O'Shea: Elation of beating drop right up there with winning title
JOHN O'SHEA says the feeling of joy after escaping relegation with Sunderland was comparable with the elation of winning a Premier League title with Manchester United.
The Waterford man collected five league medals during his trophy-laden stint at Old Trafford but was in danger of dropping out of the top flight as the Black Cats looked doomed a month from the end of the season.
However, Gus Poyet orchestrated a comeback which ensured they were clear of trouble with a game to spare, and O'Shea was thrilled by the achievement.
"You don't get any medals for climbing away from the foot of the table, but I was asked how the feeling we have at the moment compares with collecting a winners' medal," said O'Shea.
"Undoubtedly the elation we are all experiencing has got to be up there. The achievement is all the more satisfying because of the teams we have had to face in recent weeks and the pressure we were under when we were written off.
"We have stood up to it and we are already thinking about making sure that next year, we start off much better so we don't find ourselves in the situation we have just come through."
O'Shea was praised by Poyet for his efforts. The experienced defender had a chequered relationship with the manager's predecessor Paolo Di Canio, who was axed in November.
"We took only one point from the first seven games, so right from the moment the gaffer came in we were chasing teams," he continued.
"But it's to the credit of the head coach and his staff that they have stuck to their guns in terms of how they wanted us to play.
"They have got their ideas across about how they want to see us create chances, and so credit is certainly due to them as well as to the players who have worked hard to put these ideas into practice."
Meanwhile, Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph has spoken of his relief at escaping relegation from the Championship.
The Blues orchestrated a dramatic last-day escape, coming from two goals down to draw with Bolton and get the point they needed to stay safe.
Randolph impressed in his debut season with the Midlanders but did make a dreadful error in that particular game that would have haunted him if it wasn't for the late drama.
"What was I thinking? Shoot me!" he joked. "I obviously wanted just to vanish away.
"While the game was still going on, I was fearing the worst. I was thinking about myself, family, team-mates, staff, fans, people who have been at the club for years losing their jobs. It was horrible – we were on the verge of being relegated.
"I took off running when we scored again, the equaliser – the celebrations were crazy. And I don't know if anyone knew it, but for the last three minutes after that I was just crying, I couldn't stop, just the emotions.
"It was the worst day and the best day, all in one.
"Unless you were there and involved, you can't really explain to anyone.
"The feeling afterwards was something I will never get sick of.
"Personally the season has gone wel. I still look at parts where I wish I could turn back the clock and do things differently. But, overall, I will take the positives from it."