Sam Allardyce has confessed to John O’Shea that he doesn’t deserve to be out of the Sunderland XI, yet the form of centre-halves Younes Kaboul and Lamine Kone has forced his hand.
Sunderland skipper O’Shea has been on the bench for the last five games after Kaboul has been preferred alongside hit January signing Kone.
John’s immensely frustrated because he didn’t deserve to be left out.Sam Allardyce
Kaboul and fellow French-speaker Kone have immediately formed an effective double-act at the heart of the Sunderland defence, with the Black Cats registering two clean sheets in the last three games – their first shut-outs since November.
That has confined O’Shea to the bench, with Allardyce likening the situation to Jack Rodwell’s omission against West Brom earlier this month after he had performed well in the previous three games.
Allardyce said: “I was very reluctant to leave John O’Shea out.
“He picked up a little calf injury when Younes came on and then it was touch and go over whether I left him in.
“John’s immensely frustrated because he didn’t deserve to be left out.
“There’s two players recently who haven’t deserved to be left out, which was John and Jack Rodwell.
“I’ve told them that they’re very unfortunate, although that won’t make them feel any better.
“All the rest when they’ve been left out have deserved to be left out because of their performances.”
Allardyce admits when he makes a change to the starting line-up, it is usually done with a clear method and that can produce positive results when those left out return to the fold.
That was the case after Fabio Borini netted a spectacular equaliser from the bench against Crystal Palace last month, with the Italian starting the last five games.
Allardyce added: “Their performances are monitored by both me and the rest of the staff, and when the stats come floating through, it’s not difficult to say to the player ‘You’re not playing well, here’s the stats’.
“Leaving Fabio out and him getting angry, and coming on and scoring against Palace, shows that those things can work.
“You know you’ve done the right thing when that happens.
“Those are the mind games you play as a manager – to continue to get the best out of them or sometimes to give them a shock that they don’t expect.”