Tony Gillan: Why John O’Shea’s contract renewal can only be a good thing for Sunderland

Veteran Sunderland defender John O'Shea won't come up against strikers of the calibre of Chelsea's Diego Costa in the Championship this season.
Veteran Sunderland defender John O'Shea won't come up against strikers of the calibre of Chelsea's Diego Costa in the Championship this season.
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If John O’Shea is, as reported, about to sign a one-year extension then Sunderland fans can enjoy the novelty of good news.

The Wearside street party remains in abeyance; but it’s a start.

Obviously the contract hasn’t been offered by the manager. There isn’t one. But someone has acted decisively – and correctly.

Of last season’s squad, a string of out-of-contract squad members won’t be offered new terms, three loanees won’t return (dry your eyes, Januzaj has gone), Pickford won’t be the last sale, while Watmore and McNair still are still working back to fitness.

Something has to be done and retaining O’Shea would be a positive step.

He has been Sunderland’s most dependable player since 2011 and did more than most to keep them in the Premier League for so long.

It’s possible that a new manager could arrive and not want O’Shea. But the contingency is a remote one.

Who better than O’Shea is the new manager, realistically, going to enlist?

In a league where Reading’s Paul McShane is considered one of the better centre-backs, O’Shea may well be the best of the lot.

He has not lost any pace on account of never possessing any in the first place.

His strengths lie elsewhere; not least his huge experience.

To those who would prefer to give youth a chance we ask: why not do both?

And who is the best striker he will face?

There are some decent players in the Championship, but it won’t be Kane, Agüero or Costa.

O’Shea is a fine professional. You don’t play more than 700 games if you aren’t.

Nevertheless, it’s an occupational hazard of mine that my spare time is impinged by people approaching me to relate fairytales about Sunderland players.

I really don’t mind. The drivel is always entertaining and the people in question, for some reason, genuinely believe what they tell me.

With little interest in trivialities like evidence, or the United Kingdom’s libel laws, the hope is that I will go away and submit their romantic fables as fact in this paper. This is hoping for much.

The anecdotes tend to be prefaced with “I have it on good authority,” or “this is gospel”.

Alas, my story-tellers have a tenuous grasp of what constitutes good authority, as well as minimal respect for all Four Evangelists.

John O’Shea’s name crops up regularly in the rubbish I hear, as well as on the internet, as part of the mythical “rotten core” at Sunderland.

This is a non-existent group of players who do nothing except form a cackling coven, formulating new ways to bring the club to its knees while drinking heavily and wringing pay rises; only pausing in their evil agenda to eat the occasional orphan.

This flapdoodle stems from the unofficial delegation, apparently fronted by O’Shea, to oust Paolo Di Canio; an incompetent, stiff-armed bully who should never have been appointed (as reflected by his ongoing unemployment).

All Sunderland fans owe O’Shea some gratitude for that, because, at the very least, it averted certain relegation in 2014.

Championship football would be the height of Sunderland’s ambitions if Di Loonio had stayed.

Di Canio blames anyone except himself (still pretending that he didn’t have final say on all the offal that he signed four years ago), including O’Shea.

But of the many managers, coaches and players that O’Shea has worked with, none that I know of has ever spoken or written disparagingly of him, except Di Canio, whose gibbering on the subject interests only the most gullible.

But for enthusiasts of half-baked conspiracy theories this isn’t good enough.

The views of those who know the player best just can’t eclipse those of taxi drivers, whose brother-in-law once met O’Shea’s dog neuterer and has it, on good authority, this is gospel...