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Johnny O’Shea or Rafael at Right Back?

Written by gloryglorymanutd

We did a post recently on 10 ways that United can regain form. One of the points was that we needed to, wherever possible, keep our best defence playing week in-week out with each other. Our defence was set in stone in 2008/2009 when in total, Van der Sar went 1,311 minutes without conceding in the league. I would like to see this type of stability re-instated in the United side as it is something that has clearly been missing this season. This campaign has seen our defensive unit vary hugely and as a consequence, we have leaked plenty of goals.

It has clearly helped having Rio back in the side as his return signaled two clean sheets in a row. For me, three of the four in defence pick themselves with the only question mark at right back. Yes, Evra hasn’t been at his blistering best this season but it will come and he is still our best left-back by a country mile. The real decision lies at right back. Fergie has varied his selection here this season but has plumped for Johnny O’Shea more often than not.

I have been critical of O’Shea at times this season; one of the reasons being I was sitting about 10 yards away from him for the second half against West Ham when Dyer continually skint him. However, I am a fan. His game has progressed massively in recent years and he is now capable of great supply as well, most notably for that Berbatov goal against Liverpool. He understands the game and is comfortable on the ball. Having said this, I am not convinced the Irishman is the answer at right back.

O’Shea suffers from that familiar stigma  – ‘Jack of all trades but master of none.’ He is more than competent but as a specialist right-back, Rafael has the potential to be world class. O’Shea doesn’t. I don’t think big John is quick enough at the highest level for the position. Rafael is certainly raw and is prone to rash mistakes; Bayern Munich last year obviously being the prime example. He will learn from experiences like these though. The boy has pace to burn, a good delivery and is potentially devastating as an attacking right back.

Admittedly, he is not quite there yet defensively. His positioning can be suspect and he doesn’t exactly have the coolest of heads. Surely though, playing with Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra every week would accelerate his progression greatly. I think its time to give Rafael an extended run in the team in that position . My guess is that we would watch him grow as a player immeasurably. I think John O’Shea is a good player and a massive asset to the club but Rafael has the potential to be special. Let him loose.

So who do you think should start at right back? Please leave your opinions below….



  1. carlnorth

    October 12, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Raphael all day. O’Shea does a decent job in filling in (all over the pitch) but he should never start a game for United. He is not, and never will be, of the quality we should be putting out in a first eleven. And……Smalling should be 3rd choice centre half (he’s a class act) over Johnny Evans.

  2. Emmanuel

    October 12, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I agree with you guy,let Rafael to us how best he is for the right back position.

  3. Xyth

    October 12, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Rafael or Wes Brown are better options than O’Shea!

  4. Emmanuel

    October 12, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I agreee with you guy,Rafael is better than Oshea.

  5. Johnny

    October 12, 2010 at 10:46 am

    They need to buy Maicon. Neither O’Shea or Rafael are good enough. Brazilian who makes mistakes and Irishman who is slower to turn than the titanic.

  6. Olivier

    October 12, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Of course Rafael is better than o’shea.i think sir alex wanted stability at the defence and o’shea was an option at the back because ferdinand was not fit and evans need times to perform in league cup or fa cup to compete with smalling and Rio.wishes rafael regain his places in 11 starter because ferdinand is back.

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