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Manchester United v Barcelona: John O'Shea expecting star role in Rome final
Published : 27 May 2009 08:59:46
Five of his players had just been named on the six-man shortlist the PFA award, ultimately won by Ryan Giggs, but O'Shea's name was absent from the list. The Irishman, who has clocked up almost 350 senior appearances for United during his decade of service at Old Trafford, does little to catch the eye of those outside the confines of the United dressing-room. He has filled every position across the back-four and in midfield and he once even donned the gloves to replace Edwin van der Sar in a Premier League fixture at Tottenham following a nose injury sustained by the Dutch goalkeeper. O'Shea has been Ferguson's flexible friend, but one that has melted into the background when the biggest games have forced the manager to select his strongest team. Yet having scored in the semi-final victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford, O'Shea confirmed his elevation as the man for the big occasion and, finally, Rome will see him emerge from the shadows. O'Shea said: 'The manager said something a few weeks ago but I wasn't really listening. When he talked about me playing in the final, my ears perked up a bit. 'You could say it is a reward for my patience, but this year, I've had a good few chances and thankfully it's gone ok. 'I always felt that, whether I would be playing a big part of bit part, once I got a run in the team I would be able to show why I should stay in the team. I feel I've done that.' Only Nemanja Vidic has made more appearances for United than O'Shea this season. A year ago, the 28-year-old had to watch from the bench as Chelsea were defeated on penalties in Moscow. He said: 'It is difficult to take when you are not playing, but when the team wins, even if you are not in the starting XI, you give your support to the lads that are playing. 'That will be the case again this year with those that aren't involved. 'It's the manager's man-management that makes you feel involved. It's little things, which stem from his experience, and he is the best in the business at it. 'I would never just stay at a club for the sake of winning a medal, though. I would never do that. 'I would have to play a part. You just want to play as many games as you can, no matter which club you are at.' With Barcelona blessed with attacking options, O'Shea concedes that United will be faced with more defensive problems than usual in the Olympic Stadium. But he has warned Pep Guardiola's team not to expect to have it all their own way. 'When you watch them at the Nou Camp, the teams try to attack Barcelona and leave themselves open to the counter-attack.' O'Shea admits. 'Obviously, with the amount of goals they have scored, we are not going to be attacking too much. We know they have huge attacking strength, but we are not too bad ourselves.'