John Giles: The time is right for duo to move
Regular football vital for Irish pair
JOHN O'SHEA and Darron Gibson have choices to make this summer and one, which for obvious reasons, involves a leap into the unknown. It's hard to leave Old Trafford.
I know this is a subject which I've dealt with before but I think the circumstances are a bit different now – and perhaps it is time for both players to reassess their goals and ambitions and consider a new club.
I had intended to write about the season past in more general terms but I think O'Shea and Gibson's dilemma wraps up many of the big issues which we've seen in the Premier League for the past nine months or so.
Rotation at the top and a dogged battle for survival at the bottom are the realities of the Premier League and in between are a group of professional footballers earning big money to finish in mid-table.
That group is shrinking. Liverpool are spending, Manchester City will keep up their mad-money recruitment policy and Spurs have lifted themselves out of mid-table.
At the other end, more and more seem to be involved in the relegation battle every season so why would O'Shea or Gibson leave their comfort blanket behind?
Any good player will take stock at the end of a season and have a decent mental picture of how well they got on at their club.
Injuries were a problem for O'Shea, which is a pity because he had achieved an excellent level of consistency and performance up until the World Cup play-off in Paris in November 2009 – and looked to have fully justified his decision to hang in and make himself useful until Alex Ferguson felt he could make him first choice.
When Ferguson came to the final games of the season, he left Gibson kicking his heels once the easy part of the Champions League semi-final against Schalke 04 had been negotiated at Old Trafford.
O'Shea, on the way back to fitness, played in the second-leg against Schalke too and played for 45 minutes of the title decider against Chelsea. After that, blank.
This is the point. When you are a Manchester United player and it comes to the last four or five games of the season, you can be certain that at least one or two of them will involve a trophy.
The whole point of playing the game is to be involved in those final games. They bring the glory and honour and, as a result, the rewards.
O'Shea reached an accommodation with himself some time ago and decided that he was committed to a Manchester United career. He has played a significant part in the team but not as full a role as, say, Nemanja Vidic or even Patrice Evra.
Then he reached the end of a season and found himself detached from the biggest day of them all at Wembley Stadium, wearing a suit while Manchester United contested the Champions League final with Barcelona.
I've always said I understand why O'Shea has followed the path he has chosen but a part of me would always question his decision. He should be in his prime now and I would want to be playing as much football as possible at that point in a career.
Where Gibson is concerned, it's a no brainer. He's now at an age where he really needs to be playing a lot more football than he has been playing or his talents will wither.
We've seen the transfer market take off in an unbelievable way, with Liverpool paying £20m for Jordan Henderson, and I'm sure Gibson will be able to find a club willing to match or better his Old Trafford salary. So it's not about the money.
The market will be very busy indeed as we've seen already and many Irish players could be on the move. Gibson should be one of them.
I'm pretty sure we will see Ferguson invest in a couple of quality midfielders this summer and they will immediately jump Gibson in the pecking order. It's not as if he's too far up the list anyway.
Whether it's Sunderland, which has been mentioned, or perhaps somewhere more salubrious, he should do himself a favour, cut the cord and go find himself some football to play.