06 August 2011

Five things to look forward to this season at Leyton Orient

There's nothing quite like the first day of the new football season. The anticipation, the expectation, the dreams... All of which tend to coming crashing down when Orient proceed to lose their first game 3-0 to Port Vale or someone.

Not this season though. This time we're going to lose 3-0 to Walsall. Just kidding. There's actually a strange smell in the east London air. No, not the festering odour of this season's pies being delivered to the Peter Allen bar. It's the aroma of optimism. A feeling that this could turn out to be a great campaign for Orient.

Here, then, are five things to look forward to...

1. Orient's short passing game

In the days of Glenn Morris, Orient were left with no choice but to play the ball out from the back since his sliced kicks rarely reached much further than the edge of his own penalty area. These days the Os' attacks deliberately begin with the goalkeeper and there's a firm intention to play the ball up the field rather than lumping it to the far end and hoping for the best. This is a great spectacle for fans. Who, after all, wouldn't enjoy watching our defence repeatedly passing the ball horizontally to each other until its stolen off them by the other team? Or Jamie Jones cutting out the middle man and simply throwing the ball straight to the opposition striker, as he did at Charlton. But for all the times it didn't work, there were many more when it did, as our seventh-placed finish proves.

2. The physical battle

Attempting to play a neat passing game is all very well, but in League One there's a breed of player - genetically linked to the Neanderthal race - who'll simply twat you if you try anything fancy like, say, controlling the ball. Size, then, is also key and the current squad is Orient's biggest for many years. New signings Scott Cuthbert, Marc Laird and David Mooney are all 6ft-plus and if things get really physical we can always rely on Dean Cox to punch someone in the knee.

3. The loanees

In pre-Russell Slade days, Orient's attempts to use the loan system were something akin to turning up at a cattle market hoping to secure a prize bull, only to end up with a mangy gerbil. Or worse, Sam Parkin. Not any more. Last season Paul-Jose M'Poku, Tom Carroll, Andrew Whing and Harry Kane all added to the enjoyment of afternoons at Brisbane Road, and with Russell's good judgement we should expect more of the same this campaign.

4. The Russell Slade smile

Managers of old at Brisbane Road, let's call them Geraint Williams, Martin Ling and Paul Brush for the sake of argument, tended to greet Orient goals with all the enthusiasm of a festival crowd who've just learnt that the surprise headliner on the main stage is Olly Murs. Not Russell Slade, whose highly-charged jigs down the touchline demonstrate the passion of a manager who's 100 per cent behind his team. Let's hope that this season we're seeing plenty of them. Might help him keep in shape, too.

5. Meeting old friends

Adam Chambers and Ryan Jarvis at Walsall, Jabo Ibehre at MK Dons, Gary Alexander at Brentford, Adam Boyd at Hartlepool... Yep, there are no shortage of players who are going to score against us this season. But it'll be nice to catch up with old friends safe in the knowledge that over the summer Orient have retained their best players, bolstered the squad and let go those who weren't at the top of their game. It really all does bode very well for this season. Let's hope things live up to expectations...
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