Wednesday, 25 November 2009
A fresh opportunity has been presented to Paul McShane tonight. He starts the game because of Bernard Mendy's one-match ban, and he needs to use it to remind everyone of the player he can be.
McShane was brutally superb when he came to the KC on loan last season. The spell didn't last as long as it should have done once Sunderland realised one of their players was helping a direct relegation rival and hoiked him back to Wearside, but for the period he was occupying the Tigers' right back spot, he was effective and excellent and we all wanted him back soon.
His return became more urgent once Sam Ricketts had his summer fallout with Phil Brown and signed for Bolton Wanderers in a huff, but we didn't - or couldn't - get McShane until the dreaded deal to sell off the London-born family silver to Sunderland was completed. McShane was not a makeweight or a condition of Michael Turner's departure, but he did return to us, quite cheaply too, within the same week.
And, well, it hasn't gone well for him. Not helped by being given the captaincy as a mere token by Brown when his second debut for us (and Turner's first for Sunderland) came at the Stadium of Light, the red-haired full back has flattered to deceive. He tackles for fun, which is his main strength - but it is more his saviour right now, as positionally and in possession he has been unremittingly awful.
Sunderland fans did warn us about this, of course. Their beef with him was that he was an aggressor who couldn't actually play much football, and he was prone to brainstorms. There was an own goal against West Bromwich Albion which Mackems use as the main stick with which to beat McShane. For the Tigers, he scored an own goal at Arsenal but, well, there was no blame attached and the subsequent reaction of the team removed any remaining stigma from McShane's person.
His stooping, looping header at Liverpool last season (and strange double-fingered celebration) was one of the most memorable goals of the campaign, but it was just his simple brand of uncompromising defending that endeared the Tiger Nation to him. That element of controlled clogging still remains within this season's McShane, but control in other areas has been absent.
Brown shook up the side with substitutions when the Tigers were chasing the game at Burnley and McShane was taken off. He responded by throwing his drinks bottle angrily across the shale area near the dugout and even though Brown didn't see it, there is no hiding place when the cameras are around. McShane has not started a game since - until tonight.
Mendy hasn't an ounce of McShane's defensive ability, and lacks greatly in common sense when playing at right back. But he is dynamite going forward, unlike McShane. A hybrid of the two would be almost ideal, which is possibly why another right back may yet be in Brown's sights when January comes round. In the meantime, with Mendy in his suit and tie on the sidelines, McShane's mission to regain form and faith gets underway against Everton tonight. He needs to grab it.
Posted by Boyhood Dreams