Football

John O'Shea Was Against The 'Sunderland 'Til I Die' Idea From The Very Start

John O'Shea Was Against The 'Sunderland 'Til I Die' Idea From The Very Start

When we think of John O'Shea's club career, his five Premier League winners medals and his 2008 Champions League winning medal at Manchester United are what jump to mind. The Waterford man spent 12 years at Old Trafford and even has the unique honour of having played in every position for the club.

It's hard then to believe that O'Shea also spent a huge portion of his career at Sunderland. Having left United in 2011, O'Shea went to the north east where he played for a full seven seasons at the Stadium of Light before leaving for Reading in 2018. He would captain the club and was even named their player of the year in 2018 - ironically the year Sunderland's fortunes reached a shocking new low, and the whole world was able to see how it unfolded.

In 2017, Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League after ten years in the top division. The club invited a film crew behind the scenes for the following season as they looked to bounce straight back up. Netflix's Sunderland 'Til I Die became a huge hit the following year as we witnessed not a happy promotion race, but a catastrophe, as the club were relegated to League One.

O'Shea participated very little in the show and has said he was against the idea.

Speaking to Sunderland's "Legends in Lockdown", in aid of the Foundation of Light, O'Shea appeared with fellow United and Sunderland alumnus Wes Brown, and spoke about how uncomfortable the players all were with the film crew being let in behind the scenes.

As an experienced pro, O'Shea also understood the kind of mentality that the Sunderland squad would need to have if they were to respond positively to relegation.

The Netflix thing, that's something I would have been against right from the start if asked. But the club decided to do it, and in a sense I'm glad they did because it highlighted how special people around the club are and how passionate the fans are.

But I also thought at that time, it was the wrong thing for the club to do because what we really needed to do was just galvanise, settle down and not open the door to cameras.

Behind the scenes the intentions were obviously to bounce back to the Premier League quickly, and we thought we could do that. But there was just too much going on at the club at the time for it to work, I think.

Look, the club made that call themselves, but I know for a fact a lot of the boys weren't comfortable with it. Having the cameras around, you're never going to act as you normally would.

That's not the reason why we weren't successful that season - far from it. We didn't react to the disappointment of relegation and we just couldn't recover quickly enough to build a good enough squad. That vicious circle of management and squad changes just started again.

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O'Shea also defended his former teammates from the common accusation that Sunderland players didn't care enough in those back to back relegation years, and even in previous years as the ship appeared to be sinking.

"I understand what you're trying to say but I also think generally when you change the squad as much as Sunderland did every season, especially with the quality that we were losing, it just becomes really difficult to go into that well again and dig deep for another survival fight time and time again.

"We were constantly rolling the dice and eventually it was going to go against us.

But the challenges towards the end were tough. The pressures at such a big club, some players found that tough as well. Rightly from passionate fans who spend their hard-earned wages coming to watch us, the expectations were far higher than we were producing. I think some players definitely crumbled.

You can watch the fill interview with Wes Brown and John O'Shea below, and as it was all for a good cause, you can donate to the Foundation of Light here.

When O'Shea left for Reading that summer, Sunderland changed ownership and invited the film crew back for Season 2 from League One and the results were just as good for the viewing public, if not for Sunderland supporters.

SEE ALSO: Heartbreak & Cringe: 9 Standout Bits From 'Sunderland Til I Die' Season 2

SEE ALSO: The Best Moments Of Charlie Methven, The Unrivalled Star Of Sunderland 'Til I Die

 

Michael McCarthy

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