O'Shea: Why I always felt Solskjaer would manage

Monday 06 April 2020 17:40

Manchester United legend John O’Shea makes a special appearance in today’s ‘MUTV Group Chat’, to reflect on his trophy-laden career as a much-loved Red at Old Trafford.

The Irishman became known for his versatility, but was an excellent player in his own right and literally won every major trophy that was up for grabs during 10 full seasons with the first team, making 393 appearances and scoring 15 goals – including a very famous winner at Anfield! 

O’Shea is now part of Reading’s coaching staff, as he enhances his education with a view to becoming a manager in the future. During the ongoing current break from football, we caught up with the 38-year-old to discuss the past, his present and what the future might hold in store. 

As you can read in this exclusive Q&A, John is also full of praise for his former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and explains exactly why the United boss was always set for management…

John, firstly, we're delighted to see you on the MUTV Group Chat. How are you?
“I'm all good thanks, for the strange kind of world that we are living in at the moment. All of the family are good, keeping safe and we are doing okay down here.”
MUTV Group Chat with John O’Shea Video

MUTV Group Chat with John O’Shea

We caught up with former Red John O’Shea, who’s been keeping busy since retiring from football last summer…

You are involved with Reading as a coach, but like everybody else, there is nothing you can do...
“No, there's nothing we can do at the moment. Thankfully the weather has been okay so we've been able to get out into the garden, keeping the kids busy, getting some exercise in and using up some of that endless energy that they seem to have at the moment. I have seen lots of good videos, showing what parents and families have come up with to keep them entertained, so we've been trying our best to keep up with that.”

Are you enjoying the coaching side of things? I saw you are going to be involved with Ireland as well, with the Under-21s...
“Yeah, it is obviously something that I was looking to do when I finished up playing. To get the chance to go with Reading's first team was great and I'm enjoying it very much. Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki are looking after me – they are very experienced lads, and we have a good squad at the moment, who are ready. We are hopeful, whenever we do get back to finishing the season, that we can kick on a little bit as we have some talented players. I am enjoying working with them. I am in charge of the set pieces, attacking and defending, so we are doing okay on that front. I miss playing games, I don't miss training, but the adrenaline does get pumping on the sidelines as well.”
It's nine years since you left United! Does it feel like that?
“No! Look, because of my connections with MUTV, popping up every now and again, and seeing the lads quite regularly, being in touch with some former team-mates, it doesn't feel as long as that. As Wes would testify, we had a challenging spell up at Sunderland after United and that was the contrast of two clubs, in the sense of challenging and fighting. I think that experience will hopefully be a good example of what I have to face in the coaching world as well, because it is not just total success.”

Are you glad you're not in the current series of Sunderland 'Til I Die?
“I have not managed to watch any of it... I wasn't in much of the first one either [laughs]! I wasn't a fan of that idea, as such. But I am just glad the people at the club, behind the scenes, have come out well from it. The canteen people, the secretaries and what have you, the people who do all the hard graft. They are the stars of the show, really.”

It must have been weird for you and Wes when you went to Sunderland...
“Yeah, it was very strange. Wes was panicking for a minute because he thought I wasn't going to sign [laughs]. He was ringing me. My wife had gone into labour and I said to Steve Bruce that I'd get everything sorted. We just wanted to make sure everything was okay. My eldest, Alfie, was two weeks overdue and Brucey must have thought I was up to something, that I didn't fancy it! I was just waiting for the baby to arrive.”
Watch our 'All The Angles' treatment of O'Shea's famous goal against Liverpool at Anfield.
If you become a manager then, is Wes going to be your number two?
“It's a done deal, Stewart, it's a done deal. It's been done for about 10 years!”

Do you think you will become a manager then, at some point?
“Definitely, that is the aim, to get managing, but I just want to do it this way, to learn the ropes, learn from good people, get an understanding of it and not jump in straightaway. I know it works for some of the lads, they just get experience straightaway, but I just prefer to do it this way, to learn, advance slowly and see how it goes.”

What do you think of United now with your former team-mate Ole in charge?
“He's had that initial burst when the run was incredible and he went through a few injuries to key players, but Bruno Fernandes coming in seems to have given everybody a huge lift. That has coincided with the team going on a fantastic run, looking very threatening again and that is without Marcus Rashford, who has proven to be a big player. Unfortunately the unforeseen circumstances have hindered everyone a little bit, especially Ole, but it's a chance for some of the boys who are missing to get back in and be available. That will be a boost for everyone and hopefully we can push on for that top-four spot.”
O'Shea once cameoed as United's goalkeeper in a big game against Tottenham.
Ole was still at the club when you were there – did you think he might go into coaching, or has it surprised you?
“No, it didn't surprise me. He was always very analytical. He was always analysing everything and that is why he was quite successful coming off the bench, because he was that type of lad. The couple of injuries really made his mind up that he wanted to go in that direction, too, so it didn't surprise me that he went into coaching or management. The type of personality that he is lends itself more to the current generation, that he can be that bit more relaxed but also very serious and a fierce competitor like he was as a player. He has that side to him as well, when it is needed.”

We mentioned everything you won at United – the full set! But most fans will go straight to that winner at Anfield and nutmegging Luis Figo. What do you look back on?
“When you win your first league title. I remember being involved in 2002/03 and that was very special. All of them are. But when you do score a winner against Liverpool, because of the history of the clubs, it is huge. So that is high up for me. There were a couple of goals against Arsenal as well, which are high on the list. I didn't score too many goals but the ones I did were quite important.”
This video features one of O'Shea's best goals, against Arsenal at Highbury.
Finally, in our latest Match Rewind vote, the topic is European away wins. There are four games to choose from and you played in three of them! The 3-0 at Juventus in 2003, the 2-0 at Roma in 2008 and the 3-1 at Arsenal in 2009, plus PSG a year ago. Which will you vote for?
“I would probably just lean towards Arsenal away, but PSG was obviously an amazing comeback quite recently. I will always remember Giggsy got a bit of grief for his goal celebration at Juventus, because he was pointing to his name at the time after he scored, and I was thinking: 'Surely everybody knows you by now, Giggsy – you don't need to point at your name.' But it was an amazing goal. That header from Ronaldo was brilliant against Roma as well. It reminds me of when Wes crossed it for him in Moscow as well, and the height he is able to get on those jumps has become his signature.”