John O’Shea is aware that league survival is everything

The Sunderland defender was speaking to Off the Ball after the loss to Manchester City

BY Rob Fanning 12:46 Monday 6 March 2017, 12:46 6 Mar 2017

Sunderland remain at the foot of the Premier League table despite an encouraging performance against Manchester City.

On Sunday evening, John O’Shea spoke with Off the Ball presenter Nathan Murphy, after the Waterford native's side lost 2-0. Sunderland made a really promising start and everything seemed to be going to plan until Sergio Aguero popped up in the 42nd minute to give City a lead before half-time.

Making reference to the goal O’Shea said, "up until the goal everything had gone to plan but we all know they have serious quality".

"You know then at half-time the next goal is crucial. We started off the second half not too bad. We actually had good possession of the ball and next thing two passes later, [Leroy] Sane has rifled it into the far corner. We stuck at it. We had to push that bit more to get that chance."

"We wanted to get something from the game because we know the position we are in is a tough one but we have games coming up that we feel we have to start winning matches."

Speaking about Sunderland’s ambitions to stay in the Premier League, O’Shea said, "our challenges to stay in this league won’t be decided against Manchester City. The games that we have left now are our cup finals."

Former Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce left at the start of the season and was replaced by David Moyes. The Irish international said the team initially struggled with the change in manager so close to the start of the season.

"Obviously going back to the start of the season you think you have a manager in place who is going to settle things down, get his signings in and next thing he's gone to be the England manager. It’s a whole turnover of players again. A new manager in and new ideas again. We’ve had to cope with it throughout the years and we’ve done it."

Sunderland found themselves in a similar position last season and remarkably they only lost once in their last 11 games of last year's campaign.

At the age of 35, O’Shea has had an incredible career having previously won 15 trophies at Manchester United, including five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Irishman realises that he is coming to the latter stage of his career and he understands the importance of enjoying what time he has left. “Exactly, you have to enjoy it. Yes you would want to be in a more comfortable position in the league, but when you get to the age I’m at it’s so important to keep yourself fully fit. It was a tough one at the start of the season, you come in late and you try to play catch up. If you pick up a little niggle, it takes you that bit longer to recover."

“Without a doubt I am enjoying it. My goal has always been to play in the Premier League and I want to stay there."

Ireland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Wales later this month, as Shane Duffy will miss the game with a broken foot. This should open the door for O’Shea as he will be looking to make his 117th cap for his country.

Speaking about the mood surrounding the Irish players, the defender said, "it’s great to see the atmosphere amongst the Irish squad, because of the start we’ve had and also the momentum we have carried from the Euros. There has been a huge demand for tickets and I’m sure the FAI wish they could somehow expand the capacity of the Aviva Stadium, because they could easily sell 100,000 tickets for that one."

Ireland are top of Group D on ten points, sitting four points above Wales and both sides will meet on Friday March 24th in front of sold-out Aviva Stadium.

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