O'Brien deal makes statement to younger pros

Last updated : 28 January 2005 By Craig Hope (website editor)

New deal comes as a surprise
The extension comes as somewhat of a surprise given that most expected O’Brien to be sold come the summer.

This may still be the case however with contract extensions appearing to mean little in today’s game. Luis Boa Morte signed a new contract with Fulham this month to end speculation linking him with a move to
Newcastle but has since stated his remaining ambition to play for a bigger club and even Hugo Vianna signed a new contract with us before he departed for a year long loan spell in Portugal.

Republic of Ireland international was seen by most supporters as a sellable asset and someone who could perhaps command a transfer fee in the £2million region.

Graeme Souness said of the matter,

It is great news that Andy's signed a new contract.

"Andy has extended his contract and I a delighted about that. Although we have signed a centre back for a lot of money he still fancies his chances here.

"He's up for the fight and that's what we want - a squad of players with the attitude he's got.

"He's been a very solid performer for this club in the last few years and given his age he is only going to get better so I am absolutely delighted.

"If we're going to achieve anything at this club its with people like Andy and it is characters like this I want the dressing room full of.

It is perhaps Souness’ last comment that tells the biggest story. Offering a contract extension to a model professional like O’Brien makes a statement of the conduct standards Souness expects and that attaining this level of professionalism will result in reward.

The ex-Bradford City centre back is not good enough for where, as a club, we want to go. But, as Souness quite rightly stated, a player who is willing to knuckle down and prove his worth can only be a positive influence on some of our younger talent who had perhaps previously used people like Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer as their role models.