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Opinion: John O'Shea is the man to save Sunderland

The Black Cats lie firmly rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.

O'Shea training with the Republic of Ireland team at Abbotstown earlier this month.
O'Shea training with the Republic of Ireland team at Abbotstown earlier this month.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

SUNDERLAND HAVE CONCEDED 20 goals in just eight games this season in all competitions, and they are showing absolutely no signs of halting that dreadful run anytime soon. On Tuesday night they were thumped 4-1 at home by Manchester City, and although you would possibly forgive them for losing to Manuel Pellegrini’s men, any team that ships four in their own back yard are in danger.

It isn’t a major surprise that the Black Cats find themselves in this position — they finished 16th in the Premier League table last season with 17 draws in the 38 games. It is this seeming inability to get over the winning line in games that has proven so costly so far this term.

One man that will be pumped up for this weekend’s trip to Manchester United is captain John O’Shea, and the 34-year-old Waterford man is in many ways the key to Sunderland’s survival.

Never one to complain, O’Shea’s comments this week following the City defeat are an example of the attitude that will keep the club in the top flight.

“People might accept we conceded four against City — but we can’t, we have to get results. We have the players to hurt teams. But we need to defend together and move forward together.”

The north-east club’s only victory so far this season was the Capital One Cup second round tie at home to League Two outfit Exeter City, and even then they shipped three goals in an entertaining 6-3 win.

Source: ShivDes357/YouTube

O’Shea, of course, spent the glory days of his career at Manchester United and played in every single position at one point or another. During his time at Old Trafford he won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, one Champions League and one Fifa Club World Cup in 393 appearances. It is that experience that the younger players at Sunderland need to draw on in the crucial run-in to Christmas.

Versatility is an attribute so few footballers possess, but O’Shea has it in spades. I certainly don’t mean to wax lyrical about the man, but the fact of the matter is he is key to Sunderland’s waning survival hopes.

If he can kick Younés Kaboul into gear (metaphorically of course) and if Jermain Defoe starts remembering where the goal is, then Dick Advocaat might just be able to perform another miracle and keep the side in the financially lucrative top-flight yet again. O’Shea doing this every so often wouldn’t hurt either:

Source: sagar desai/YouTube

With crucial international games coming up in two weeks time for the Republic of Ireland, it is imperative O’Shea takes his mind off his club woes as the crucial 8 October game gets closer — all he needs to focus on is banging another into the German net.

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About the author:

Shane Hannon

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