O’Shea believes Sunderland can avoid relegation trapdoor
‘We are in the situation where we have to do something about it ourselves’
John O’Shea with Ryan Kirwan, Darragh Keane, Gideon Star, Cole Cunningham, Craig Sheridan, Ellie Meade and Sam Matundo from Corduff FC at the Aviva. Photograph: Inpho
John O’Shea comes over every inch the seasoned pro when refusing to countenance Sunderland being relegated this May, but ask him about who’ll win the title and he starts fumbling and fidgeting like any fan unable to accept the impending triumph of bitter rivals.
After helping to launch the McDonald’s-sponsored FAI Future Football programme yesterday Gary Neville’s suggestion that, for him, being asked to choose between Manchester City and Liverpool for the title was like being asked which one of two men could “nick your wife”, was put to the long-time Manchester United defender. O’Shea seemed similarly stumped.
There was much oohing, a fair bit of ehing, and an acknowledgement along the way that Neville had captured the quandary of it all rather succinctly before, finally, he reluctantly plumped for his old club’s increasingly noisy neighbours.
“I’m sure United fans will be hoping Chelsea can do it,” he said, about as convincingly as Jose Mourinho used to seem about the Londoners not being able to until we began to realise he was probably right, “but it would be slightly City for me, just purely because the Liverpool game was always just a bigger game.”
This, it should be said, comes from a man who used to play with his mates in Waterford while decked out from head to foot in Liverpool gear.
‘Plenty of grief’
“Yeah, that’s the thing alright; the majority of my friends are still massive Liverpool fans. They’ve been giving me plenty of grief but that’s part and parcel of it.
“Obviously having gone to United when I was 17, and stayed there until I was 30, you soon lose any allegiance to another team.”
As the battle at the top of the table plays out over the coming weeks, O’Shea will be somewhat preoccupied by events at the other end where Sunderland are now embroiled in a desperate scrap to avoid the drop after taking just one point from 18 since their last league win, against Newcastle, back on February 1st.
“There is,” he admits, “no point in us hoping that other teams lose; we are in the situation where we have to do something about it ourselves.
“Other teams have difficult games, we have difficult games but winnable ones. There is lots to come, though, and we have the belief in there that we can still do it.”
If they can’t, O’Shea could find himself playing Championship football for the first time in his career and that, he says, is something he will not even think about until the maths make Sunderland’s survival a complete impossibility.