The similarities between current Waterford FC manager John Sheridan and six-time world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan are not immediately obvious.
One is arguably the greatest snooker player ever to pick up a cue. The other had a very solid footballing career, which reached the heights of winning a League Cup (in which he scored the winner) and the 1996-’97 English First Division (second tier) as well as of course playing at two World Cups (1990 and ’94).
So, while O’Sullivan has won absolutely everything his sport has to offer on multiple occasions (including setting some amazing records such as the fastest ever 147 break), Sheridan’s career by no means reached similarly comparable heights.
There was however a close similarity between the two over recent days. Both men expressed for me, rightly or wrongly exasperation at the current state of their respective sports and more specifically, the current working situations they find themselves in. Sheridan in particular in my opinion expressed frustration at his current standing in football.
O’Sullivan was the first to decry the state of snooker, having beaten Ding Junhui, the 44 year-old lamented that the standard of snooker was so bad at the moment that he would have to “lose an arm and a leg to slip down the world rankings.”
Ronnie wasn’t finished: “That’s why we (the older generation of players) are still hovering around, because the younger, up-and-coming players are so bad.”
The BBC interviewer replied to Ronnie saying: “It’s not that bad.”
To which Ronnie interrupted: “Well it is!”
Then, having come back from 9-13 and 14-16 down to beat Mark Selby 17-16 in the world championship semi-final, O’Sullivan was asked how it felt to be back in a world championship final. He repeatedly said:
It’s all about the cue action. I don’t buy into the attitude of ‘wow, it’s amazing to be in the world championship final.’ If your cue action is right, you could just as easily be playing on your own in the basement.
Both O’Sullivan and Sheridan have been on the receiving end of what has been a rather withering backlash. However, O’Sullivan has been praised for being “forthright”, “having some fun” and “not being a typical mundane interviewee” after matches.
Sheridan meanwhile has been entirely lambasted from all of the (very considerable) feedback I’ve watched, listened to and read.
Sheridan has been accused of calling the League of Ireland “a shambles of a league.” Sheridan is also accused of saying to his Waterford players when they made mistakes versus Dundalk on Friday night:
This is why you play in this league, because it’s a f*cking pub league.
Following the weekend’s 2-2 draw at Dundalk, the Waterford boss was questioned about his opposite number, Vinny Perth. Sheridan bizarrely appeared not to who Perth was, despite him being the manager of the opposition and the reigning League of Ireland Premier Division champions.
Was what Sheridan said worse than what O’Sullivan said? Aside from the fact that Sheridan was partly addressing players under his own stewardship, what he said was probably not worse.
There is no doubt that O’Sullivan is a bigger name than Sheridan, both inside and outside the snooker, football and sporting worlds. The masses tend to love an outspoken, larger-than-life and ultra-successful character. Could this be part of the reason that O’Sullivan has faced considerably less of a backlash than Sheridan over the last few days, considering the highly controversial comments from both?