15 July 2011

Five things we've learnt so far this summer

Summer at Brisbane Road is usually a time when both staff and fans can relax, sit back and watch other clubs sign up all the decent players.

This year it was different because, incredibly, some of those decent players were actually on Orient's books. The fact that we've managed to hang on to the core members of an almost-successful squad - not to mention the manager - and added some extra quality bodes very, very well for next season. In which case it is thus almost inevitable that Orient will be relegated.

Here, then, are five things we've learnt so far this summer...

1. Russell's got balls
It would have been easy for Russell Slade to give Scott McGleish another season. A fans' favourite, Orient's top scorer for 2010/11 and a player that always gives 100 per cent. But instead the manager politely showed Scotty the door and moved quickly to replace him with a striker marginally younger and marginally better in Jamie Cureton - a move something akin to dumping Fearne Cotton so you can go out with Holly Willoughby. Still, when you miss out on the play-offs by one point these margins are important. Which begs the question, can bold Russell really do without Ryan Jarvis's guaranteed two goals a season? Time will tell.

2. Loyalty isn't dead!
For most footballers loyalty means not sleeping with your wife's sister too often. But, with rival clubs circling around manager Russell Slade and players such as Jamie Jones, Jimmy Smith and Dean Cox, loyalty was tested to the limit this summer. So, it was refreshing to see such fierce devotion to Orient among the staff. Russell Slade: "An opportunity arose with a Championship club... I was not given permission to speak to them"; Jamie Jones: "League One goalkeeper - for now"; Jimmy Smith: "My contract is up. I will have to speak to them about whether I'll sign a new deal or move on."

3. Players get really, really bored in the summer
Thanks to the delights of Twitter we now know that, for players, summer is a long, soul-destroying stretch of interminable boredom, punctuated only by occasional games of Pro-Evo or getting a new tattoo. By July, Dean Cox, Jimmy Smith and George Porter were driven to taking the expression 'thick as two short planks' to its logical conclusion, with this series of pranks.

4. Dean Smith should probably do a bit more research
"I think a few Orient fans I've spoken to said he's had a few injuries," said Walsall manager Dean Smith of his new signing Adam Chambers, suggesting perhaps that his research might have been a little more in-depth. (Next week, Deano on new signing Adrien Patulea: "Yeah, some bloke down the pub told me he reckons he's got a bit of class.") Still, Smith has long been a loyal servant to Orient and continues to do his former club many favours. In signing Ryan Jarvis, for example, he's virtually guaranteed that Orient won't concede a goal in their opening fixture against the Saddlers.

5. We might get to see Orient past v Orient present
Have you ever wondered how the current Orient team would fare against Os teams of old? Well, we might just find out as - due to an adminstrative error - Martin Ling is back in league football as manager of Torquay. Predictably enough our one-time gaffer has already signed teacher's pet Brian Saah and has been sniffing around Craig Easton. Should Orient draw Torquay in a cup competiton then expect our current crop to be lining up against a 4-4-2 formation that includes Derek Duncan, Loick Pires and JJ Melligan. And who'd win? Well, perhaps football would be the winner. Just kidding. 
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