John O'Shea

John O'Shea
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John O'Shea

Current Club: Sunderland.

Previous Club: Manchester United.

Loan Clubs: Royal Antwerp, Bournemouth.

International: Republic of Ireland 113 caps, 3 goals.

When you consider John O'Shea has won the Champions League, five Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups and five Community Shields, the first thought that comes to mind is how on earth did his teammates manage to do that with him alongside them? It really does beggar belief as, even at his peak, he was never a top class player.

Now 36, he is no longer the utility player that somehow contributed to all those trophies. Now he is Sunderland club captain and a centre back only. However you do wonder what the club were thinking when they gave him the captaincy, as he shows no signs of leadership at all in his game. O'Shea's experience should help him organise his team but sometimes you are left wondering if he has used his double Paddy McGuinness to cover for him while he has a day off at the beach.

Last season, when his teammates needed geeing up and organising defensively, O'Shea would contribute by pointing aimlessly in the direction of opposition players and occasionally clapping his hands together while shouting vaguely motivating phrases. Or perhaps it was McGuinness and the phrases were really his catchphrases? Judging by the effect they had on his teammates, it is difficult to be sure.

A player at 36 is excused for lacking pace, which is something that has never been his forte anyway, but they should have learnt how to use experience and positioning to make up for it, in large part at least. O'Shea has not done that at all. One moment in particular last season showcased his lack of positioning and, for that matter, leadership. It was the midweek next-to-last game versus Arsenal, when the Mackems had nothing to play for, and it showed. Setting up with a back three, O'Shea as the central man, there was a point where Arsenal attacked down their own right side.

The left-sided centre back, Lamine Kone, had been drawn out and was left completely taken out of the game high up the pitch, while the rest of the players had retreated to just inside the 18 yard box. A huge gap had opened up where Kone should have been, O'Shea spotted it, pointed vaguely in that direction, then dropped off away towards the right hand side of the pitch. There was no attempt to take control of the situation by moving forward and forcing Arsenal to make a decision, he never organised the players around him to cover the gap, he just backed away and hid. That summed up all that was wrong with Sunderland under his captaincy. A complete lack of leadership.

O'Shea does have his good points too, nothing outstanding, but he is big and strong, good in the tackle, good in the air and is well-liked by teammates, which is what has led to him getting the captaincy. He is also very willing to listen to his managers and follow their instructions to the best of his ability, which probably goes a long way to explain his success. O'Shea is a good, solid pro, who keeps his name out of the headlines off the pitch but is not blessed with the attributes to be world class. What he has done is make the most of what he does have to offer.