City have today been linked with former midfielder Michael O’Connor and whilst normally I don’t pay attention to these transfer speculation sites, this one does seem to be reputable.
Before I continue, I believe many of these sites are trash, the lowest of the low generating fake rumours and gossip without any substance whatsoever. If I see news from one I usually check its history and find rubbish, but this one is slightly different. There’s a few bits on here that have proven to be correct Harry Davis to Grimsby for example and Mansfield hunting Neil Bishop. Here’s the one that has piqued my interest.
— FL Transfer News (@EFLtransfers3) June 7, 2018
Now I should say they’ve linked Farms with Stevenage and Elliott with Grimsby and Mansfield too, both common rumours that can be picked up anywhere, so there may be no substance to it. Usually I’d dismiss them but with this site looking half-reputable and us needing a player in his position, I thought I’d take a further look.
O’Connor is 30-years old so may not be exactly what we’re looking for, but he does fit the profile of an Alex replacement, albeit an older one who spent most of last season on the treatment table. Remember, Bozzie is 30 as well, so it isn’t as though that age is entirely ‘past it’. Also, I haven’t seen Danny say he can only sign young players, have you?
Michael O’Connor isn’t new to Imps fans, at least not those with a decade or so behind them. He had a successful loan spell here as a youngster, Peter Jackson’s way of trying to placate us after Lee Frecklington left. It was only a loan spell though, we could never have afforded a player of his quality.
O’Connor joined on loan from Crewe for the final couple of months of the 2008/09 season which was Peter Jackson’s only full season in charge. His first appearance came as a sub in a 5-1 mauling we suffered at Grimsby and, despite us conceding four goals when he was on the pitch, he earned a starting spot and didn’t let it go.
O’Connor was a real class act back then, a battler with a smart touch and a trick or two up his sleeve. It was apparent from his performances that our chances of signing him permanently were virtually zero, especially as he was rated highly at Crewe. He only arrived on loan by virtue of a ‘breach of discipline’ that made him unpopular with Crewe manager Gudjon Pordarson.
His arrived as a short-term replacement for the departing Lee Frecklington, and had our business with Peterborough been a little more fruitful for Lincoln we might have had an opportunity of signing O’Connor permanently. He certainly warranted it as he was already a Northern Ireland international. He scored in our 3-2 defeat at Barnet and was ever-present until injury forced him out of the final fixture of the season.
On conclusion of his time at Lincoln he earned another Northern Ireland call up, lasting 62 minutes of a 3-0 friendly defeat by Italy. That literally coming on the back of his Lincoln form. Crewe transfer listed him, but the £250,000 fee was too rich for our blood, but not for high-flying Scunthorpe United. They were a Championship side and they wasted no time in adding him to their ranks. He went on to make 108 appearances for them, scoring 13 goals.
He has enjoyed a fruitful career amassing 300 league appearances at various clubs as well as being capped by his country 11 times. He joined Notts County in 2016 on a two-year deal, but spent most of last season out injured, only returning on Easter Monday. He was the Magpies captain, but became out of contract despite saying in May he’d like to remain at the club. A new contract was offered the next day which, as yet, he hasn’t signed.
Would O’Connor be a good addition to the side? Aside from the last two seasons he’s mostly played at League One, winning Player of the Year at Port Vale and partnering Lee Frecklington at Rotherham as they won League Two and got promoted from League One also. He’s a box to box midfielder, much like Alex, with a wide range of passing. He’s got a good free kick on him too, but can suffer indiscipline or, as he puts it, ‘passion’ which results in yellow cards for dissent.
He might be a little older than the player we’re hoping would replace Alex, but he’s a solid midfielder at this level. He hasn’t proven his fitness which could be a stumbling block and if he did sign it would leave our three first-team central midfielders all over the age of 30, but is that a hindrance?
It’s an interesting link, one that might not whet the appetite of fans wanting big names and Championship quality players, but anyone who remembers his displays under Jackson and sees his subsequent career would have to admit there’s value in the player. I actually got a little excited by the link, especially when I discovered he was only 30. He’s a quality footballer, a battler and a fighter but with a great range of passing and lots of experience, including winning this division before. He’s played with Freck too and he was around the County camp as they made the play offs last year. If he comes for free then he adds value to the squad as a whole and, in my eyes, wouldn’t be a bad acquisition.