O'Shea: United will find road map
John O'Shea is urging Manchester United to stay strong as they look to put their away-day blues behind them. United have failed to register an away win in four attempts so far this season. Taken in isolation, Saturday's stalemate at Sunderland was not too much of a disappointment given the Black Cats held Arsenal at the Stadium of Light earlier this season and United went into the fixture on the back of a testing Champions League trip to Valencia. However, having tossed away victories in the final minutes of matches at Fulham and Everton, then been unable to exert their superiority at Bolton, suddenly United find themselves embroiled in an unwanted game of catch-up, five points behind leaders Chelsea and also trailing neighbours Manchester City at this advanced stage of the campaign for the first time in 20 years. Sir Alex Ferguson's side were outplayed for long periods on Saturday but O'Shea is remaining resolute. "The away form has been disappointing but I can see that turning around very soon because of the quality and experience we have," he said. "We won't know whether these draws are a concern until the end of the season. "But at Manchester United, it has always been the case that if we draw two or three games it is a crisis, people say the empire is crumbling. "We are used to that. It happens every season. It is about proving the critics wrong." If there is comfort to be drawn from the present situation, it is that matches are not being lost. United suffered seven defeats last term, yet still only missed out on the Premier League title by a single point. So far, they are yet to lose this season, one of only two clubs, Fulham are the other, to be in that position. "You do take some comfort from the fact we haven't lost, but we were ahead at Fulham and Everton and should have killed those games off," said O'Shea. "But we are more than capable of going on a long unbeaten run and turning those draws into wins." In that regard, United should emerge stronger from the latest international break. Although there are midweek fixtures to be played in November and February, Ferguson will not lose his men again for an extended period until the end of March, by which time their campaign will have been shaped. "It is going to help us when the international breaks are over," said O'Shea. "At the start of the season, you build up a bit of momentum, then there is a two-week break, followed by another a couple of weeks later and we do seem to be affected more than most." United do return to a home game, against West Brom on October 16. Their next away game is at Stoke, not the easiest place to get a victory, yet somewhere United have won on their last two visits. After that, the trips are to Manchester City and Aston Villa, when confidence gained from that triumph in Valencia will need to be called upon. "We have to use our experience," said O'Shea. "The manager is going to need to get certain games into certain players to make sure we still have the freshness needed to compete in all these competitions."
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