BBC or Sky Sports report something, I refuse to believe it. The Internet is like the tabloids, a bunch of filthy fucking liars.

    • Amazing how so many journos are allowed to get away with straightforward lying and deceit, because in no other industry would journos get away with being completely unreliable sources of information. Unbelievable.

  7. yeah,

    Newsnow is great for when i’m procrastinating, but as far as being a reliable source of information?? well, lets just say that i subscribe to the Guardian and Sky Sports news feeds for a reason

    • Precisely, those are the two best sources out there, hands down. The Guardian has dropped the ball a few times, but they’ve been reliable much more often than not. And Sky’s my top go-to if there’s anything that needs to be known.

      [Edit: Left out the BBC, forgot about them. I don’t check their site out as often as the others, but they’re at the top of the reliability list as well.]

    • Personally I go for the club web site and read about it when the deal is done. Life is short as they say

      • Club web sites are for donkeys mate. Never offer up anything concrete, always trying to sell you something and state nothing but the obvious while censoring the rumors and truth about situations. And United’s is the very worst Glazer run abomination on the net.

    • Now there is an intelligent fan who isn’t tempted by the lies and fiction written by the other sites and blogs that have nothing better to do than to mislead people just so that somebody gives them the time of day.

  8. I’ve noticed that we have replaced 6 players with an average age of 33,83 with 3 players at an average age of 21,3. And with Kuzczack on the way out as well, we have now gotted rid of 7 players this summer, all above the age of 29! Amazing! 😀

  9. @ James,
    Good article James. As people constantly repeat, todays premier league football team is a squad game. Rarely have we seen such an All Rounder as John O Shea. With the amount of games played in a season, when involved in all competitions, we need everyone in a 25 man squad. John has been a model professional and a great example to the younger players. Solid and dependable, are the words that comes to mind when i think of John. Sure he doesn’t set the world alight but as you have mentioned, there are no players in our history who have been as versatile. On this alone he deserves to be remembered as a Red Legend. I wish him all the best with Brucie and Sunderland and likewise for Wes Brown.
    Now that Brown and O Shea are gone, we need more cover in the Fullback positions. I hope the injuries that have plagued us in the last couple of seasons aren’t repeated this season, because thats when we’ll miss the dependable Waterford man the most.

    • WHOA MATE!!!! Watch how you use that word LEGEND. Charlton, Best, Law, Edwards, Cantona, Schmeichel, Hughes, Robson, Giggs, Solskjaer, Scholes, Schmeichel, Keane, Beckham, EVDS, RVN, Ronaldo, Neville. Those are examples of names that should and do have the word legend in front of them. A scrub substitute who did his time and helped the club out with his professionalism, versatility and loyalty deserves all our respect but he has not earned legend status. I get frustrated when fans use that word too liberally as it cheapens the accomplishments of those greats I mentioned above as well as others that go farther back.

      • Grog,
        So is this another about face from you? Gary Neville is a Red Legend, that i know, but to read you saying it is quite remarkable considering how much you’ve slagged him off in the past.
        Legend is indeed a subjective word, has John O Shea earned it, my view is, yes he has.
        13 Years, 372 Appearances, 15 Goals,
        FA Premier League: 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011.UEFA Champions League: 2008
        FA Cup: 2004.League Cup: 2006.FIFA Club World Cup: 2008.
        Suffice it to say that John has put in enough time at the coalface, scored important goals, and given enough funny postmatch comments to earn this lofty title! 😉 2006-07 was his best season, while Rio was on holidays from missing a drug test, John ably deputised in central defence.He played on every position on the pitch!! Now thats not something that i think we’ll ever see again. Then O Shea scored that goal against the Scouse. That led to a mini scoring spree,3 goals in 7 games, helping us onto title No. 16. Ask the Stretford End or Gary Neville? if you have any doubts? This is the thing about objectivity/subjectivity 💡 I would say that all on your list are Legends, but there are some out there who would disagree. In fact some of them have not contributed as much as John O Shea has for the Red shirt of Manchester United. So without getting pedantic, what i’m saying is, its a matter of opinion.
        “the Stretford End will fucking sing, We all know that Johnny’s gonna score”
        Here’s that goal, right in front of the Kop

      • Phoenix Red: It’s no secret that I was never a big Neville fan but the man was our starting RB for well over a decade and was the number one choice for his country for that period too. He was a starter and considered by most out there to be an excellent fullback so he has earned the status of legend even if I think he was overrated. And sorry but years of service and games does not make you a legend. O’Shea was nothing more than a bench player and for that reason he deserves no such accolades. Only Solskjaer can be considered a legend coming off the bench because he scored a ton of goals for the club but he also started a lot of games and excelled. Legend for me is similar to world class, you don’t just hand it out like a plate of fish n chips. A player has to be a star and very special to be considered a legend. O’Shea was nothing more than a valued servant.

      • Anyone who thinks Ronaldo isn’t a legend for United considering what he offered the club for six years is completely daft. Please remember that the King himself, probably the greatest of all legend for United had a shorter tenure with the club and within that missed almost an entire year due to suspension. What exactly does it take to be a legend in your blue collar slave labor of a world, indentured servitude regardless of talent? 🙄 🙄

  10. My only hope is that Phil Jones really is as versatile as it is rumoured. Because otherwise we will run into problems as Rafael and Fabio seem very injury prone.

  11. Why isn’t SAF interest in Steven Defour coming to fruition at this most optimal time to sanction that transfer. I personally believe that he can function as the creative fulcrum for our attack, not to mention he can be had a much cheaper price, and has the same advantage of youth. He’s a natural leader with excellent technical ability, creativity, good off the ball movement, and is an all round dynamic midfielder.

    • You make him sound like an attacking midfielder which he is not. Defour is more defensive minded but yes, he is box to box and would be a good signing if not for the fact he spent most of the time the past few years nursing injuries for long periods of time. I think Fergie soured on him because of the injury issues, not wanting another Hargreaves fiasco.

      • My angle was that having Carrick, who prefers to play deep (whether because of cowardice, limited talent or comfort), we could maximize what attacking inclinations Defour does possess. He’d not be nearly as electrifying as Sneijder or Nasri, but he’d get the job done and, as you agreed, he represents an economy buy. I can see the perception that he is injury prone likely prompting Fergie to hesitate, but I not so certain that is perception is accurate. Defour managed 33 appearances in the 08/09 and 27 appearances in the 10/11, with the season in between being when he had a broken leg. That equates to participation in roughly 90% of scheduled games for his club, and where he didn’t participate not all of them are attributable to injury. Perhaps we need to evaluate the quality of our physios because even Saha managed to achieve a period of extended fitness away from Old Trafford. But i see your point

  12. i thought de laet would get first team chances ..but he has been loaned out 🙁

    • Just not good enough mate. A decent little player but with the emergence of the Da Silva twins as well as our depth at CB, he just hasn’t been able to fit in. Still, I would prefer him and John O’Shea at LB over Evra.

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