Martin O’Connor named Blues loan manager

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O’Connor, 54, has previously held a number of scouting roles, operating as a senior scout for Bristol City and Brighton & Hove Albion since retiring and held coaching positions at Walsall – where he was also the interim director in 2019 – and the town of Halesowen.

Importantly, for the past eight years he has been the managing director of a football and education program based in Walsall. Aimed at 16-19 year olds, O’Connor’s work has helped educate young players and arm them with the qualifications to pursue a future career in the game.

Now appointed loan officer at Blues, where he spent six years as a player, O’Connor spoke about his vision and goals in the role.

“I have a strong affiliation with the club and the fans, so to be invited back after going through the interview process and being offered the role is great news.

“It will be my job to try to help young players get through this. Mainly by helping them gain competitive first-team experience and finding them the right club that matches their abilities.

I have to make sure that the asset, as our young players are all assets, are treated properly, get experience and a sense of what it’s like to be a professional footballer in a competitive setting. Where Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. is the most important thing.

A lot of work is done to make sure they go to the right place. The host club must look after them properly, physically, mentally and professionally. Loans are an opportunity for young players to show what they can do while gaining experience in competitive football. If you send a young player, you want him to come back with all that experience and knowledge to play for three points, in front of crowds and where games count.

This club has produced fantastic players over the years who have enjoyed great careers. It shows that the process is working, but when you pass a young player through, they need to know what it’s like to go and earn the right to play.

“I hope I can use my network and my little book full of contacts because it has to be the right club for the right player. There can’t be one size fits all.”

Technical director Craig Gardner also commented on the nomination.

“I am delighted to welcome Martin back to the club. We want the Blues to be involved and working within the new framework as much as possible, trying to produce younger players for the first team and creating this way.

“Martin has been in the game for a very long time. He knows what it takes to be successful and his in-game connections make him an ideal candidate for this role.

“I know he is committed to developing young professionals and the loan system is a big part of their upbringing, exposing them to competitive senior football.”

The former midfielder represented Birmingham City with distinction during his playing days, recording over a century of appearances wearing the famous royal blue.

His six years of gathering in the middle of the park won him the respect of teammates, staff and fans and included him as team captain in the 2001 Worthington Cup final against Liverpool.

Welcome, Martin!

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