In the summer, Leeds sought to move on many players who they thought were not first-team players. One of those was Irish centre-back, Paudie O’Connor, who joined Bradford City on a three-year deal.
Marcelo Bielsa has always favoured having a lean squad over having what would be seen as ‘deadwood’ in his ranks. With this in mind, it was not a surprise to see so many names either loaned out or permanently departing the club.
Paudie O’Connor spent the last season on-loan at both Blackpool and Bradford City, with Bradford suffering relegation to the fourth tier. With the drop in divisions, Gary Bowyer sought to re-sign O’Connor and did so on a permanent deal, leaving many fans questioning his permanent departure.
With this in mind, we take a look at three reasons why Leeds might regret letting him go to Bradford permanently…
He’s playing well
It is always a risk to sell a player without ever fully seeing what they’re capable of if given the opportunity, but O’Connor is relishing the faith Bowyer is showing in him by putting together a string of performances which have earned him a Player of the Month nomination.
The reason for him getting the nomination coming from the EFL’s official site: “An aggressive centre-back who attacks the ball with gusto, the Irishman ensured that Bradford conceded no more than one goal in any September game. He also stepped forward at set-pieces to score two decisive ones himself.”
Having earned his side three extra points with goals and remaining solid in defence, you can see a player who is enjoying their football and will continue to improve if he remains in this form.
He has potential
Despite playing well recently, O’Connor is still only 22 and still has a lot of his career ahead of him. With this in mind, it is great to see a young player flourishing, but even better to know that he will definitely get better and surely play at a much higher level in the not-so-distant future.
When he signed for Leeds in 2017, O’Connor was only 19 and very inexperienced, but clearly showed enough promise to earn the move. After signing, he mainly featured for the under-23s but injury crises forced then-manager Paul Heckingbottom into playing him in first-team games, where he impressed a lot holding his own against some of the leagues most potent attackers.
It didn’t work out at Leeds in the long-term, however, O’Connor will continue to grow irrespective of where he plays his football.
Leeds are short in his area
It is no secret that Leeds were short going into this season at centre-back with only two first-team recognised centre-backs in Cooper and White. Bielsa favours using versatile utility players to plug gaps, which has meant players who are typically full-backs have covered in the event of suspension or injury.
While many trust Bielsa’s judgement based on how far it has already got Leeds, it is hard to ignore that leaving the centre-back position light is somewhat naive, given the intensity of the league Leeds are competing in on top of how injury-prone his defenders are.
Had Bielsa had faith in O’Connor and kept him with the squad, there is no doubt that in his tenure at the club so far, he would have liked to call upon the Irish youngster when injuries plagued the squad.