Celtic youngster Lee O'Connor sees loan club plunged into managerial chaos

By Euan Davidson

May 11, 2021

Bit of a strange one for Celtic man Lee O’Connor, today.

The man who took him on loan, and led Tranmere Rovers to the play-offs this season, Keith Hill has been sacked as Rovers’ first-team manager.

What’s more, their supporters seem genuinely delighted by it.

In a statement from the club earlier this morning, Tranmere Rovers chairman Mark Palios said [TRFC]:

“Despite success achieved on the pitch in the form of securing a place in the Play-Offs and reaching the Papa John’s Trophy final, in the Play-Offs an entire season gets distilled into two or three games.

“I have to do what I think gives us the best chance of achieving promotion in those games and I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that means making the change before the semi-finals begin.”

Despite taking the side to a Cup Final and the play-offs, Rovers could have realistically expected better than 7th place this season [EFL]. The Super White Army have only won two of their last five, despite the presence of Lee O’Connor. The versatile former Manchester United product has played 32 times in League Two this campaign, primarily as a right-back. However, his abilities in midfield and in central defence are useful to any manager.

Lee O’Connor on duty for Tranmere Rovers, now manager-less / (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

What next for Celtic talent Lee O’Connor?

There was a great deal of hope around Lee O’Connor when he signed from Manchester United. In September 2019, Red Devils fans were left confused by the player’s departure. The Waterford City-born defender seemed like a versatile, useful prospect. At a time when other United academy talents were getting games, it seemed likely O’Connor could be next up.

Ultimately, though, he joined the Bhoys, where his progress has been relatively steady. He’s averaging 1.2 tackles and 1.7 clearances per 90 [WhoScored?]: unspectacular, but efficient for EFL League Two. More than that, though, he’s getting more regular game time and experience than he might’ve at Celtic this season.

We’ve gone from having 4 recognised right-backs down to 2, with Jonjoe Kenny and Anthony Ralston. Of course, Kenny will not be returning to Paradise, and Ralston’s future has been uncertain for years. O’Connell might have a genuine chance to break into the first-team next season.

Pre-season will be massive for him. Even bigger than that, though, at least short-term, is a chance to get Tranmere Rovers promoted into the third tier. He’ll have to do that under the watchful eye of an interim manager, as it turns out.

Quite bizarre.

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