When players break into the Manchester United first team, many will dream of emulating icons like Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona.
Others will have slightly more humble expectations, and will just want to be remembered favourably and play for the club as long as possible.
One player who did that was John O’Shea, who won five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup and two League Cups during a 393 game spell for the club.
While O’Shea never quite lived up the the world beater hopes United fans had of him after he nutmegged Luis Figo against Real Madrid in an epic 2003 Champions League clash, he went on to have a very successful Red Devils career.
O’Shea is remembered as a utility man who rarely let United down, playing in various positions in defence, midfield, and comically once even in goal.
After he left the club in 2011 to join Sunderland, United have not quite had a versatile player quite like him. Until now. Step forward Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Fosu-Mensah could carve out a key role
Like O’Shea, Fosu-Mensah broke into the Manchester United team with hopes of becoming a world beater.
A combination of mismanagement, poor loan spells, and a serious ACL injury has cost the Dutchman three years of his United career, and at one stage it looked like he may never play for the club again.
Over the past week he has given his United career new life, after being called upon to fill in at left-back against Crystal Palace.
Fosu-Mensah then came on at right-back in the FA Cup semi-final for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
He was the only defender on the bench capable of filling in at centre-back too, if United had stuck with a three at the back system after Eric Bailly’s injury.
This versatility makes Fosu-Mensah a very useful player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to have on the bench, one who is capable of filling in various roles.
Like the aforementioned cult hero John O’Shea, Fosu-Mensah also has the capability to play in central midfield.
This was where he figured on his comeback for the under-23s this season, and while there is plenty of competition in this area, the Dutchman may yet get a chance in this position next season if injuries hit the squad.
Fosu-Mensah is not near to being first choice in any area right now, but he can carve himself out an important role as United’s utility man, providing he continues to play well.
Over the next season, Fosu-Mensah could play as many as 30 games, many as a substitute, in various roles, as Solskjaer looks to use him where he is needed.
He has a manager who clearly believes in him, with Solskjaer bringing him straight back into the first team squad after his injury, and then calling on him in a crisis ahead of Diogo Dalot.
Considering how bleak Fosu-Mensah’s prospects looked when Jose Mourinho was in charge, and when he suffered an ACL injury in January 2019, the Dutchman will be pretty happy with where he is right now.
He may never live up to the wonderkid billing he emerged into the first team with under Louis van Gaal’s management back in 2016, but he can become a very important part of Manchester United’s future over the next couple of seasons all the same.
Becoming the next John O’Shea is not such a bad moniker for Fosu-Mensah to now aspire to, as he looks to continue his career revival. We await next season’s winner for the Dutchman at Anfield.
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