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VIEW FROM THE ENEMY: Sunderland fan on O’Shea’s passing, O’Neill’s future and Rooney’s grudge

Following the celebration of Manchester City’s last minute title win by fans at the Stadium of Light last season, Manchester United have the opportunity to put one hand on the trophy whilst also pushing Sunderland closer to the relegation zone. Depending on results, Sunderland could find themselves 17th in the league if United beat them and Aston Villa win.

“When the final whistle went, we didn’t really know what the score at City was. But then we heard the Sunderland fans cheering,” Wayne Rooney said afterwards. “It was sad to see that because they should be supporting their own team really. They didn’t have the best of seasons so for them to be cheering like that was sad. It was something myself and a lot of the players won’t forget.”

United don’t need any extra incentive to win this game, as we could go 18 points clear at the top of the table ahead of City’s 3pm kick-off against Newcastle, but I’m sure memories of last season won’t hurt in helping us get the job done.

Ahead of the game, Pete Sixsmith from the excellent Salut Sunderland has answered some questions for us.

Scott the Red: What are you feelings on Sunderland’s season?
Pete Sixsmith: It reminds me very much of Baldrick’s War Poem in Blackadder Goes Forth – “It started badly, got no better in the middle and tailed off badly towards the end”. It really has been a disaster and we fear that the worst is yet to come. After you have performed your ritual disembowelling of us, we play Chelsea, Everton and the riff-raff from up the road in quick succession. We could be bottom of the league by mid-April.

STR: Is O’Neill the right man for the job?
PS: If he isn’t who is? We thought he was he perfect fit; experienced in the Premier League and Europe; intelligent and articulate; a boyhood Sunderland fan; a real name to attract better players and move us up the table. At the time of writing he looks exhausted and bereft of ideas, a combination of Lawrie McMenemy and Mick Buxton, our two worst post war managers. The big problem is if he goes who do we look to next? Do you know of any experienced Scottish managers considering a career change?

STR: Ha, you should be so lucky. You can’t have Fergie but you’ve had your fair share of ex-reds. How would you rate the signings of O’Shea and Brown?
PS: Both have been disappointments. Brown looks crocked and has not played for a year. O’Shea is creaking and is in a whole new situation, never having had to wage a relegation battle at Old Trafford. His passing is awful. Was it always thus?

STR: No comment. What did you make of Rooney claiming that the Sunderland game was one of the games he looked for at the start of this season following the reaction of your fans on the last day of the season?
PS: I rarely worry about anything that Wayne Rooney or any other Premier League footballer says. It happened long ago in the mists of time.. I can’t understand fans who harbour grudges. You would never catch me rejoicing in the demise of Coventry City because of a controversial late kick off in the final game of the season in 1977.

STR: If you could have one player from United, who would it be?
PS: The way we are playing at the moment, I would take your whole development squad and play them; t
hey couldn’t be any worse than our current first team. Failing that, Nemanja Vidic, who would scare the rest of our chicken hearted squad into playing to something like their reputations.

STR: What are your predictions for the game?
PS: When we beat you at home, we get relegated (1984-5, 1990-1,1996-7) so I won’t tempt fate by forecasting a home win. A comfortable win (2 or 3 -0) to the Champions elect.

STR: Can we not have a United win and a Sunderland relegation…?

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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32 Comments

  1. Mitch Kramer says:

    will we be resting many notable players ahead of our replay against chels? you’d think RvP and rooney would be starting on monday in london…

  2. olivermills6 says:

    In answer to Pete: yes O’Shea’s passing was always shocking for us too. You should’ve done your homework, was pleased to finally be rid of him even though he was a good servant, just not good enough.

    Don’t moan about Brown, I have nothing but respect for him and injuries aren’t his fault. Maybe I just remember his assist in the Champions League Final :)

  3. kesman says:

    Sunderland fans made me hate d club with passion. I want them to b beaten silly and one of our scorer to raise a shirt written ‘Relegation is ur portion’.

  4. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Seething right now. Danny Mills just on Sky Radio literally just making it up about Rio and why he shouldn’t play for England again. What a tit!

    Danny Mills!? I mean honestly! Press wonder why people can’t make a decent opinion about anything.

  5. Costas says:

    Haven’t watched O’Shea a great deal since his move to Sunderland but his passing wasn’t always awful. He wouldn’t have played as a full back or a midfielder so often if it was. But it is sad to realize that he and Wes are in their declining years now.

  6. wayne says:

    Costas haven’t seen you for a while hope you’re well mate and all the bollocks going on in your country isn’t effecting you to much,hope you’re not one of the poor bastards losing 40% of their savings
    O’Shea and Wes were in declining years when Utd let them go Sir Alex getting rid of a couple of hefty paychecks.Wes had injury problems for years so signing him was always a gamble think the Sunderland fan is being unfair to O’Shea the whole fucking team is shit only as good as the players around you.Watched the Norwich game the other week and even with 10 men Norwich looked the better side,Norwich got fucked that day by bad decisions.Now with a couple of key injuries don’t see them getting better Utd should really get the 3 points

  7. Costas says:

    @wayne

    Hi mate. How are you? Thanks for asking. As you know, things have been rocky in Greece for a while now. But it hasn’t gotten as bad as it has in Cyprus. Not yet anyway. However, there is a worry that a similal haircut in bank deposits will be implement here down the line as well. My family is still coping ok under the circumstances but it’s hard to know what awaits us anymore.

    I remember having conversations with you about that double sale 2 years ago. I did disagree with the decision to sell both players in the same summer but in retrospect, it pains me (because I like them both) to say that you were right. Just like Park, injuries and time sucked them dry. Wes probably can still have the odd combative game, but how often can he stay injury free? O’Shea on the other hand wan’t injury prone but he had a couple of bad injuries in 2009 and 2010 and he hasn’t been the same since. Nothing like the player we saw in 08-09 (and probably one of the very few that did ok against Barcelona in Rome). I also agree about the quality of his current team. O’Shea was never a leader type of player anyway. He could rely on those around him to cover up his weaknesses. It can’t work the other way around.

  8. wayne says:

    i’m being a thick cunt mate thought Cyprus was part of Greece wonder how a country with so much tourist/holiday appeal gets into such a bad way

  9. medumtum says:

    @Costas
    I think you might be selling yourself a little short. Undoubtedly the time to sell Oshea had come, but there were a couple of times when Carrick was playing in defense that the sight of Brown wouldve been a relief. In retrospect he was on the decline but one more season might have helped us out in the short term. Remember at the time he seemed to be making a small comeback but couldnt get a game. Of course given his luck with injuries its highly likely he wouldve been out as well, that defensive injury crisis looked more like a virus than anything else.
    On another note, am not an economist but dont think the EU will allow what happened in Cyprus to happen in Greece. Size does count fortunately or unfortunately. I have tried to keep up with the financial crisis and the only country as leveraged as cyprus was prolly iceland. Greece should hopefully be ok. Wont be easy though and the jackals (banks), as always, will be circling.

  10. Costas says:

    @wayne

    Greece and Cyprus are very similar as far as the Greek element is concerned, but officially they are 2 different nations. Their economies were on different paths and until recently, Cyprus didn’t seem to face the same problems as Greece. But as it turns out, their economy wasn’t built on an ideal business model and to add to that, the 2 biggest Cypriot banks lost a ton of money over the haircut of their Greek bonds. It’s turned into a mess (one I struggle to understand myself) but the way the European Union works, the number of struggling countries will keep growing.

    @medumtum

    That was my main worry at the time mate. Why are we selling two defenders in the aftermath of Neville’s retirement and Ferdinand’s (seemingly) endless struggle with injuries. I know we brought in Smalling and Jones, but the numbers were still not adding up. Rafa and Fabio were also injury prone at the time. And like you said, we reached a point in December of 2011 where Carrick was playing at CB and Valencia was playing at right back. Obviously Wes and O’Shea might have been better options for those games but after watching Park’s performances that season, it did make me wonder how much those two had to offer. Not calling them useless obviously, but as it turns out, a rusty worn down utility player will struggle to make an immediate impact. So was it the right decision to sell them when we did? We’ll never know I guess. I am just glad the defence (in terms of fitness anyway) has looked a lot stronger this season.

    I think you’re right about the EU to a degree. I am not an expert either. I asked someone why things didn’t get so bad in Greece straight away and they told me that Greece’s debt is about 20 times bigger than Cyprus’, so there’s a lot more at stake. They can’t leave the country at its mercy. At the same time, it’s a never ending cycle with no real solution in sight.

  11. olivermills6 says:

    @Costas,

    O’Shea’s passing was pretty dreadful at United, he scored a couple of really important goals (e.g. vs Liverpool) and that amazing chip vs Arsenal, but he was never an important player, and he and Wes both left when they were well into their declining years…

  12. medumtum says:

    @Costas
    Cheers mate. Agree we never will know, and am more than willing to defer to Sir Alex’s judgement.
    As for the EU wonder if its the fact that there are no solutions or whether its the willingness to implement those solutions that is lacking…Another thing we’ll never know. Wish you and the rest of Greece all the best. Just happy we finally have some real football to look forward to.

  13. denton davey says:

    olivermills6 @ 15:38: “that amazing chip vs Arsenal”

    Yeah, the look on O’Shea’s face was damned-near priceless. A perfect “Me ? I did that ?” And let’s not forget that he nutmegged Figo, too.

  14. roboo7 says:

    @denton davey

    just about to say about figo still laugh seeing it now.

  15. Ash says:

    To be frank it was correct decision to sell Oshea, Brown and Park. They had given their whole and had nothing left in the tank. Having these guys were spoiling the development of young players.
    I love scholes even now. No one can pass better than him but I still hope he retires . I would prefer to see powell play more games than scholes. We need to be realistic. I know youngsters should be patient enough but they should get chances.

  16. In David We Trust says:

    Costas – I disagree with Oshea, was an ok player, but I always found him a passenger, at the time united could sometimes carry him, but whenever he played in midfield we looked has one paced, as when scholes plays in the team these days.I was also delighted to have moved him on

  17. Mitch Kramer says:

    off topic, but w/r/t former united players –

    pogba has looked very good when ive seen him play this season. immaturity showed in his sending off against spain, but he still looked full of confidence and deserving to be on the same pitch as the world champs. it is easy to say ‘if he didn’t want to be here, then he can f*ck off’, but this kid is full of talent and he knew it, his agent knew it, and a lot of europe knew it. did SAF not give him enough first team chances because he didn’t want to be strong-armed by a youngster and his agent, or is it possible SAF genuinely did not understand that pogba was ready for the highest level of competition (i think by now, its a given that he was)? in terms of ability as well as potential, i would probably take pogba over TC23 at this point.

    of course you have to fully trust the great managers decision, but it is SO FRUSTRATING that we had a young, athletic central midfielder with enormous potential – who could have held down a spot in the central midfield for over a decade – and now he is contributing to a star-studded midfield at Juventus.

    honestly, good grief. we can’t allow these mistakes to occur.

  18. Costas says:

    @In David We Trust

    Well I’d disagree that he carried his own weight at times. There’s a fair amount of revisionism as far as the guy is concerned. People are letting the last couple of years of his stay at Old Trafford be their impression of his entire United career. Like I’ve always said, if he was that dreadful, he wouldn’t have lasted so long at United. I agree with you about his credentials (or lack thereof) as a midfielder though.

    @medumtum

    Thanks mate. You got the final part right!

  19. Warwick says:

    My favourite memory of O’Shea was against Spurs 2007 when Van Der Sar broke his nose and we’d used all our subs. O’Shea immediately put himself in goal. I was sad when he went – a loyal player – but it was a decision that had to be made

  20. olivermills6 says:

    @Mitch Kramer,

    You would probably take Pogba over Cleverley? Why do you even need to think about it? Pogba is far and away better in almost every way, and he’s a few years younger too. Cleverley is in shocking form, it’s baffling that he’s starting for England and United. Only a fool would have him right now.

  21. MansionOfTheReds says:

    @oliver

    if a couple of games determines a player’s worth, then thank god saf is our manager and not u.

  22. Mitch Kramer says:

    @oliver

    i dont know if clevs is in SHOCKING form, but he certainly hasnt lit up the league. he put in a good shift against madrid at OT, and he is willing to fight for the cause, thats for sure. but yes, cleverley does not look to be up to the level that Pogba is preparing to surpass. cleverley is a good player but i find it hard to imagine him ever being a serious attacking threat to opponents like lampard/stevieG have been over the years, for example, or anything like mesut ozil seems to be today. and i dont think he has the poise or overarching understanding of the game to be a player along the lines of carrick or perhaps even a modric. Clevs has done well and fought hard for us this season but im beginning to fear he will be little more than a role player. but “only a fool would have him”? TC23 deserves a bit more respect than that

    @MansionOfTheReds

    Maybe SAF should have given Pogba a couple more games before deciding keeping him at the club wasnt worth fighting for. honestly, how do we let such raw talent go unappreciated! pad their egos if you have to, its annoying but its the way it works these days. we didnt give pogba a legitimate chance to show what he could do, he felt undervalued, and he left. and really, how could SAF not be responsible for most of this unfortunate scenario.
    …he gets a jail out of free card, though, since he is the best manager of all time. and of course, these tough decisions must be made and sir alex needs to maintain the appearance and the reality of having firm control over team affairs.

  23. mara says:

    @ wayne you should be happy about Costas if they charge him 40% of his saveings. That means he is a rich bastard:-) hahahaha its better 40% from something, then 5% from nothing:-)

  24. mara says:

    @ Mitch Kramer
    I totally agree about Pogba. My opinion in situation with Pogba was about Saf s ego. He didnt want be on the presure about Pogba s agent, and didnt gave him a chance.
    First, it is hard to find a good player. Second, clubs wont sell good players. Third, they are expensive like hell. And no one in the world cant tell me that letting Pogba was good idea. It wasnt!
    I remember that Ronaldo once was angry coz Saf substituted him and took his shirt off and trough on the floor. Saf didnt sell him right away. Why? Because he had the best player in the world. There is always exceptions, and Pogba was exception. All Europe see him as talent and we dont.
    But now some fans will tell that we won the league without him..but that is not argument. That kind of player gonna cost us 20-30 mills, and lot of wages, if club will sell him, and if he wants to come. And that guy could cost 1-2 mills a season. We will pay 20 mills for fee, and 2-3 mills for wages…so what is cheaper?

  25. Costas says:

    @mara

    Sad but true, lol. I would never be in the 40% club anyway. Not that rich.

  26. Anthony says:

    O’Shea was there to defend first and foremost and in that respect he never let us down. He kept it simple giving simple passes to players he knows can play. He probably thinks he has to do more where he is now. As for favourite O’Shea moment would have to be his winner in front of the Kop.

  27. JT says:

    off topic: Barca’s Thiago Alcantara seems he’ll be on the move this summer. That could make up for the pogba loss. What do you lads think?

  28. King Eric says:

    Can we leave the subject of fucking Pogba alone? That greedy cunt will join up with PSG soon mark my words. He doesn’t give a fuck and nor should we. If he wasn’t bitter WHY does he mention United at every turn? Fuck him we have lost FAR better players than him. He is irrelevant in our history. Played about 20 minutes yet some make out he is a genius and integral to United. I won’t lose any sleep. Give me Clevs all day who knows what its all about to play for United.

    As for O’Shea a great servant and reliable whenever called upon. to say he was not important is laughable.

  29. King Eric says:

    I am sorry but some United fans just “don’t get it”. Its more than fucking talent alone its character and attitude and everything. Pogba is a cunt.

  30. JT says:

    I am 100% with you King Eric. We have lost far better player players. It’s just that we’ve still got an issue with that midfield slot. And no matter how well Clevs plays, he still has to nail down that postion and make it his. Until that happens, there’s a void to fill. Thiago Alcantara will be a good acquisition, imo.

    http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1392572/father-thiago-hopeful-barca-exit?cc=5739

  31. Mitch Kramer says:

    @King Eric,

    Pogba doesn’t give a fuck or he is bitter? When you make an argument it’s best not to contradict yourself. and just cause we have lost far better players than him doesnt mean that losing pogba doesn’t matter or we shouldnt care that we lost an extremely talented player in a position where such talent is lacking. if you think pogba left primarily because of money and not playing time you’re naive, he wouldnt have gone off to italy if he felt he was being treated fairly. i never said he was integral to our team, i said he was never given the chance to be integral to our team.

  32. mancunian says:

    Best O’shea moment has to be kop end winner!

    Look at the picture of it love seeing the Mickeys faces classic

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