O’Shea Horror Show Sums Up Poor Sunderland


On this blog, I try and always look for the positives and I very rarely criticise individual players on their performances. I believe football is a team game and that means everyone should step-up and take the blame for bad losses.

Usually I try and reserve my criticisms for those that run the game.

But alas I just can’t sit back and watch Sunderland’s performance against Crystal Palace and not note just how dreadful their captain John O’Shea was!

John O’Shea should be the inspiring leader. He’s the veteran of the dressing room, who has collected five Premier League winners medals, a host of domestic cups and a Champions League title¬†when he was at Manchester United.

That’s the kind of pedigree that should instil confidence amongst his teammates.

But unfortunately for O’Shea and Sunderland, those medals don’t mask the fact that he just isn’t a great defender.

At Old Trafford he was a utility man. He’d be seen mostly on the left-side as a fullback but also got minutes as a centre-back, defensive midfielder, left-sided midfielder and even as a right-back.

But although he has that versatility in his game, he hasn’t really mastered any role.

Now at Sunderland, he’s more often than not played in the heart of defence. But the problem with playing him there is that he can easily be found out and when that happens the chances are that Sunderland will lose.

Against Palace yesterday he was absolutely woeful.

Up against Glenn Murray the Irishman was bullied. Then up against Yannick Bolasie he was outpaced and even out fought.

As a centre-back you either have to be a warrior that won’t be browbeaten or be pacey who won’t be outrun or smart enough to pick the best positions. O’Shea provided none of them yesterday and doesn’t do enough in most games to be honest.

If you look at the goals Crystal Palace scored…

What was O’Shea doing for the first goal? He allowed the Palace striker to win the first header unchallenged. Then he just seemed to watch Glenn Murray and gave the forward an extra a yard. The ball then flies over the defenders head and onto Murray’s. In that position against that type of striker, the centre-back needs to be touch tight!

For the second, he wasn’t marking anyone, so really he should be a slightly ahead of his teammate (Santiago Vergini). Why? Well because he should know that Yannick Bolasie is a speed machine and that given the chance he’ll get behind Vergini and be one on one with the keeper. WIthout a man to mark in that position, O’Shea should be there to sweep up if his defensive partner gets turned. The captain didn’t even burst a gut to get back to the goal-line and try to make a clearance from there. During that goal he offers absolutely nothing to the team.

Well on the third goal John concentrates more on Bolasie than the ball. He got caught underneath the ball, which means he lets it bounce and then has to watch in horror as Bolasie strides past him and brushes off his weak attempts to muscle the forward away from the ball.

The fourth goal is just comedy gold for everyone who isn’t John O’Shea or a Sunderland supporter. He allows the ball to bounce and then Murray is on top of him and powers past him and the defender hits the deck. But rather than sprint back, he jogs and once Bolasie slips whilst beating the keeper, O’Shea is too far out to effectively stop him getting his hat-trick.

Honestly it was a pitiful performance that kind of sums up Sunderland this year. No fight or desire. You can’t just rely on just getting yourself up for the derby games or the odd big match.

Now Sunderland’s problems aren’t all down to O”Shea. Vergini looks extremely vulnerable. Wes Brown never reached his full potential and looks over the hill too. Lee Cattermole didn’t offer enough yesterday and seemed to go missing. While we all know that the strikers don’t get enough goals. But as the captain, you are the one that should lead by example and at the Stadium of Light O’Shea has been found wanting and on far too many occasions.

At the end of this month, John turns thirty-four and it seems to be effecting his legs. He was never the quickest, but he still seems to be losing a yard of pace. He also seems to be a defender that hates the idea of heading the ball!

Once upon a time, Dick Advocaat hauled off Australian internationalist Craig Moore midway through the first half of a game against Kilmarnock. He even seemed to shake the Rangers defender out of frustration that he’d played so poorly.

Make no mistake, Advocaat won’t have mellowed that much since that day at Ibrox in 1999. The performances of his captain and his defensive partner would have Dick in a complete rage. But the Dutchman knows, that at Sunderland, he has no other option but continue with the weak duo as the squad is that threadbare. He can’t even afford to have a real go at his players, in the fear of totally crushing want confidence they have left.

But if Sunderland don’t watch out, then they’ll be caught out. They are still deep in the mire and need more points if they are going to stay out of the relegation zone.

They really need their captain to step up and show he has the will to win. Unfortunately for the ‘Black Cats‘ at the moment John O’Shea looks to be a broken footballer.

One Response to “O’Shea Horror Show Sums Up Poor Sunderland”

  1. The heart of the defence was and is ten years too old and ten yards too slow

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