Paudie O’Connor Arrives: A Great Start to the Summer

Lincoln City have signed Paudie O'Connor ahead of the 2022/23 EFL Sky Bet League One season. Picture: Chris Vaughan Photography Ltd for Lincoln City FC

When does summer start? 

Technically, not until June 21st. For some, it is when the final whistle goes on the last game of the season. For others, it’s the first signing of the post-season period. For me, sat writing this from a terrace overlooking Feock bay, it is a bit of both. The sun is shining and Lincoln City have, in my eyes, bagged a solid signing in Paudie O’Connor.

As you know, I used to write for a Football League website; I don’t profess to study all clubs in any depth, it’s not easy to understand all players from every team, but I do know about O’Connor. I’ve followed his career since he was in Leeds’ Under 23 squad (Leeds were one of the big hitters in the Championship in terms of views). Every day, I’d scour News Now and other outlets for Leeds news. More often than not, we’d write about the Under 23 squad, and O’Connor’s name came up, a lot.

He left Leeds for Bradford in a move that surprised many, and since then he’s set about becoming a solid central defender. He’s 6’3, he’s aggressive, a little hot-headed and one likely to get into it with the hardest forwards in the division. That’s right Matty Taylor, you won’t bully us for a third season in a row.

Lincoln City need a wide player or two, perhaps a striker and almost certainly a holding midfielder, but many will think we don’t need a centre-half. With TJ Eyoma, Regan Poole, Joe Walsh, Adam Jackson, Sean Roughan and Lewis Montsma you’d think we were covered. However, Eyoma and Poole are both full backs as well, Joe Walsh and Adam Jackson rotate their time on the treatment table, and Montsma is likely to be out until after the season is underway. In fact, we played something like 24 different combinations of back four last season; that HAS to change.

Also, I had a major gripe about our strength at the back at times. Remember losing 1-0 to Ipswich, when Bonne pushed Eyoma over with ease? Wigan scored the most ridiculous of goals when Josh Magennis bullied Adam Jackson like he was a ten-year-old beefcake grabbing a five-year-old ginger kid’s dinner money. Whilst we do have decent defenders, we haven’t had what my Dad would call ‘a bit of a bastard’ who isn’t afraid to get a broken nose, and won’t be sat at home if his toe is bruised. That’s no slur on our other players, but every team needs a Bozzie, a Sean Raggett or a Trevor Matthewson. There’s a suggestion we might have got that.

O’Connor as we beat Bradford earlier this season – Credit Graham Burrell

I’d heard O’Connor was Sheff Weds bound, they were certainly interested, and that’s why I was surprised at Gab Sutton’s assessment of our signing. Gab, a League One pundit, said “If the #Imps are attempting to unsettle the big boys in League One, this isn’t a signing that moves them closer towards doing that, in my opinion”. Now, that is opinion and I respect opinions that come from a position of knowledge, but I’d argue back that we’re not looking to unsettle anyone in terms of the names we sign; we’re looking to add certain elements to our team we do not have right now. Someone who stands taller than most strikers is one thing we need, and someone with a bit of a streak, who’ll give players a tough time is another. I’d like to think that rather than do anything with other teams in mind, we look to our own and get what we need. As we know from years gone by (2002/03 in particular) it is easy for a team to be far greater than the sum of its parts, and a no-nonsense defender who has a bit of quality on the ball is exactly what we need. Besides, Sheff Weds are surely League One’s elite and they were heavily linked, so perhaps we’ve unsettled them simply by bagging the player?

I’d also argue that he s respected enough at Bradford to have won four awards in the 2021 end of season awards, and another two this season. He captained the team whilst still on loan from Leeds, and again when Niall Canavan left this season. He’s won back-to-back Player of the Year awards for the Bantams, and yet some of their fans are saying he’s easily replaceable? It’s an interesting take and obviously, the proof is in the pudding, but I’ve seen far, far worse signings for City. On paper, I think this is a big capture.

We’re not done for the week, there’s sure to be another capture, an attacking player I’m told and possibly one who might have the same former club as O’Connor, who knows. One thing is for certain; our back four (or maybe three) has just got a bit nastier and a bit taller and they’re two things we desperately needed.