O'Shea has a point to prove
Published 23/08/2015 | 13:53
Sunderland skipper John O'Shea has urged his team-mates to use their first point of the season as a springboard to ease themselves up the Barclays Premier League table.
The Black Cats belatedly opened their account for the campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Swansea on Saturday and showed commendable resilience to claw their way back into the game after falling behind.
It was not the win head coach Dick Advocaat craved after desperately poor performances in defeat by both Leicester and Norwich and they remained at the foot of the table on goal difference, but it was a start.
O'Shea said: "The negative vibe around because of such poor performances has not totally gone - we didn't win, we got a draw, but it's something to start with."
The home side started the game well, but fell behind on the stroke of half-time when their concentrations slipped and Bafetimbi Gomis pounced to convert Kyle Naughton's pass for his third goal in as many games.
However, Sunderland were back on level terms with 62 minutes gone when Jermain Defoe fired past Lukasz Fabianski from Jeremain Lens' through-ball, and they might have claimed all three points in a rousing finish during which they might have been awarded a penalty for handball against Ashley Williams.
All in all, it was a much improved display from Advocaat's men, with O'Shea's leadership and organisational skills proving invaluable on his return to the team after being named only among the substitutes for the opening two fixtures.
The Republic of Ireland international said: "Look, it's one of those things. The manager is the manager. I have always been brought up in the way that you have to respect the decision of the manager.
"I do my stuff in training and if he is going to pick me, he is going to pick me. That's the way I have always kind of done things.
"I was obviously delighted to come back in and help the team anyway I can. But more importantly, the squad a s whole, we have to have that attitude if we want to succeed in the Premier League.
"Yes, everyone wants to play, but as the manager will always say, he's going to have to disappoint a few people. That's just the Premier League."
Advocaat hopes to increase that competition further during the remaining days of the transfer window and sent a fresh message to chairman Ellis Short, who had earlier used his programme notes to hit back at criticism of his reign, after the final whistle.
The Dutchman said: "We still need something, and hopefully our president will realise that as well because you cannot bring that every week."
Opposite number Garry Monk headed back to South Wales bemoaning the two points that got away, but was satisfied with his side's start to the season.
He said: "At this moment in time, I think as a team we are a handful. That's the way we set up, it's the way I want us to play.
"We are aggressive without the ball and we will try to be aggressive with it as well. Unfortunately, we didn't the get three points we probably should have had."