Football FanCast columnist Lewis Doe feels a promise to start John O’Shea if Manchester United reach the
Champions League final is somewhat of a gamble.
This is not the first time Sir Alex Ferguson has made a pledge to start a
player if his side reach the final of European competition for yet another
year. He did it last year with Paul Scholes against Chelsea, but the difference
is that Scholes was better than anyone else in the position he was picked to
For years now O’Shea has kind of danced around the skirting boards of this
current Old Trafford side, never being quite good enough to start but stepping
in when someone fell. The pledge by Sir Alex is a little baffling but then he
is one of the best managers of all time so he must know what he’s doing.
Other players that have made an impact in the United defence this year will
be feeling a little bit aggrieved. Both Johnny Evans and Rafael Da Silva have
held down spells in the side and may feel they have done a lot more than O’Shea
to prove that they deserve the nod in such an important match.
Sir Alex said in The Times today:
“John is one of the great professionals
of our time, the boy never complains. He’s happy to play anywhere. He knows he
hasn’t always been our No 1 choice, but we know he will produce perhaps 30
performances in a season at centre back, midfield, right back, left
“He’s so versatile. That’s his great
value. He hasn’t missed many games this season and if you asked me would he be
in the team if we reach the final, I would say yes.”
There is a funny air around this. The pictures of Rio Ferdinand hobbling off
against Arsenal the other night clutching his ribs may mean Fergie is showing
us his hand early. He may want a reliable and experienced player to step into
the back four if Ferdinand’s rib injury turns out to be a serious one.
The pledge may also mean that there may be one or two little niggling
injuries floating around the United squad. Maybe this is the reason O’Shea has
been put forward as this year’s guarantee for a start.
Whichever way you dress it up it is
difficult to understand why O’Shea has been promised a start if United get to
the final. Other players have given a lot more to the cause this year and
although O’Shea may have kept his mouth shut in the last few seasons and put up
with his fair share of rotation. This doesn’t justify the reward of taking away
a place in the team of someone who would give anything to play in the biggest
match of their life.