Is O’Shea really that bad?

John O'Shea

John O’shea had a superb season in 2002/03, slotting in at left back and displacing Phil Neville and Mikael Silvestre in what would be a superb Championship run-in – pipping Arsenal to the title, which in the February looked unreachable. Since then John O’Shea has become known as the utility man – the man who plays when there is something wrong with everyone else – but does O’Shea get too much criticism for this role at Old Trafford now?

The reason I bring this up is that I was fascinated, and i’m sure you’ll be amazed too, that O’Shea has accumulated (jointly) the most appearances for the club this season with 44. He’s played at right back, center half, holding midfielder and left back so far this season – whilst last term he was used as a makeshift striker and before that he went in goal at Tottenham. But he still gets loads of abuse for his performances – despite the fact that he has represented the club the most this season.

I personally wouldn’t have John O’Shea in the first Xi, and I would put both Neville and Rafael ahead of him if both fit. But thats the point – both aren’t fully match fit (I know Neville has just played two games back to back but he didn’t look too sharp last weekend) and Sir Alex is lucky enough to be able to call on a player that obviously wants to play but understands his role at the club. So what do you reckon of O’Shea? Do you see him as this bumbling lummox hobbling up and down the flank or do you remember him as the young lad who made the left back slot his own in 2003 – nutmegging Luis Figo along the way!

8 Comments on Is O’Shea really that bad?

  1. Well, according to Opta statistics, he’s also got the best tackling-ratio! Not Vidic or Ferdinand, but O’Shea. He’s the player that ends up winning the ball most often. Strong in the air, decent on the ball and OK stamina actually makes for a good defensive squad player.

    Tackles? Great. But what good does that do if you constantly give the ball away to the opposition straight afterwards? His distribution (choice of passing, AND execution of the pass itself) is simply put; not even close to good enough. He’s a liability in european matches, where keeping the ball is key. I know it sounds harsh, but we’re supposed to be one of the best teams in the world, and John O’Shea does not look like one of the best defenders/midfielders in the world. I’m happy to have him as a sub (an alternative in crisis) to be honest, but 44 games is outrageous. It’s not poor team selection, and certainly not O’Shea’s fault either.. we’ve just been really unlucky with injuries in these types of positions. He’s currently 4th choice at right back (behind Brown, Rafael and Neville), 3rd choice at left back (behind Evra and Fabio), 5th choice as a central defender (behind Rio, Vidic, Brown, Evans). This sure says a whole lot about our injury-problems in defence this season.

    I wonder what he expects of the next season, when most of our defenders are back in shape? He’ll always get games, but clearly this season has turned out special for him.

  2. Both Gary N and Scholes should retire and Oshea put on sale. They are slow reaction,lack pace and bad defender culprit of ball watching. Whenever these three players were involved MU will start conceeding goals due to their poor performance. Its time to bring out the young players just like Wenger did to his young gunners.

  3. I’d say Hargreaves would be preferred at right back if fit. That’s the real point- how many players better than O’shea would be happy being 5th choice in a position? No one. The fact that we have a half decent dependable option is great and separates united from other teams. It’s bad luck with injuries that gets him games and that’s not his fault.

  4. He is just a decent average player. He cant probably elevate more than we see him do already.

    The worst thing about him is that on nights where you expect the best to play, your heart turbo-races, once o’shea is on a tricky ball.

    I wouldn’t sell Scholes or Neville tho. I think the 4-1 slaughtering the other day’s just messed with confidence so much that average-eis become bad-diees…

  5. What a lot of blind prejudice. His manager has proved he can select winners. Clearly your correspondents know better than Fergie!
    O’Shea is coinsistently effective, Wise up.

  6. Jerry – I can only reply for myself – however I haven’t directly criticised O’Shea, only merely stated that if every player if fit, he wouldn’t be in the team.

    I can see why he has accumulated 44 appearances for United this season – meaning that he is joint top. However, the main reason – regardless of what you think of him or not – is that he has played because others are unavailable.

    Fergie does know more than me, MILES more than me – however the point of blogs/forums/websites is to interact with one another and put your argument across.

  7. Like you, Stretford-end, I was amazed to find out that O’Shea has the most appearances this season. He will never be anywhere near the first XI when everyone is fit and not suspended, but he’s a PERFECT squad-player. He makes a decent contribution in almost any position, never complains when left on the bench and deserves a lot more credit than he gets.

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