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Manchester United Players

Why We Love John O’Shea

I’ve been trawling through pages randomly when I bumped across this article on the Telegraph. It started off like the usual articles one gets to read on the back of a great performance by United. The usual stuff — on this occasion, bringing Rooney’s birthday into perspective, as if his day had an astral significance on events that unfolded in Kiev — punctuated the article, with facts that United’s injury ‘crisis’ hasn’t really affected their play.

But it was towards the end of the page that I came upon these quotes from our Utility Man.

“Stretched to the limit” was how John O’Shea described matters, though the Irishman is at his most valuable when Manchester United are at breaking point. On Tuesday night he was first asked to fill in for Scholes and then shifted to left-back to cover for Patrice Evra. […] ”It’s always going to be like that for me,” O’Shea said. “I was due to start the game in midfield but played most of it at left-back and then finished in midfield. I just enjoy being in the team. ”There’s a great strength in depth to this squad; that’s without doubt a difference between this squad and previous ones. We’re getting stretched to the limit at the moment but we have some good young lads as well.” […] “Without doubt, some teams are scared of us. Nights like this really make the opposition aware of what we’re capable of. When teams come to Old Trafford they like to play five in midfield and play for the draw, but with the attack we have they’re going to be very wary just trying to defend against that lot.”

Now any player, deep down, would like to start every game possible for his team. A prolonged time warming the bench would only fan the flames of discontent. However, some players recognise their role in the team. In fact, much of the team’s success is down to these players; the only thing is that their importance goes unnoticed because of the kind of job they are expected to do for the team.

John O’Shea’s quotes, especially when he said, “It’s always going to be like that for me” and “I just enjoy being in the team” is another such instance of selflessness seen in a player for the team’s cause. But that is not just it. It is also extremely honest of him to say such things. True, he is a limited player. He has been known to give the ball away at times and has been frustrating in general for a lot of fans. But there are things about O’Shea that does beg a hearty laugh, at least.

He had shown tremendous promise in the 2002-03 season. However, things didn’t stay that way. But he sure did nutmeg Luis Figo, he played as a ‘keeper for us, he chipped Almunia when we beat Arsenal 4-2 and, more recently, scored against the ‘dippers in a late, late goal last season, when we were playing absolutely shite. He’s had the highest shots to goals conversion last season in the League. (80%!)

It’s a little wonder that he played 40 games for us, in a demonstration of how valuable he was, last season. More significantly, we finished above Liverpool in the 05/06 with a midfield of Giggs and O’Shea/Fletcher for most part of the second half, when Scholes was out with blurred eyesight.

The joy he gets for just wearing the red shirt is something a manager would want from his players. He is a manager’s player — someone who would play in any position if his manager tells him to and without any misgivings. O’Shea enjoys it, and it’s worth remembering his role in our team especially with the kind of injury situation we are faced with at present.

And that’s why we love O’Shea; despite the moments of madness, despite being, well… average. He would never set the world on fire by going on mazy runs. He would never boss a midfield like Scholes. But he would play to his limits when we need him the most. And he would enjoy it every bit, thanking everything in the world that he has the chance to wear the Red shirt.

And for that he wins my vote. Here’s a tongue-in-cheek video to jog those memories. Enjoy!

Note: For those wondering why I didn’t have a match report out, I missed the game thanks to some pressing work. You see, I have a personal life too! But thanks to the power of the internet, I could catch the extended highlights. And some of you might find this link interesting — yes, all 11 minutes of it.