06 July 2017

Interview: Kent Teague "I have a history with Beyonce that's difficult to overcome"

Throughout the summer Orient fans had little better to do than to stare endlessly at the Twitter profile of a mysterious Texan investor, hoping beyond hope that his background photo of a London tube sign would become in focus enough to reveal the name "Leyton". 

This, as we now know, was the precursor to Kent Teague becoming the principal shareholder and new vice-chairman of the Orient. God bless America, y'all!

So why did he do it? Where's he going to take us? And what's his beef with Beyonce? I made up some faintly ridiculous questions to try to find out...

You said you’ve wanted to own a football club for 30 years. Did you ever imagine you’d end up with an east London team in the fifth tier of English football?
No! Not in my wildest dreams. I've tried very diligently to own an American soccer club which hasn't worked out yet. So there's no way I thought the first club would be in the UK. But I think it is desirable to own a club in London so that part of it has worked out really, really well. 

Why football as opposed to proper American sports like basketball, baseball or cheerleading?
I have looked at American Football, basketball, baseball, hockey... But I have three daughters and all of them play soccer. I've been either their coach or assistant coach so I understand the rules of the game and have loved it for a very long time. I'm talking 20 years. 

Before Leyton Orient, who did you support? 
Brazil. I happened to go to Rio de Janiero for my 40th birthday party about 15 years ago and at that time Brazil were world class. And I think I came home from that trip with three different versions of the jersey. I had a Ronaldo jersey, a Ronaldinho jersey and there was another one. And I wore them every other day of my life. 

Is there anything Leyton Orient can learn from American sports?
Maybe there are things commercially that English football could learn from American-style business. But technically from a football perspective – coaching, style of play – no, I don't think there are specifics that are going to make Leyton Orient better because we're American. 

Is there anything Leyton Orient can learn from Texan rodeos?
I hope not! Can you guys learn a lot from wearing a cowboy hat? Probably not. These are cultural differences. Things that are valuable in Texas don't necessarily translate to anywhere else.   

You’re the principal shareholder and vice-chairman of Leyton Orient: what are you personally going to bring to the party?
I have a very strong analytical capacity. I don't fear making a decision, or making a decision quickly. And the third thing that I do really well – I hope – is build rapport with people. 

Your name sounds like a superhero: What’s your superpower going to be when it comes to Orient?
Cryptic Kent, huh? I absolutely love that by the way. Honestly I've taken it on as an alter-ego. I hope that my superpower is that I help everyone else have a fantastic experience of being a Leyton Orient fan. 

Great, although that's not technically a superpower. What about being invisible so you can spy in the opposition dressing room? 
I will say something about that. Even if we knew the tactics of the opposition team, I do think that the creativity that's required to be a footballer is extremely important. And I know that with creativity sometimes comes mistakes. So I expect that our players are going to make mistakes on the field, and I hope that our fans are going to be extremely encouraging of our players to go ahead and make mistakes because I think out of them will come the magic that we want. 

When Barry Hearn first took over the club he introduced weddings at half-time on the pitch. Do you have any similar ideas to liven up our Saturday afternoons? 
I do have ideas that float through my head, but I think the fans and staff are going to generate the best ideas. I read every tweet, I read everything on Facebook and I'm reading the forums. We're looking for the best ideas. We want the fan experience to be phenomenal. If they want weddings, we can do weddings! 

What have learnt about Leyton Orient fans so far? Are we mental? 
Yes! Yes! Yes! And I'm excited about that because I share the same level of being a nutter. But I'll tell you what I've learned about the fans. The emails that I get, the Linked In notes, the tweets, the things I see on the forums, on Facebook, the passion, the love, the devotion, the identity that the fans have with Leyton Orient is phenomenal, fantastic, amazing... It's hard for me to describe the emotion I feel when I think about how brilliant the fans are of Leyton Orient. It's the reason I'm involved in the club. 

You said you’ve read a couple of history books about the club. Was one of them the crtically-acclaimed Leyton Orient Greats by Matt Simpson? 
Ha ha... No it wasn't. But my friend Damon [Goduto] has bought your book and so I'll be reading it on my way to London. 

What stood out for you about the history of our club in the books you have read? 
One of the books I read was about the effect World War I had on the club – about the three fallen heroes. It was very moving. 

Fast forward 10 years: What will be different about Leyton Orient to where it is now?
Not much. East London will probably change dramatically over the next 10 years, but Leyton Orient will remain a significant part of its social fabric. Hopefully we will have won and drawn more than we've lost. Hopefully we're graced by fantastic performances by our players that we all remember together and raise a pint to in the pub. Hopefully we'll have phenomenal coaches and players that go on to greatness with other clubs. 

Do you see us returning to being a club that alternates between League One and League Two, or can we take it further? 
In the short term, six or eight years, it's League Two or League One. Given where we are today it'll take us two, three, four years to go up a particular division. Where we go beyond that I just don't know. I think it's possible to be a Championship side but I hesitate to say that as it takes a little bit of luck and a different way of thinking, and honestly I don't know yet what that means. What I am committed to is making sure that from a financial, staff and coaching perspective that we have a great deal of stability over the next 10 or 20 years. I hope that translates to success on the pitch, but we'll have to wait and see. We're very realistic about how hard this is. 
It's going to be tough for a Texan to assimilate into east London culture. Let's see how you're getting on: 

Jellied eels or chicken fried steak?
Now, am I in east London or am I Texas? Chicken fried steak is what I have every Sunday with my family. But I'm probably not going to choose chicken fried steak if I'm in London. 

I wouldn't if I were you. Next: Chas & Dave or Beyonce?
See now this is not fair because Beyonce is from Houston, Texas, and I know some people who drove her around to gigs when she was a teenager. So I have a history with Beyonce that's a little difficult to overcome. So it has to be Beyonce. 

Well London's finest singalong-a-Cockney scallywags are going to pretty upset by that... 
They can take it up with Jay-Z and the twins! 

Last one: Bob Hoskins or Tommy Lee Jones? 
See this is not fair because Tommy Lee Jones is a Texan. You keep giving me Texan problems! 

I never said these questions would be easy, Kent
I've been to London 25 or 30 times, but I've spent 55 years in Texas so it's impossible for me to choose things in London over Texas. Unless I'm in London. 

Kent, you've been an absolute gentleman. Thanks for saving our club.
You're welcome. 

30 June 2017

The heroes and villains of the Becchetti era 2014-2017

In news that has brought joy to the hearts of every Orient fan, new chairman Nigel Travis has promised to get the club back to where it belongs. And where it belongs is in a League One relegation battle. 

It's a long road back to those glory days, so before we embark on the journey, let me take one final glance at the absolute carnage behind us with a selection of the heroes and the villains from Francesco Becchetti's catastrophic tenure of the club... 

HERO: Phillip Othen  
I think we've all come to love matchday announcer Phillip Othen for his brazen disregard for the conventions of colour matching in his choice of clothing; his Geordie-hen-night-esque refusal to wear a coat; and the fact that despite not being paid he carried on banging out the announcements almost as if he actually enjoyed it. That, and some subversive choices of pre-match songs over the aural torture instrument that doubles up as the Brisbane Road tannoy: Taxman by The Beatles; Charmless Man by Blur; Frankie by Sister Sledge... You didn't quite have the balls to play I Fucking Hate You by Godsmack though, did you Phil?

VILLAIN: Alessandro Angelieri 
To be fair, the former CEO of Leyton Orient is only a villain in the sense that an actor playing Captain Hook in a production of Peter Pan at a decrepit end-of-the-pier theatre is a villain. And really the analogy only stands up if that actor repeatedly forgets his lines, knocks over scenery and then inadvertently burns the whole theatre to the ground. Oh Alessandro. I mean, if anything a man who exists with no apparent sign of a brain should be lauded as a miracle of science, rather than lambasted for his stratospheric incompetence.

HERO: Linda Hendon
Were it not for the intervention of Linda, the prevailing memory of the Ian Hendon era would be the spectacle of Sean Clohessy hitting the nearest defender with an attempted cross, repeating on an endless loop like an infinite version of Chinese water torture. Luckily, however, the manager's wife-to-be was not going to let the fact that her husband was inexplicably aggressive towards fans and media stop her dishing out her own form of social media justice. Highlights included labelling mild-mannered fan Elliot Byrne as the "least intelligent person on Twitter" and flipping her lid when – post-sacking – she and Ian were apparently denied a free ticket to watch a game. A woman scorned...

VILLAIN: The Plymouth Herald  
Orient's stunning last-gasp 3-2 victory away at high-fliers Plymouth in February gave fans a glimmer of hope that perhaps relegation wasn't inevitable. Until, that is, the Plymouth Herald mounted a campaign against Liam Kelly for mildly shoving a six foot, 17-year-old ball boy. "KELLY SHOULD BE TORTURED TO DEATH FOR HIS BLOODTHIRSTY MURDER ATTEMPT ON A CHILD" ran their headlines for days and days, almost as if there is no news at all in Plymouth ever. A grown man, who is also a journalist, literally wrote some words calling for the FA to "impose a significant punishment" on Kelly and called the incident "shocking". The ball boy himself has now become the most famous person ever to hail from Plymouth, and is sometimes almost recognised as far and wide as nearby Saltash and Botusfleming. Kelly, of course, got a six-game ban...

HERO: Michael Collins 
It's hard to single out just one player from the last three seasons because every single player was absolute dog shit. JOKE! Plaudits of course to the entire youth team, Dean Cox, Jay Simpson and... yep, that's about it apart from Michael Collins. Pop into Brisbane Road right now and you're still likely to see him storming around the pitch, fighting the lost cause with every last breath – all without actually being paid. A king among men.

VILLAIN: Rob Gagliardi 
Early in Becchetti's tenure, Ryman Rob had the hardest job in the world: namely translating Fabio Liverani's demented ramblings into English. Luckily for the handsome Italian – via a stint as goalkeeping coach – he was then bumped upstairs to be head of recruitment. And who can blame him for accepting the role? After all, if I was entirely unqualified to do anything at all I'd probably take a well-paid job as a brain surgeon if someone was lunatic enough to offer it to me. And if I did, I would still probably cause far less horror with my scalpel than Gagliardi's signings of Jens Janse, Teddy Mezague and Ulrich N'Nomo inflicted on the football pitch.

HERO: Frederico Morais  
By 2017 an increasingly unhinged Francesco Becchetti was getting through coaching staff quicker than his pre-match bottles of Valpolicella. On April Fools' Day, Stone Island model Omar Riza made his debut in the manager's hot seat for a clash with Wycombe Wanderers, only to get sent off at half-time. That led to the bizarre spectacle of previously unknown 13-year-old boy Frederico Morais fulfilling the second-half coaching duties on the touchline, yelling instructions such as "STOP GOAL-HANGING!", "SCRAMBLE GOALKEEPERS!" and "IF YOU DON'T PASS TO US WE'RE TAKING THE BALL HOME!" And fair play to the young lad, he prevented the opposition scoring any goals during his 45-minute stint.

VILLAIN: Francesco Becchetti 
In reality we all know there's only one villain in all of this. I've called Francesco Becchetti many things over the years – a lot of it libellous. Spiteful, incompetent, psychopathic, vain... no doubt he's all of those things. What became apparent during his final couple of months as owner of Leyton Orient was that he is also a rank coward. A coward for not having the guts to offer even a single word of explanation to fans or media as to how things had gone quite so badly. No apology for putting families in jeopardy by not paying wages. No justification for buying a leather jacket with a canary-yellow collar. His parting shot: an evidently-ghostwritten quote that even so provided a final insight into his deluded mind-state: "I have, unfortunately, not been able to dedicate myself to following the club as closely as I would have wanted." As if the reason for the whole catastrophe was his lack of involvement rather than the diametric opposite. Thankfully it's been proved that Leyton Orient is sturdy enough to withstand the attacks of a lunatic owner hellbent on destroying it. We survived, and now the only way is up. Metaphorically, that is. Technically we could end up in a National League relegation battle. But as long as Francesco Becchetti is nowhere near it, that's just fine by me...

Not massively bored or offended by any of this? Here's a selection of other posts I've written during the Becchetti era: 

Orient v Colchester and the pitch invasion 29/4/17 

An open letter to Francesco Becchetti 17/3/17 

The 10 good things about the 2014/15 season 14/5/2015

How to relegate a football club in 11 easy steps 9/5/2015

How has it come to this? 19/4/15

Our proud history: An open letter to Francesco Becchetti 1/10/14

30 April 2017

Leyton Orient 1 Colchester United 3, 29/4/17

Let me tell you about a  genuine recurring nightmare of mine. It always begins with me wearing the red of Leyton Orient and about to take to the pitch at Brisbane Road for a league match. But then, of course, I realise that my football ability – or lack of – means that I'm going to be exposed, humiliated, found out.

This must be what it's like to be Gianvito Plasmati in real life. But I tell you the story not to make a cheap crack at our former striker, but to say that in my wildest dreams I did imagine being on the pitch at Brisbane Road during a match – though not of course for the reasons that did actually lead me to the centre circle at 4:40pm yesterday afternoon. 

How did I get there? Let's rewind a bit. I've written at length about the toxic cocktail of vanity, incompetence and spite on the part of our owner Francesco Becchetti that has directly taken Orient from the brink of the Championship to relegation out of the Football League in just three catastrophic seasons – along with the real and present danger that the club will be liquidated out of existence at a 12 June appointment with the High Court

The Italian billionaire's most recent gambit was not paying any of the players or staff of the club their March wages until the last week of April. Why? Only two possible explanations spring to my mind: 

1) Becchetti really is so evil he would deliberately plunge honest, hardworking staff into financial strife 
2) He gave amoeba-brained CEO Alessandro Angelieri the responsibility for wage payment 

Alessandro Angelieri
And so, one might think, that despite wilful inaction from the EFL throughout the entirety of Becchetti's gross mismanagement of Leyton Orient, perhaps the issue of non-payment of staff would be something that the governing body might want to concern itself with. 

But apparently not. Not within their remit, which is a bit like the Civil Aviation Authority claiming that it's "not their problem" if the owner of an airline decides to deliberately fly all of its planes into a cliff.

(And let's hope Francesco Becchetti never does purchase an airline, otherwise he'll be there in cockpit, telling the pilots how to do their job until he becomes so exasperated with their inability to get to the destination faster that he wrestles the controls from them and crashes the aircraft into the sea.)

The EFL were "exceptionally concerned", according to their statement, but, hey, I'm "exceptionally concerned" that the hawksbill turtle is a critically-endangered species, but I'm not really doing anything about it. (Sorry turtles, I've had a lot on of late.) 

This was the real zinger in their statement though, referring to their Owners & Directors Test: "It is important that supporters understand that the Test governs the eligibility of who is able to own a club – it does not also ensure that those individuals have the capacity to manage it properly." 

Patronising and mental. I'd love to see the actual test: 

Q1) Are you a serial killer? 
Q2) Do you have any nuclear weapons? 
If you have answered "yes" to any question, I'm afraid you haven't passed the EFL's stringent Owners & Directors Test. You should still be able to take over a Premier League club though. 

And so to Saturday, and it was fitting that Orient's last league goal at Brisbane Road came from the rocket boot of Sandro Semedo, one of the many young, promising Orient players given a baptism of fire in a League Two relegation battle thanks to Francesco Becchetti's post-Christmas refusal to actually sign anyone to replace all the senior players he'd ousted. 

That put the game at 1-1 until Jens Janse –  signed by Rob Gagliardi, an interpreter inexplicably tasked with the role of Head of Recruitment – tried to prove his worth as a non-league player by passing directly to an opposition striker in the Orient penalty area. Another Colchester goal two minutes later and Orient fans were on the pitch, despite there being seven minutes of the game remaining. 

Was this the right thing to do? For me: yes. Surely an owner of a football club cannot be allowed to deliberately sabotage his own team; not pay players or staff; or wear a leather jacket with a bright yellow furry collar? No one was listening to us. No one was helping us. We had to do something.

And then how utterly fitting that one of the EFL's final acts in its 112-year association with Leyton Orient was a self-confessed, bare-faced lie. They convinced the police and the club to announce that the game had been abandoned, only to then conclude the remaining seven minutes once all the fans had left. 

Why? Because, according to them, they needed to "maintain the integrity of the competition". Yes, that's right the EFL used the word "integrity", and consequently should have as much trouble looking themselves in the mirror without bursting into hysterics as Mauro Milanese does when glancing at his hair. 

Let me tell you about "integrity", EFL. Integrity is every fan who contributed their own money to an emergency fund to help out the unpaid players and staff in April. Integrity is anyone who contributed to the fighting fund – now over £140k – that could be needed to keep the club in existence. Integrity is the Colchester fans who sung "Stand up for the Orient" and the countless other supporters of rival clubs across the country who've offered sympathy and empathy with Os fans. There but for the Grace of God go they. 

So there I was, on the pitch. The peaceful protest could mean a points deduction in the National League next year, but even if it does I would do it again. Every Orient fan knows that with Becchetti still in control of our football club, relegation is the least of our concerns. 

We're clearly not going to get any help from the EFL in ousting the billionaire and only he knows what his next move will be. But the one thing he can't touch is the soul of club. That soul was out there on the pitch on Saturday. It exists in the memories, the bond, the connection between Leyton Orient fans. Players, managers, psychopathic owners can come and go, but us fans will always be there, like the generations of supporters before and – hopefully – after us. 

Me and my dad will still be there too – cheering, complaining, losing the will to live – whatever league we're in. And, hey, if we get relegated far enough down the pyramid maybe my dream of turning out for Leyton Orient will one day become a reality. Where's my boots? 

01 April 2017

Leyton Orient 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2, 1/4/17

A game in which... opposition fans sung "Stand up for the Orient"; a group of home supporters broke into the gantry to unfurl a banner proclaiming "Bollocks"; and local mechanic Errol McKellar fulfilled assistant manager duties in the dugout for the second half. So far so surreal.

What next: Rowan Liburd applauded off the pitch after a man-of-the-match performance? Yes, actually, because this is the end of days at Brisbane Road thanks to that potent combination of incompetency, egomania, spite and Valpolicella that swims around in the brain of our esteemed president.

It was an emotional day: the tragic death of fan Frankie Bish – "Mr Orient" – on Thursday turning the dark clouds already hanging over the club to pitch black. As always of late, the players gave it everything – despite not being paid this month – and even started the game pretty brightly.

The early sending off meant Orient's prospect of defeat moved from "cast-iron certainty" to "inevitable" – not that it really matters when the very existence of the club is at stake.

But what was evident today from the defiant chants and the heartfelt stadium-wide ovation in memory of Frankie was that the soul of Leyton Orient is strong – and that's the one thing the anti-Midas touch of Francesco Becchetti can't destroy.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment some wag in the backroom staff put Jens Janse's name on the team sheet as an April Fool's prank, only for it to catastrophically backfire after no one remembered to take him off it again and the missing Dutchman actually turned up on the pitch.

Taxi for... Charles Breakspear for red-carding Tom Parkes for a borderline foul on Wycombe's Garry Thompson. Given Orient's perilous state it was a decision that suggests the referee's hobbies outside of the game might include the illegal hunting of near-extinct species and kicking cripples.

In the dug out... A while back I joked that the next manager of Leyton Orient would be Ada the kit man. We aren't that far off that becoming a reality since Becchetti's relentless snipering of his own gaffers has taken us down to the bare bones of the club's coaching staff.

Omer Riza – dressed like a self-conscious dinner guest who'd mistakenly believed the dress code to be smart casual rather than black-tie – was the latest to drink from the poison chalice of Leyton Orient management.

He no doubt created some sort of future Trivial Pursuit question by getting himself sent off 45 minutes into his debut, leaving it to youth coach Frederico Morais (with the help of the aforementioned Errol McKellar) to attempt the footballing equivalent of trying to extinguish a volcano with a water pistol in the second half.

And credit to these loyal professionals and the many others still trying to keep our club afloat – and support their own families – despite not being actually paid this month by the billionaire Francesco Becchetti. This latest act by the president is a true measure of the man.

17 March 2017

An open letter to Francesco Becchetti

Dear Mr Becchetti,

I last wrote to you in October 2014, just after you’d ousted Russell Slade and Matt Porter from Leyton Orient, urging you to respect the long-held values of the club you’d recently bought.

I think it’s safe to say you never read that letter, partly because I posted it on my blog which no one reads, but mostly because in the following two and a half years you’ve done pretty much the opposite: grinding those long-held club values of respect, community, inclusivity and togetherness into the ground under the elevated heel of your designer Italian shoes.

Why did you do that? Well, I can’t profess to know for certain what goes on inside your brain – and I suspect even the most talented psycho-analyst would have a tough job negotiating their way through all the vitriol, delusion and Chianti.

But here, at least, is my best attempt at explaining why you’ve almost destroyed something I’ve held dear for all my life.

You wanna be adored…

Why did you buy a football club? Well, even though you’d shown no previous interest in the sport, it’s easy to see why you’d want to throw a few of your spare millions at a little plaything to break the monotony of board meetings about waste disposal in Albania.

Why Leyton Orient though? Maybe you couldn’t quite afford a club that was actually any good. But more likely you wanted to take something that was previously unsuccessful and claim any future glory as entirely your own.

No point buying Man Utd or Chelsea – you’d be on a hiding to nothing. With Orient, I suppose you thought: well, I can’t exactly do any worse. Little did you know…

I think you wanted fans to sing your name. I think you wanted to be paraded through the litter-strewn streets of Leyton. I think you have a massive, out-of-control ego and wanted the supporters of the club to adore you, to exalt you.

That’s why you quickly drove out pretty much everyone previously associated with the club: Russell Slade, Matt Porter, Juliet the cook… That’s why of the nine managers you’ve appointed, not a single one of them had any previous track record of success. Should any of them had achieved anything with Orient, you wanted to be able to say that you found them, you nurtured them.

That’s why you created a ludicrous reality TV show about the club and got them to film you gazing purposefully across the hallowed turf of Brisbane Road, hoping no doubt that none-the-wiser Italian audiences would think you ruled over something far grander than you actually did.

Christ, you even threw £7,500 a week at Andrea Dossena specifically to reinforce this ruse and persisted with the demonstrably insane Fabio Liverani as manager on the basis that at least he was a “name” Italian audiences could associate themselves with.

You also paid Nicole Kidman presumably millions of Euros to sit next to you at the launch of your TV channel and use every ounce of her acting skills to try not to look like rancid shame was oozing from every pore of her body.

And remember your behaviour after an inconsequential win against Portsmouth on Boxing Day 2015? Lumbering drunkenly on to the pitch, kicking Andy Hessenthaler up the arse, gesticulating wildly in front of the fans with your grotesque belly hanging out over your belt.

This was what you wanted, wasn’t it? A bit of adulation. A bit of adoration.

Sticky fingers

Thing is, you’re so vain, so deluded, that you thought that you knew how to run a football club – or even manage the first XI – better than those who’ve done it all their working lives.

You couldn’t help interfering in everything, right down to team selection, substitutions, club communications…

Which is bad in itself, of course, but you were really, really terrible at it. You employed Alessandro Angelieri as CEO of the club, a man whose stratospheric levels of incompetence would be comical if they weren’t so damaging.

You employed an Italian TV journalist first as Technical Director, then one month later made him Head of Communications; and Rob Gagliardi as Head of Looking A Bit Handsome and Sometimes Scouting Slovenian Players From FM17.

You insisted that Gianvito Plasmati set foot on a football pitch for an actual football match. You hired Alberto Cavasin. You turned up at the training ground to generously offer your “charisma”.

None of this really worked, though, did it? Because as a direct consequence of your leadership we got relegated and then found ourselves in a battle to avoid ending our 112-year stay in the Football League.

Cruel summer (and winter)

But you’re not just a grossly incompetent egomaniac, are you Mr Becchetti? You’re also a spiteful, vengeful, grossly incompetent egomaniac.

We got some early glimpses of how you behave when you believe you’ve been crossed. Your insistence that players attend double training sessions for two weeks after the end of the 2014/15 season, preventing some from being reunited from their families. Imprisoning the squad in a hotel for a week after another loss in 2015/16.

Your bizarre half-time announcement humiliating Darius Henderson for getting caught in a traffic jam. Your inexplicably brutal sacking of goalkeeping coach Lee Harrison. The freezing out of Jobi McAnuff when your plans to oust him from the club didn’t come off. Ditto Jay Simpson and Alex Cisak. And God only knows what you had against Scott Kashket

But worst of all was the despicable way you treated club legend Dean Cox, which really showed just how spiteful you could be. 

It really grated that Deano was more popular than you, didn’t it? I mean, the Norovirus was more popular than you at the time, but anyway, when your plans to move him on from the club backfired, you ensured that not only would Coxy never turn out for Orient again, but that he’d be unable to play for any other club until the next transfer window. 

Vengeance is yours

But what really upset you was that by the time your catastrophic ownership of the club had cast us to the depths of League Two, the fans had the gall to complain a bit.

You airily wafted away the mild-mannered chants of displeasure from your gallery vantage point like you were brushing a splattering of your rampant dandruff from your shoulder. You clearly regarded us fans with utter contempt.

But what really sent you over the edge was our peaceful protest about the way the club was being run, didn’t it? This was the point that you realised that the game was up: that there was no chance you were ever going to get the adoration you craved.

You could have planned a dignified exit from there. But you wanted to stick the boot in first, didn’t you?

You instructed the spam-brained Alessandro Angelieri to post a jaw-dropping statement on the website blaming the lack of effort from players such as Jordan Bowery and the aforementioned Henderson and McAnuff as the reason behind the club’s demise.

I think you actually believe that, don’t you? That you breezed in, threw a bit of money around, but were ultimately let down by the players.

So you transfer-listed half the squad, pulled the plug on any further recruitment and stopping paying everyone from the taxman to the printers of the matchday programme.

Worse still, despite the fact you have explicitly stated you want to sell the club, you are apparently not responding to any expressions of interest from potential buyers.

Such is your spite, you would rather drive us into the ground – or even put us out of existence – than try to recoup a few of the millions you’ve spunked so far.

That’s your ultimate revenge on the fans who wouldn’t adore you, isn’t it? What a pathetic, small-minded man you are.

Rise again

The thing is, Mr Becchetti, it won’t work. Because a football club isn’t just a collection of assets that can be liquidated. A football club is a community; a collective spirit; the sum of all the memories of all the people that have shouted for joy or cried tears of anguish in the stands in over a century of existence.

And whether you leave us in administration, in the National League or building a phoenix club from the ashes of Brisbane Road, you can’t take any of that away from us.

One way or the other, we’ll all still have Leyton Orient. And it’ll be a Leyton Orient that’s no longer infected by your poison. And whatever shape that may take, it’ll still be a better, happier place to be than the Leyton Orient of your tenure.

So hopefully we’ll be saying ciao for good pretty soon, Mr Becchetti. Who knows, perhaps one day someone will give you the adoration you desire. As to us Leyton Orient fans? I doubt we’ll give you a second thought once you’re gone.


Matt Simpson

Francesco shows just how bothered he is
about the current plight of Leyton Orient

04 February 2017

Leyton Orient 1 Carlisle United 2, 4/2/17

A game which... was preceded by a major selection headache for Orient latest's puppet manager Danny Webb. Namely: could he find 11 players whose registration papers were in order and weren't being frozen out Francesco Becchetti? Thankfully he managed to rustle up a few kids from the local park, a couple of guys who Rob Gagliardi had identified on FM17 and some bloke who'd once almost made it into the five-a-side team of the Stevenage branch of Specsavers.

Incredibly this bunch put up more fight than we've probably seen all season at Brisbane Road. They were still pretty much useless, mind, but God knows it's a big ask for this lot to get us out of the total mess Mr Becchetti has left us in. Still, respect to them for giving it a go and perhaps an infinitesimal glimmer of hope that we won't be relegated.

Today's team 

Jump off your seat moment... The moment Gavin Massey scored a goal that wasn't at the time required to be preceded by the word "consolation". To clarify for more recent fans of Leyton Orient: a "goal" – as opposed to a "consolation goal" – is something that was occasionally witnessed at Brisbane Road mostly during the 1970s and in 2013/14. Of course, by the second half Massey's goal had actually become a "consolation goal" and the order of the universe was thus restored. 

Give that man a medal... Actually Gavin Massey again for running his socks off and being a constant menace to the ball boys on the side of the pitch and sometimes the Carlisle defence. If we are going to have any chance of staying up we're going to need wily old pros like Massey (24), Tom Parkes (25), Nigel Atangana (27) and Nicky Hunt (58) to stand up and be counted.  

Taxi for... Now, it's easy to mock Rowan Liburd's performance today, but let's get some perspective here guys: he's severely lacking match practice. That's because he's evidently never played a football match in his life. Give him time to learn the basics and we could have a 20-goal a man in our 2026/27  season in the Essex Olympian Senior League Premier Division. (Yeah, I did the math.) 

In the dug out... It was a curious decision for Danny Webb to turn up to his first match dressed as a Romford estate agent, but fair play to him for trying to patch up the footballing equivalent of a crumbling tenement block that the owner has deliberately set fire to. I mean, Webb has essentially been tasked with saving Orient from relegation not with one hand tied behind his back, but with both hands figuratively chopped off and buried in an Albanian waste dump. If he can pull it off it will count as the greatest Orient managerial feat of all time. 

Danny Webb

Meanwhile on Twitter... "The manager explained his decision to me and I respect that" tweeted Alex Cisak in explanation of being dropped not just from the team, but the whole squad. Webb himself claimed that "it's not that Alex has done anything particularly wrong" but that "we have Alex, Charlie Grainger and Sam all going for the number one jersey." Or to put it another way, "We have an international goalkeeper with nearly 200 senior appearances who's pretty much solely responsible for Orient not already being down, and a 20-year-old and 19-year-old with three appearances between them all going for the number one jersey." 

So you don't have to be tin-hatted conspiracy nut to infer that transfer-listed Cisak was dropped for something other than footballing reasons, not least because on what planet would you throw an untested teenager into a relegation dogfight in League Two? Or rather, there's not exactly a shortage of evidence of Francesco Becchetti freezing out players and interfering in team affairs. 

Not blaming Webb personally - seems like a decent guy and I'd probably buy a property off him - but it's yet another example of the psychopathic mismanagement that stems directly from Francesco Becchetti. It's almost as if the Italian is upset that Donald Trump is getting so much publicity of late so has decided to take his own narcissistic megalomania off the fucking scale in response. 

As Donald himself would tweet: "Sad". 

Not a patch on Francesco Becchetti 

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