MANCHESTER ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Wes Brown of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates John O'Shea and Michael Carrick during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 5th round match between Manchester United and Crawley Town at Old Trafford on February 19 2011 in Manchester England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
As reported last night via the usual sources Wes Brown has passed a medical on Wearside and is expected to complete his move to the North East today with fellow Manchester United team mate John O'Shea expected to follow suit with his medical taking place later today - the birth of the Irish International's first child believed to be the only matter holding up any deal.
In what has been touted by some sections of the media as somewhat of a coup for Steve Bruce's Sunderland we look a little closer at what can be expected from the latest additions in what has already been a productive start to SAFC's summer recruitment drive.
Our Wes has spent the entirety of his career as a loyal servant to Sir Alex, often called upon in times when Ferguson's first choice back line has been hit by injury or suspension. I must admit, over the years I can't say Wes has done an awful lot to catch my eye and if anything has flattered to deceive. However, what do I know, I remember being far from impressed when a certain Titus Bramble joined the side and I have since had more than my fill of that humble pie. So let's see what Sir Alex had to say about his loyal defender Wes:
"Without question the best natural defender this club has had for years"
High praise indeed from a man who's CV reads more like my Football Manager resume. Despite being lavished with praise, Brown's career has been plagued by serious injury which long with the signings of high profile players such as Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling, the Da Silva twins and most recently Phil Jones, has found first team football harder to come by than a trophy at St. James'.
Despite these enforced absences Brown has still managed to rack up 361 appearances for the Champions over his fifteen year career at Old Trafford and has a collection of Winners medals that most footballer's would give their right leg for... as counterproductive as that may be.
So, now that Wes is a Sunderland player the big question is where does he fit into Bruce's plans? Brown's flexibility is an obvious attraction to the gaffer, but whether or not he see's the experienced defender as a first team player or more of a dependable reserve remains to be seen. Personally I doubt Brown has left the comfort of Ferguson's busom to be a bit part player on Wearside and expect him to be an important player in Bruce's side.
Personally I would rather we pursued our speculated interest in Birmingham's Roger Johnson and still hope we do, however it cannot be argued that we have bagged ourselves a neat, tidy, dependable and vastly experienced defender, something we so desperately needed last term who is likely to be a cheaper option for the club than pursuing any interest in Onouha, at least on a full term basis.
With O'Shea's signing literally "inches away" according to Steve, I'm going to take the gaffer's word on this transfer and have a look at our second deal of the week. So if Arsenal swoop in at the twelfth hour you can blame him not me!
John O'Shea, more so than Brown in my opinion, really is a coup for the club. The Irish International was a big favourite at Old Trafford and the fact that Quinn and the board have convinced the utility man to take on a new challenge in North East could prove to be an inspired decision. Following O'Shea's winner in the 2009 Champions League Semi Final against Arsenal Sir Alex had this to say about his dependable utility man:
"He is a great professional. The boy never complains. He is happy to play anywhere. He has not always been a number one choice but he produces 30 performances a season and it is a contribution we are grateful for. He is so versatile and offers such great value for us"
O'Shea is a diverse footballer that has covered every position across the field - literally every position - even covering between the sticks when Van Der Sar broke his nose against Spurs in 2007, even managing to thwart his fellow compatriot Robbie Keane in the dying moments of that game.
Possibly the most impressive aspects of O'Shea's United career was how he bounced back from criticism whilst deputising for the injured rent-a-gob Gary Neville in 2005/06 to go on to win back the respect of the fans and become an integral part of the United side. Since that period of "lacklustre" performances O'Shea has gone on to star in the pinnacle of club football, the Champions League Final.
Lets make no bones about it, much like Brown, John has not moved to Sunderland to be a bit part player and I fully expect that Bruce has big plans for the talented Irishman for the upcoming season, possibly occupying the somewhat vacant right back position, or just as easily slotting in anywhere across our back four such is his ability and comfort in a variety of roles. It is this versatility which makes O'Shea such an exciting signing and should we face another injury crisis, which Sunderland being Sunderland is almost a given, we can now rely on the likes of the Irishman to fill in as required and do more than "just a job".
It would also appear that given Craig Gardner's arrival from relegated Birmingham City that we have cooled any interest in Darron Gibson, who if you cast your mind back a few weeks was named as part of a triple bid and, at times, seemed the most likely of the three to sign. There's still every possibility Gibson could sign, but for now it appears to be on the back burner, especially if David Vaughan signs.
So there we have it, two out of three - as they say - isn't bad! Personally I'm very happy with this bit of business by the club. The key for me is the winning mentality that the pair will bring, something that playing for so many years with a side that are there, or thereabouts, each and every season under the tutelage of one of the best managers in the game can only improve or squad.