2016/2017 stats (for Chesterfield & Sheffield United in all competitions): 2,903 minutes, 34 starts, 9 sub appearances; 11 goals, 1 assist.
The title is a nod to both the growing number of Irish-born players at Bury and also my good friends at A Team of John O’Sheas, who run both an excellent website and podcast. I am also an entrant in the Crayon d’Or, so please vote for me if you like my content!
Not 24 hours after Eoghan O’Connell put pen to paper on a three-year deal to join the Shakers, fellow countryman Jay O’Shea signed a two-year contract in a move I was hoping would come to fruition weeks ago. The 10th permanent player to come through the revolving doors at Carrington since the last ball was kicked in anger, he represents something different to all the other new faces thus far.
As I have previously discussed at length, manager Lee Clark will go for a high-tempo 4-4-2 shape with the wingers acting as inside forwards, pushing up to the strikers when in possession. On the face of it, O’Shea will be directly competing with both Danny Mayor and Zeli Ismail for those places, with injuries plaguing the pair in the previous campaign and already affecting their training regimen at the time of typing during the close season.
However, he’s the only attack-minded player with plenty of senior experience at the club who can fulfill several roles comfortably and should Clark make good on his promise to have more than one strategy up his sleeve, it’s O’Shea he will likely look to first to be the man to sit on the chair when the music stops.
Strong with his left foot and, like Mayor, particularly fond of cutting inside from out wide, O’Shea can help stretch the pitch when deployed there. He will also quite happily operate on the other flank and drift into the channels without the ball to be another option for a teammate to pick out and occupy the opposition’s defence.
He is also more than at home in a central area behind the forwards. Whilst there is little doubt he can be creative, he is equally as likely to try to score himself as he is to try to set someone up. The bulk of his assists actually come from dead-ball situations, which is yet another box that remained stubbornly unticked by any player in a white shirt all season long. Look out for him taking penalties should neither James Vaughan (if he stays) or Jermaine Beckford be on the pitch.
The most intriguing role I think we could see him perform is actually as a deep-lying forward, whose task is to link the second and third phases and ease the burden on his strike partner. This might be the case when Bury are either up against it and need that extra body to come back into midfield to close down any gaps or when Clark doesn’t anticipate to boss possession.
Whilst he made no secret of his desire to remain with the Blades once his loan spell expired, the lack of assurances offered to him by Chris Wilder meant that he had to look elsewhere following his release from relegated Chesterfield. In his prime at 28 and having enjoyed a productive 2016/2017 with both League One outfits he plied his trade with, O’Shea has demonstrated for several years that he has the consistency and versatility required to be a prominent figure in a side gunning for promotion. That aim becomes ever-so-slightly more likely with each promising player Clark brings in at the same time that questions over the financial sustainability grow and grow should that not be achieved immediately. The dice are almost certainly loaded.