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O'Connor singled out for criticism as Rae plans new approach

Douglas Rae, the Morton chairman, was full of ire yesterday as he contemplated life in League 1.

Garry O'Connor has just "let himself go" says Morton chairman
Garry O'Connor has just "let himself go" says Morton chairman

And much of it was directed at the former Hibernian and Scotland striker Garry O'Connor, whose role in the Greenock side's relegation battle he described as "hopeless".

"Our previous manager Allan Moore brought in 10 new players at the start of the season and Kenny Shiels brought in a similar number when he started halfway through the season," said Rae. "When you do that you've got a job to make them gel.

"During the transfer window in January you have only got the players no-one else wants or the ones who are creeping back into the game from injury. There is only one window that is worthy of being called a window for signings and that is in the month of July. It is the only one that counts."

"No club is going to give away good players. Unless you are paying money for players, you are only going to get the dregs."

Rae turned his sights on 30-year old O'Connor: "Have I been dis­appointed with Garry? Yes, he has been hopeless. My view is he has been totally unsatis­factory. He has not been able to get himself back  mobile enough to play in the Cham­pionship."

"Garry is only 30 and he has just left himself go. In the time he's been here he should have been able to get himself back to a level of fitness that, in my view, he doesn't have. He's been disappointing; he really has. I think he has lost interest in football and, if I had been the manager, I would have dropped him before he actually was [dropped]."

Rae intends to handle matters differently in the future, as he explained: "I would have told him if he doesn't get fit, he doesn't play. The worst thing you can do to a footballer is to keep him from playing. It's a financial commitment to bring ­players like Garry to Morton, and that is the sad thing.

"Players get paid irrespective of how they play. That's something I am addressing. In future what I will be doing is getting a fitness company to take a player and judge him at the beginning. Then, if I wasn't satisfied after say four or five weeks, I would send him back to this place to see if his fitness levels had measurably improved. If they hadn't, then he could be freed."

After having his fingers burned by big-name signings such as O'Connor and Nacho Novo, who was at Cappielow briefly under Moore, Rae insists he will not throw money at trying to get out of League 1 at the first time of asking when Morton go down.

"We'll be trying to get back into the Championship by the end of next season. We will certainly be doing everything in our power to get back.

"The one thing I will not be doing is throwing a lot of extra money at it. I'll be setting a realistic budget based on how many I think we'll get through the gates."

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