Garry O’Connor

Although not written for us, almajir posted this on his blog this morning. I was considering writing about GOC yesterday. I think he is a better player than he gets credit for. Anyway over to almajir. (We obviously have his permission to re-post this.)

One of the biggest questions raised so far from Blues’ tour of Hong Kong and China has been the ongoing squad status of Garry O’Connor. After scoring two goals in as many friendlies, his supporters have found their voices again and are once again clamouring for his return to the first team squad.

With a strike rate of 9 league goals in 49 league appearances for Birmingham City, and 12 goals in a total of 56 appearances in all over the last three seasons, Garry O’Connor can hardly be called prolific. Injury hasn’t helped him either, as O’Connor hasn’t made a first team appearance sine October of last year due to requiring two seperate hip operations. With this in mind, many feel justified in saying that O’Connor barely deserved a new contract, let alone a chance in the first team.

The problem Blues have though is that we are not over-endowed with goalscorers; for example Cameron Jerome was top scorer last season with eleven and I think he will do very well to match that this year. Nikola Zigic, despite his international pedigree and his undoubted class is untried in the Premiership, and then after him you have James McFadden (who, with 13 goals in 78 league appearances has a worse strike rate than O’Connor), and Kevin Phillips who is 37 years old on Sunday. It could be argued that most of McFadden’s appearances saw him played on the left flank, but even with that taken into account, he’s never been anything close to prolific. With these statistics in mind, for me Garry O’Connor has to be considered as a squad player – at least until we sign another two top strikers.

I’ve seen it said that O’Connor has no stand out attributes; and whilst I agree that he has no real pace, and isn’t overly prolific at winning headers, I think many people underestimate his finishing prowess. Take the goal against Beijing Guoan. Yes, it was against what appeared to be a poor team, on a poor pitch, but there are some things you can take from it. When Jerome struck the first chance, he hit it far too close to the keeper, and the keeper blocked it fairly easy. However, O’Connor took his chance well, hitting it across the keeper and making it difficult for him to stop. Jerome, for all his eleven goals last season (and I admit I do like him a lot anyway) isn’t a natural finisher, whereas I believe O’Connor is. On the rare occasion he’s been fully fit in the first team, O’Connor has shown he can hit the back of the onion bag. If you cast your mind back to the 2-0 home defeat of Wolves a season and a half ago, O’Connor ripped their defence apart; the second goal was purely because of O’Connor’s presence scaring the defence and the goalkeeper and he slotted it home with aplomb.

Now O’Connor is supposed to be fitter than ever, I don’t think giving him a six month contract is going to hurt anyone. I don’t envisage him as a starter straight off, even if we don’t make another forward signing – but when the inevitable injury comes to a frontman I think he’ll be a capable backup for a couple of games at least. Maybe, if he can get a goal on his return to the first team his confidence will lift and it will lead to a few more. What’s important right now for O’Connor is to keep working hard in the friendlies, keep scoring goals and keep his fitness. I fear another fitness breakdown for him will certainly end his Blues career, if not his career in the top flight entirely.


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3 Comments on Garry O’Connor

  1. I’m in the camp willing to cut O’Connor some slack. He has deceptively quick feet for a man of his size. The goal he scored against Southampton at St Mary’s two seasons ago was sheer class. It seems very simple at first site shifting the ball about six inches with his first touch before side footing the ball into the bottom corner from about fifteen yards. The keeper had no chance; a truly beautiful finish as O’Connor had at least three defenders in touching distance of him but the touch and finish was in the blink of an eye. One of the best goals we scored all that season. O’Connor is a player that should not be underestimated and if fit, I believe he will score goals as he is a naural finisher as Almajir rightly says.


  2. I disagree, and would love it if GOC proved me wrong. I have always seen him as a decent Championship striker, but little more. Maybe thats Ecks insistance on playing him for a season unfit, but either way, seeing him in the flesh every other week has only helped me form an opinion of him being a lump. Sure, if someone slots the ball to anyone in the 6 yard box, you would expect them to have a decent chance of putting it away. The goals against the Chinese second rate teams this week certainly dont convince me.

    The piece and the comment above both talk about not underestimating him. Far from it. I have over estimated him for far too long, and have got bored waiting. This is typified by the fact that I have to rely on one solitary goal a year and a half ago to change my opinion. When he scores the winner at the Emirates I will be happy to apologise to him in person.

    I look forward to eating my words.

  3. I hate this ‘untried in the Premiership’ mantra it’s complete rubbish! Roger Johnson and Scott Dann both untried at Premier League level and they came out with loads of accolades. Suppose you could class Joe Hart in that category as well. There are far more players that have fared well in the Premiership than seasoned pro’s that have not! Onto Jerome though and I think he’s great. Personally I do think he is a better finisher than O’Connor despite what McLeish says (bias). If an opposing club from a foreign country was looking at a video of Jerome’s goals, and then compare that to O’Connor’s most would agree that Jerome’s the one you want. Jerome has showed Blues fans far superior appearances than O’Connor has and Jerome is always improving. O’Connor has been top scorer in pre-season every pre-season since we’ve signed him and he’s been rubbish in the league. So unless he scores 20 goals he should not be looked at as a serious contender. We will probably add another striker to the ranks in Suazo (I hope) and O’Connor should then be relegated to the sort of none- status Marcus Bent has!!!

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