13 December 2014

Leyton Orient 1 Peterborough United 2, 13/12/14

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A game in which... Orient's fourth new era of the season began much like the other three: with a whimper rather than a slightly louder whimper. Once again the team fell meekly to defeat against an average side, and it's clear that confidence is at rock bottom.

But let's not get on the players' backs: it really does seem like they are trying ("Yes, very trying!" Lolz) and they actually looked pretty shellshocked at the final whistle. The trouble was that they also played like they were shellshocked for the preceding 90 minutes.

Jump off your seat moment... The goalmouth scramble in the sixth minute of added time during which seven separate Orient players attempted to score into an open net from two inches, and yet each failed to do so. To be honest, luck isn't on our side at the moment – on another day, for example, one of the two shots we had on target in the entire game might have fluked a deflection and gone in.

Give that man a medal... Given a rare start in the even rarer position of lone striker, Shaun Batt deserved his well-taken goal and acquitted himself pretty well. And by that I mean he didn't fall over as much as usual. Lowry, Vincelot and Cox also tried their hearts out. Even Jobi McAnuff didn't play badly. Instead he opted not to play at all.

Adam Legzdins
Taxi for... Have you ever found yourself wondering if Adam Legzdins would be a better keeper if he shaved off his beard? No, me neither, but we were nonetheless given the chance to find out today when the freshly-shorn hipster took to the pitch. And the good news was that Legzdins didn't make his one customary blunder. The bad news was that instead he made two blunders, fumbling twice in succession in the first half. Probably should have done better with their second goal too, no?

"Fuck the technical shit"... Or, as Fabio Liverani would put it: "Cazzo la merda tecnica". God only knows what the new Italian-speaking gaffer was saying when instructing Romain Vincelot on the touchline, but the outcome was that the midfielder was last seen in Leyton Asda trying to buy truffle oil. But let's give Liverani time before we write him off (or Mr Becchetti fires him). After all, if he's going to insist upon playing Scott Cuthbert up front for the final 15 minutes of each game then at least we're going to be in for some fun in League Two.

Meanwhile on YouTube... Dancing girls! Drum and bass! Chiselled-jawed Azzurri! Yes, it can only be another trailer for the Leyton Orient reality show, currently taking Italy by storm (in a teacup). Sit back and enjoy watching 22 Italians playing in an empty Brisbane Road while remembering it was only seven months ago that we were beating Peterborough on the way to the play-off final. How times change...


07 December 2014

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Gillingham 1 Leyton Orient 0, 7/12/14

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A game which... served as a telling – if rather depressing – counterpoint to the 5-1 victory that Orient enjoyed over Gillingham just eight months ago, when we ran them ragged and scored this incredible team goal. But we've plummeted such depths since then it's a surprise the team don't run out wearing deep-sea diving suits.

In fact, that wouldn't have made them any less mobile, because to be less mobile than today's performance would be impossible. I mean, yes, we did knock the ball around a bit in the first two-thirds of the pitch and fashion a couple of half-chances, but it was all pretty uninspiring. Chuck in the inevitable concession from a set piece and Orient's season is now swimming with the fishes.

Jump off your seat moment... There were no jump off your seat moments. But I did slightly raise one eyebrow in anticipation when substitute Shaun Batt crossed into the path of Bradley Pritchard who appeared to only have to breath on the ball to put it into the open net. Instead he chose to collapse in a heap on the ground so I could happily return my eyebrow to its default Orient 2014/15 setting of weary resignation.

Give that man a medal... Well done Gary Sawyer who was flawless in defence and provided a hint of attacking impetus. Maybe he could play left back, Dossena left midfield and Cox right midfield? God knows we have to try something different. Maybe he could play in goal and Legzdins up front? Maybe Mooney could play in central defence? Maybe Jobi McAnuff could play at all?

Taxi for... Gianvito Plasmati. Now, if the giant Italian is standing still – I say "if", obviously I mean "when" – then he is perfectly adapt at trapping the ball and then laying it off for someone else to cock up. Other than that he appears to have very little other use on a football pitch. Indeed, despite his height he rarely even wins headers, which means he's the worst jumper since this little number sported by Lloyd James.

"Fuck the technical shit..." "To score obviously makes a difference in this sport," said Mauro Milanese after the game, suggesting he really is almost at the point where he actually knows what he's doing. Five straight away defeats and just two victories (against one side bottom of League One and one side in League Two) in his eight games in charge doesn't bode particularly well for the future though.

Meanwhile on Linked In... Let's step away from the gloom of Orient for a moment to stalk today's referee Trevor Kettle on Linked In.

The Business Development Executive and worst referee in the whole of human history claims that he "thrives of delivering quality output". If you say so Trevor. "My strengths are my inter-personnel" he adds, somehow managing to break at least 14 different rules of grammar in one five-word phrase and possibly contradicting his later assertion that he has "excellent communication skills".

Still, he also says he's good at "simplifying complex matters and providing clear guidance." Want to be manager of Orient pal?

22 November 2014

Leyton Orient 4 Crewe Alexandra 1, 22/11/14

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A game in which... Orient finally threw the monkey – I say monkey, more like a King Kong-sized gorilla – off their back and won a league game at home. Yes, today the players beat their chests and roared, putting in a performance that bristled with energy and impetus.

Particularly pleasing was the reappearance of some of the elements we've been missing from last season – "passing", "defending" and "scoring", for example – and the fact that even when Crewe got one back we didn't totally fall apart. Much to enjoy.

Jump off your seat moment... The jaw dropping moment in the first half when our new left back attempted a mid-air volleyed shot from the touch line about 40 yards out. Who the hell does he think he is, Andrea Dossena of Liverpool, Napoli and the Italian national team? Seriously though, this guy has more than a touch of class, and if that's what £12,000 a week of Albanian waste management money gets you, I'm all for it.

Give that man a medal... Excellent stuff from Vincelot, Mooney, Wright and more, but Lord Almighty, where did that performance from Chris Dagnall come from? The bearded goal-nipper was everywhere, scampering around like he'd just ingested a bucket-load of street ketamine and was trying to gain entry to every single Liverpool nightclub in the space of 90 minutes. This was not only his best display in an Orient shirt, but possibly the best display by anyone ever in an Orient shirt, or even the best display by any footballer in all of history. Which brings me to...

Taxi for... the match sponsors Anderson Travel. One can only imagine how many bottles of Theo's restaurant's famous paint stripper-flavoured wine they had drunk before deciding that Chris Dagnall's one beautiful goal and THREE ASSISTS did not merit their man of the match award. Sure, their recipient Romain Vincelot played well too, but his mantelpiece is already straining under the weight of the 48 awards he received from the Supporters' Club for his 48 appearances last season. Let's hope Anderson Travel don't apply the same logic for awarding man of the match to their coach trips. "Oh, you wanted Cornwall mate? We're taking you to Bradford instead. Same difference, hey?"

"Fuck the technical shit"... Mauro Milanese once again saved his job by not losing two games in a row, and this time he did it in style. Clearly he's trying to get his Orient team to play the ball along the floor, which is nice. He also seems to have figured out how to stop us conceding from set pieces, principally by getting Kevin Dearden to yell madly from the touchline to tell each player who they should be marking. And with in-form Simpson and Lowry both to come back, things are looking brighter at Brisbane Road.

Meanwhile on Twitter... ADAM LEGZDINS HAS BEEN ARRESTED! As this mug shot demonstrates, it seems our hipster keeper has been in trouble with the law. What could have been his crime? Speeding down Dalston High Street on his hipster unicycle? Forgetting to pay for his cold-pressed organic soy milk latte? Not having enough tattoos of swallows? No, actually, this is just a promo shot for Adam's hipster barber. At ease everyone.

11 November 2014

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Leyton Orient 2 Northampton Town 0, 11/11/14

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A game in which... the 48 fans that bothered to turn up saw things they wouldn't believe: an Orient player score a one-on-one, a Marvin Bartley goal, a home victory... And all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. 

Yes, that's right readers, I'm almost certainly alienating 75% of you by trying to riff on the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner, but tonight did feel like a glimpse into the future. And by that I mean we'll probably fare ok when we're in League Two next season. Just kidding – actually there were signs of progress in a more solid defensive performance, an industrious display in midfield and encouraging interplay between strikers Simpson and Dagnall. Not quite time to die yet, then. (Here endeth the Blade Runner references.) 

Jump off your seat moment... A delightfully mazy run into the penalty box by Chris Dagnall at the start of the second half. He weaves left, he weaves right, he weaves left again, he briefly stumbles over his own Scouse accent, he breaks free on the edge of the six-yard box, he sets himself up for goal of the season... Oh, he's spooned his shot into the far corner of the south stand. Still, a great shift by the bearded goal-nipper. 

Give that man a medal... Now, Marvin Bartley was by no means the best player on the pitch tonight, but he possibly wasn't the worst and, by Christ, that's progress. A couple of his passes weren't backwards, a couple of his tackles weren't mistimed and – to top it all – he sealed victory with a well-taken goal that almost certainly wasn't a miscued cross. Do the Bartman? Yes I do. 

Taxi for... Gary Sawyer. Not because he played badly – he didn't – but because with the arrival of Champions League-pedigreed Andrea Dossena it looks like his days of being fifth-choice left-back after Omozusi, Lowry, Pritchard, Ling and Ada the kit man are numbered. Personally I always thought that when he wasn't being torn apart by Carl Baker he was pretty decent. Wanna make something of it? 

"Fuck the technical shit"... Mauro Milanese might just have saved his job with his first win in four attempts as Orient's caretaker-interim-temporary-manager. How did he do it? By playing the 11 fit professionals available to him mostly in their correct positions. But, joking aside, this was a markedly improved performance and from tiny seeds a mighty trunk may grow. Which begs the question: what the hell did he have planted in his head to explain that hair? 

Meanwhile on Twitter... For on-loan Orient midfielder Josh Wright there are many advantages to being the less-famous sibling to Mark Wright of The Only Way is Essex and Strictly Come Dancing and Jess Wright of The Only Way Is Essex and... well, just that. He gets VIP entry to Faces, Gants Hill, for example while lesser names such as, ooh, let's say Jimmy Smith, are left #fuming in the queue. But perhaps the best is that he gets Orient cup cakes made for him bearing his likeness, as seen in this photo he tweeted last week. Eat my face! 

02 November 2014

Leyton Orient 2 Coventry City 2, 1/11/14

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A game in which... it became apparent that there must be some sort of hoodoo upon Brisbane Road that prevents Orient from ever winning a home game. Perhaps the stadium was erected upon an ancient Indian burial ground and the Gods are displeased? Perhaps a terrible tragedy unfolded on the land in medieval times? Or perhaps the reasons are less the plot of a Stephen King novel and more that we're, well, just a bit shit?

Sigh. In truth there were further signs of improvement. In the first half Orient dominated possession, though only had one shot off target to show for it. In the second the team showed admirable spirit and bluster to come back from behind to lead 2-1, only to blow it at the death. Still, I think better things are to come from this squad, although (KLAXON! I'm about to run with the Stephen King analogies here) expect more Misery before they're really Shining.

Nathan Clarke 
Jump off your seat moment... Two actually. The first a jaw-dropping slide tackle from Mathieu Baudry in the first half that swept the ball away from Coventry's Gary Madine just as he was about to puncture the Orient net. The second a Benny Hill-esque combination of misjudgment and slip from Nathan Clarke that led to the visitors' first goal. I use these two contrasting incidents to illustrate a point: we still have very classy defenders in our squad, and if they can somehow eradicate the momentary lapses then we may have a foundation for climbing the table.

Give that man a medal... And talking of the defence, what a man Scott Cuthbert is. Whether crunching into tackles on the touchline, rising majestically like Ben Nevis to head Orient into the lead or growing a thick beard 20 minutes before the start of today's game simply through the power he has over his own testosterone, the Scotsman will be fundamental to the success or otherwise of the rest of this season.

Taxi for... Were it not for the fact that Jobi McAnuff bucked his ideas up for a 15-minute spell in the second half by God he would be feeling the full force of one of my metaphors likening him to a widely-mocked X-Factor contestant. As it is, the fact that he does momentarily display flashes of the class that you'd expect of a one-time Premier League captain makes it even more bewildering that the winger is offering so little in an Orient shirt.

"Fuck the technical shit"... Mauro Milanese showed that he truly appreciated the long tradition of Orient managers by sending out his players in 4-4-2 formation and hoping for the best. To be fair to him he's got the team trying to play more football along the floor – albeit at the moment mostly in a quadrangle between the defence and the goalkeeper – and he appears to have instilled a bit more passion into them. What a shame, then, that if his side lose to Oldham next week then he's likely to be replaced by, oh I don't know, Ada Martin the kit man in Francisco Becchetti's ever-patient search for stability and success.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Hey, what's this: a message from ex-Orient keeper Jamie Jones to fans of the club that paid his wages for six years and gave him the opportunity to make a career in professional football. A heartfelt vote of thanks? A stirring statement of support? Erm, no, this actually: "Another home win for you today? O wait... No it wasn't. Enjoy your relegation battle." I leave it to fan Edina to summarise the general reaction to this far more eloquently than I could: "What a muggy little c**t."

28 October 2014

Leyton Orient 0 Preston North End 2, 28/10/14

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A game in which... the result could have been so different. Imagine if ex-Orient keeper Jamie Jones hadn't pulled off a double-worldy in the first half; if Jay Simpson had buried his one-on-one minutes earlier; if half our squad wasn't injured; if we hadn't conceded two soft goals; if we hadn't sold Moses Odubajo; if our Italian owners hadn't forced Russell Slade out of the club; if money grew on trees; and if troubles really could melt like lemon drops... perhaps then we could've scraped a draw.

As it was Orient actually put in a pretty spirited performance – you couldn't really fault their effort – without coming away with anything to show for it. Yeah Preston are pretty good, but God knows we finished above them last season, which demonstrates just how far this club has fallen in the space of a few months. Depressing, really.

Gianvito Plasmati after being lightly brushed on the arm 
Jump off your seat moment... The moment that the ball fell invitingly to new boy Gianvito Plasmati on the edge of Preston's six-yard box with the goal gaping. Were it not for the fact he smashed the ball straight at Jamie Jones the 6ft 6in Italian may have instantly won the hearts of the Orient faithful. Still, throughout his time on the pitch he showed a few good touches, a couple of bad ones and one theatrical swan dive to the ground reminiscent of Willem Dafoe's iconic death scene in the film Platoon. Still, let's give the lad a chance before we totally write him off, hey?

Give that man a medal... Dean Cox worked his little cotton socks off tonight – and that's no metaphor, he really does wear little cotton socks – but most pleasing was the performance of Jay Simpson. The former Thailand backpacker is getting better and better each game, and he looked lively and threatening throughout.

Taxi for... McAnuff said.

"Fuck the technical shit"... It was strange sight to see Mauro Milanese patrolling the touchline tonight – not because he was first non-British manager to take charge of Leyton Orient, but because his hair appears to contradict seven rules of evolutionary biology, nine rules of quantum physics and every rule of fashion that has existed since the dawn of time. On the pitch nothing much seemed to have changed save for the fact Mauro had lumped an unfit Italian up front and boldly elected to give 11-year-old Scott Kashket a run out ahead of a presumably #fuming Chris Dagnall. Still, let's give the manager a chance before we totally write him off, hey?

Meanwhile on Twitter... Nice work from the Orient Ramble podcast boys, who helpfully illustrated the current status of Orient's usual starting XI from last season. And if that depresses you even more, cheer yourself up with this video of manager Mauro Milanese indulging in what passes for "entertainment" in Italy, as discovered by Jay Lillington.


26 October 2014

GUEST POST! Port Vale 3 Leyton Orient 0, 25/10/14

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Curiously, there's no "port" and no "vale" anywhere near Port Vale. Apparently it's not even a place at all. Despite all this, guest blogger Andy Brown managed to locate Orient somewhere in deepest, darkest Staffordshire. Probably wishes he hadn't bothered, mind. Here's his take on the game... 

Orient's rearguard action? Not so much
A game in which… The form book suggested that Orient would continue their bizarre record of winning away in grim northern towns following their surprising victory over Doncaster in the week. Only it didn’t pan out like that, as a ten-man Orient – far from putting in a dogged Rorke’s Drift rear-guard action – folded like a cheap tent to give Vale the easiest game they’ll play all season. 

Jump off your seat moment… Darius Henderson, who always goes up for headers flapping his arms about like a pig trying to fly, managed to earn himself a red card. None of us wanted to be there in the cold and rain either, but you didn’t see us getting ejected just to ride shotgun out of Stoke-on-Trent.

Give that man a medal… A tough call as nobody covered themselves in glory, but Gary Woods made a good save at 0-0 and Shane Lowry and Scott Cuthbert did their best in an otherwise poor defence. Dean Cox gave Orient a real lift when he came on, but the injury list is now so long that for Tuesday's game against Preston we may see Kevin Dearden on the (reinforced) bench.  

Taxi for… Plenty of shocking performances today, but the midfield in particular was non-existent, with no Vincelot or long term absentee Lloyd James. The “Marvin Bartley masquerading as a footballer” joke is wearing very thin, and the “Jobi McAnuff can’t be arsed for his five-figure-a-week salary” joke is even less amusing. To paraphrase the great Franz Beckenbauer: “Woods apart, you could take all of them, put them in a bag and hit them with a stick. Whoever got hit would deserve it”

“Fuck the technical shit”… In his post-match interview, Orient’s interim manager Kevin Nugent showed more evasiveness than an eel covered in oil. Apparently Orient didn’t start well, didn’t make tackles and would hope to have done better with ten men. No surprise then that the next day he was demoted from "acting-interim-caretaker-head-coach" to simply "coach", with ex-sporting director Mauro Milanese now in the driving seat. 


Burslem by day 
Meanwhile in a place not called Port Vale… Burslem may well look like a setting for The Walking Dead, which probably explains why Orient always do badly at Port Vale when it’s daylight, and they can see where they are. But it surprised me to learn from a friend and Staffordshire native that the Red Lion pub is in fact on the Robbie Williams heritage trail tour. No wonder he hit the drugs hard! It looks more to me like a guaranteed chance of getting stabbed, so someone is having a laugh!

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