Baird | A Man For Every Position

Baird | A Man For Every Position

Having been Mr dependable and the man to call on whenever a whole is found in the starting 11, Chris Baird may well find himself as the first choice right sided defender at the club with John Pantsil having been released over the summer and Stephen Kelly being seen as, well, a last resort.

Baird joined under Lawrie Sanchez as part of the Norn Iron invasion at the start of the 2007/08 season along with David Healy, Steve Davis and Aaron Hughes. With fellow new recruits Paul Konchesky and Diomansy Kamara. Hopes were high for the coming season. Well, we all know what happened there.

Having signed from Southampton for a little over £3m where he’d been club captain, played in an FA Cup final against Arsenal and featured 68 times, Sanchez decided to play him in an unfamiliar right back position. This little experiment didn’t work well. Used to playing in a central role for Saints he was drawn in all the time leaving the back four exposed a lot. By the time Sanchez was given his marching orders and Uncle Roy came in he’d lost his place and the loan signing of Paul Staltari made many think this was to be a short stay at the Cottage for him.

However something magical happened over that summer though. Along with other players who’d seemed uninterested and mediocre at best under Sanchez’s rule, Baird came alive and grew into a useful utility player for us. When duty called over the following two seasons he’d play in all positions across the back line, in a defensive midfield role and on the right of midfield. To some peoples surprise he even was chosen over Pantsil on the right of defence in the Europa Cup Final in Hamburg where he showed his usual commitment throughout the game.

Last season was probably Baird’s best in the White shirt. Although not being first choice at the start of the campaign he managed to fight his way in and become a regular name in the starting eleven. Well, I say fought his way in, but it was probably aided a little bit by poor performances from both the human own goal machine John Pantsil and the defensive allergic Carlos Salcido. This would lead to Baird playing in a number of positions again, seemingly with ease. While playing in a unfamiliar position away at Stoke he scored his first, and second, goals for the club helping us to the first away win of the season. The statistics show the team performed much better when the Northern Irish international was in the starting 11 winning 36% of them compared to just 15% of the league games he didn’t play a part in. He also lays claim to the best clean sheet record of his competitors and not making a single defensive error.


Having signed a contract extension last season through to the end of the 2012/13 season and now seemingly the only right back at the club it’ll be interesting to see how many more positions Bairdinho is able to master this coming season and what another new manager will think of the versatile defender.