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Season Grade: Eunan O’Kane

Republic of Ireland midfielder had a rough season

Ipswich Town v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Expectations

Eunan O’Kane had begun the season as a first-choice midfielder under former Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. While Ronaldo Vieira has perhaps a better ability on the defensive side of the ball and Kalvin Phillips has more upside when it came to supporting the striker and playing up the pitch, the Republic of Ireland midfielder was seen as a more balanced central midfielder, capable of transitioning the play from the defence up the pitch, and able to pick out passes while remaining an outlet for the defence.

O’Kane had often struggled for playing time under previous manager Garry Monk, as Monk preferred a more defensive role for the central midfielders in his 4-2-3-1, but Christiansen handed the Republic of Ireland midfielder a new lease on life and more playing time.

Performance

O’Kane had great start to the season, but after his miserable, awful performance away at Sheffield Wednesday, he never really got his groove back. The player that did wonders in passing out of midfield and providing the transition from defence to attack was replaced with a player that seemed to be unable to tackle or pick out a decent pass. Whatever fire had been lit under him by Christiansen was snuffed out by Christmas time.

While it’s not fair to judge a player on one action in one game, his totally unnecessary headbutt against Ipswich Town might have actually summed up his season. A rash decision that cost Leeds the match and an example of one of the senior players at the club completely losing it and leaving the team short in a critical match.

Under Paul Heckingbottom, Adam Forshaw, Ronaldo Vieira, and Kalvin Phillips all seemed to be preferred to O’Kane, and he did nothing to dispel those feelings when he did see the pitch.


Final Season Grade: D

If this grade had been done after the first six weeks of the season, the grade would have been an A, but then again, most of the squad would have received some outstanding grades. However, the Championship is a marathon, not a sprint, and O’Kane’s sprinting start slowly turned to a disappointment.