13 December 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

19 October 2014

Leyton Orient 0 MK Dons 0, 18/10/14

A game which... optimists might describe as a point gained, pessimists would consider two points lost while everyone else will just ponder all the five billion ways they could have better spent that 90 minutes. Oh, Orient. Sure, you huffed and puffed a bit in the first half, but the contrast between this season and last – when you roared back from 1-0 down to beat MK Dons and remain top of the table – is huge. Huge, Nuge, huge...

Karl Robinson
Jump off your seat moment... For Karl Robinson it was every single moment the ball entered the Orient box, whereupon he'd leap around maniacally screeching for a phantom penalty. By the second half Orient's Kevin Dearden became so incensed with this behaviour that he confronted the MK manager, a scene which resembled an ill-conceived comedy sketch in which James Corden is berated by a giant slug.

Give that man a medal... A sterling performance from Shane Lowry today, including one Exocet of a shot with his left foot that, had it not bounced off the MK keeper, would probably by now be hurtling past Kiev. And he's no chicken when it comes to tackling either. Sorry. 

Darius Henderson
Taxi for... Darius Henderson. The big striker spent most of the game slugging it out with MK defender Kyle McFadzean like a punch-drunk ex-heavyweight persuaded back into the ring for one last shot at glory. Were Henderson starring in Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V or Rocky: Assignment Miami Beach this would have constituted a fine performance. As a striker in League One, not so much. 

"Fuck the technical shit"... "I'm in charge of this football team," said Kevin Nugent defiantly after the game, ironically at the precise moment that his clandestine Italian paymasters were signing an unfit, low-scoring striker on his behalf. (Welcome to Orient, Gianvito Plasmati!) I can't even joke about this anymore: the fact that the club has not uttered a single word on Nugent's position is beyond belief, and it's a disgrace to treat a decent and loyal servant of Orient in this manner. 

Meanwhile in the programme... Props to Orient's media and communications officer Jonny Davies this week. Since the Italians introduced omertà to the club, Jonny now has exactly 24 hours of each day spare, so devoted some time to creating this sly little dig at Franchise FC – a heartfelt two-page paean to former Wimbledon home Plough Lane. Jonny: we're with you in spirit. 

04 October 2014

Leyton Orient 1 Swindon Town 2, 4/10/14

Darius Henderson
A game in which... Orient's aggression, desire and passion made them extremely dangerous. Unfortunately that aggression, desire and passion was concentrated entirely into a five-second melee in added time that saw Dean Cox shout at Nathan Byrne's knee and Darius Henderson juggernaut himself into an unfortunate Swindon player who is now presumably extracting himself from the back of the West Stand. 

Other than that the Os were insipid, error-strewn and lacking in ideas. If this is the new dawn then perhaps we should have all stayed in bed.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment Jay Simpson was released on goal by a wayward Swindon back pass only to be called offside in direct contradiction of the actual rules of the game of football. One can only imagine what would have happened if the striker had been able to continue his run. I'll go out on a limb and say that he would have scuffed a weak shot into the corner flag. That's what you get if you take a gap year from your career to go backpacking round Thailand. 

Give that man a medal... Poor old Dean Cox. God knows he gave it his all today but one man alone cannot win football matches. At the moment the midfielder must feel a bit like Keith Richards trying to jam with the Leyton 1st district cub scouts brass band and Rochelle from the Saturdays. 

Taxi for... Now, it's easy to knock Marvin Bartley, so that's exactly what I'm going to do. I really can't imagine what the question is if he is the answer, unless it's "What would happen if you asked a qualified window fitter with no previous experience of football to play in midfield for a League One club?" 

"Fuck the technical shit"... Presumably to put clear blue water between himself and his former boss, Kevin Nugent opted to tinker with his formation throughout the game, starting with a 4-2-3-1, moving back to 4-4-2, giving 7-2-3-4 a bash, reverting to a 8-0-0-7-1 then seeing how he fared with 0-1-9-8-2. None of this had any discernible effect so he instead resorted to trying to substitute Chris Dagnall 20 minutes after he'd already brought him off. 

Let's face it, Nuge – a decent and loyal guy – probably isn't the right person to sort this whole sorry mess out. When you have a mess of this size, you need someone with proper experience of waste management. Oh, hang on... 

Meanwhile on Twitter... Hats off to James Turley for producing this meme referencing the infamous moment last season when a Swindon pitch invader tried to attack Jamie Jones. Still, there was no such nonsense from Robins fans this time round. Instead they tried to set fire to the East Stand twice and then one have-a-go-hero tried to take on eight of the Metropolitan Police's finest. Top work lads! 

01 October 2014

Our proud history: An open letter to Mr Becchetti

Dear Mr Becchetti,

I have to confess, when you glided in to your first press conference as the new owner of Leyton Orient Football Club, I liked you.

Francisco Becchetti 
With your piercing eyes and your brooding charm, you reminded me a bit of Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

You said that one of the things that attracted you to Orient was our proud history. You also said that you wouldn't put a timescale on the success you craved; that you would be patient. That was sensible. That was nice.

But I'm sorry to say, Mr Becchetti, that recent events have made me question whether all those nice things you said were actually true.

A quick history lesson

Now, I'm very conscious that there are all sorts of rumours and accusations flying around about the exact circumstances that led to Russell Slade's departure last week, but what does seem clear is that at some point around seven games into the season you let it be known that the manager's job was under imminent threat if results were not to improve quickly.

And that really upsets me. Because if – as you said – you truly appreciated Orient's proud history and the DNA of the club you bought, you wouldn't have done that.

After all, it only takes a cursory glance at Leyton Orient: The Complete Record by Neilson N Kaufman, The Centenary Handbook by Neilson N Kaufman or perhaps The Men Who Made Leyton Orient FC by Neilson N Kaufman to understand that – historically speaking – Orient do not kneejerk their managers out of a job at the merest hint of a few mediocre results.

Tommy Taylor, for example, spent five years in the job, despite nearly taking Orient into the Conference twice. As a consequence fans were rewarded with two play-off finals and the opportunity to watch 157 different midfielders in the space of a few seasons.

After securing promotion to League One in 2005/06 Martin Ling looked like he was going to take the club straight back down again for the majority of the following season. But chairman Barry Hearn showed loyalty to the manager, who eventually kept us up then took us to the summit of League One by Christmas 2007.

God knows, even Paul Brush was given two years, despite consistently inciting performances from the very depths of hell and signing Carl Hutchings

He's got no hair... 

Which brings me to Russell Slade – the manager you were very fortunate to inherit, Mr Becchetti. This is a man who in his four and a bit seasons with Leyton Orient saved us from relegation once, missed out on the play-offs by one position twice, drew with Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup, and got us to within one penalty kick of the Championship. All without spending a single penny on transfer fees.

And what you should find particularly interesting is that in-between all that Russell Slade had a shocker of a season in 2011/12. Pretty much any other club would have sacked their manager before Christmas with the same run of results.

But I like to think we're not like pretty much any other club. Barry Hearn had the balls to stick with his man throughout that torrid time – and the rewards were plain to see.

And so to this season. Russell Slade didn't become a bad manager in seven games. In fact – and here's another bit of history for you, Mr Becchetti – the start to the season is entirely consistent with every other one in Slade's managerial career apart from the last. His teams always start appallingly. And then he turns it round. That's his thing.

Your club

So, Mr Becchetti, I don't know what would have happened if Russell Slade had stayed in his job. Hell, he'd have probably gone to Cardiff even if you hadn't hung the Sword of Damocles over his head.

But I do know this: the last few weeks have felt pretty unedifying as an Orient fan.

I don't want Orient to feel like any other club. I want success, sure, but not at any price.

I want us to remain a club staffed by decent, honourable people. A club where this year over 200 fans travel to northern France to pay respects at the graves of the three Orient players who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme. A club where a player who missed a crucial play-off final penalty joins supporters in the bar post-match to apologise and commiserate. A genuine community club.

Which brings me on to ex-CEO Matt Porter. Most importantly, Matt was a fan of Orient. Always was. The fact that you apparently asked him to resign his position on the board and then today contradicted yourself by saying his position was always a "transitional" one (first we've heard of it!) really does make me question whether you truly appreciate who this club is and what it stands for.

Francisco Becchetti 
And so, a word of advice to you, Mr Becchetti, delivered by way of laborious metaphor (yeah, better get used to that if you're going to carry on reading this blog): You may have the brooding charm of Gary Oldman's Dracula, but that doesn't mean you have to go around ripping out people's throats with your teeth.

Lots of love,

Matt xxx

02 September 2014

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Peterborough United 2 Leyton Orient 3, 2/9/14

Orient's formation tonight 
A game in which... Russell Slade didn't just rip up the football book of tactics, but doused it in petrol, set it alight and scattered its burning embers over the London Road turf. Yes, by fielding four central defenders, four central midfielders and two centre forwards, the manager played a team so lacking in width that it was like watching 11 players do the conga for 90 minutes.

Not that it prevented Orient recording a relatively straightforward victory over the league leaders – despite playing much of the second half with only 10 men – and there were plenty of signs that things are going in the right direction this season.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment that led to Orient's second goal when Lloyd James released Chris Dagnall with an outside-of-the-boot pass so sublime it was almost as if he actually meant it. Just kidding: this was no accident and was the leek-flavoured icing on the Welsh cake of a superb performance by Orient's midfield playmaker.

Give that man a medal... Despite Lloyd James's heroics and another commanding display by Gary Woods, it was Chris Dagnall who swiped the man-of-the-match fake Champagne tonight – and for good reason. The little Scouse terrier was a constant menace, scoring two goals and setting up the other. But don't listen to me, hear it from the man himself in his post-match interview in which he screeched: "Laaaaaaa wheeee laaaa eeeee llaaaa wheee laaa laaaa llama whee." Or something like that.

Don't worry Marvin, there's always this...
Taxi for... Oh Marvin Bartley. Stitched up like a kipper for Peterborough's first goal, wasteful in possession and demonstrating an alarming inability to control a football. It turns out the midfielder used to install double glazing for a living –  and he certainly continues to deliver twice the pane for Orient fans whenever he's on the pitch. Sorry.

"Fuck the technical shit"... What is Russell Slade's preferred staring XI? Well, it's September and still only one man knows the answer to this... so if anyone comes across that man can you ask him to tell Russell what it is. Woods or Legzdins in goal? Mooney or Henderson up front? Omozusi or Lowry at left back? Bartley or a packet of Monster Munch on the bench? Tough decisions for the manager.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Much consternation from Os fans tonight over the Sky Sports commentary team's relentless drooling over Peterborough. After the 34,000th mention of the fact that Posh have a relatively young team Kris Hood was moved to tweet this picture of their fresh-faced players. At one point co-commentator and professional idiot Garry Birtles got so over-excited he compared a Posh free kick to those of David Luiz. "Bit different because he plays for Peterborough and it went over the bar," deadpanned Os fan Edina. Touché.

18 August 2014

GUEST BLOG! Oldham Athletic 1 Leyton Orient 3, 16/8/14

With Orient in the midst of their deepest crisis ever, having lost 100% of their league games so far this season, Andy Brown travelled to Oldham to see if they could dig themselves out of their hole. Here's what he wrote... 

A game in which… Like buses, you wait for one to come along and three turn up at once. Yup, not
only did Orient return to winning ways in the league with three goals, but strikers scored all them and Dean Cox took his tally of assists for the season to 50 (Ok, five, but that’s still insane for three matches).

Scott Cuthbert’s return to the back four had little impact in the first half as they continued to play with all the precision of Stevie Wonder playing darts. Forte raced through unchallenged to put Oldham 1-0 up, but Cox and Henderson (who’s already earned his own song) yet again proved the decisive double-act in goals and assists to help the Os to a comfortable second half and deserved away win.

Jump off your seat moment... David Mooney responded to criticism of his shocking 1.5 game barren spell with a well taken goal from a narrow angle. It was a team goal that bore all the hallmarks of Germany’s mauling of Brazil in the World Cup, with Cox and Henderson’s superb vision picking out Mooney, who took his time to finish well. I cannot remember him being caught offside at any point either, so you may want to bookmark this historic occasion for posterity.

Dean Cox: More assists than tattoos
Give that man a medal… Dean Cox now has more assists than tattoos this season, which is impressive. While credit goes to Pritchard and Vincelot for their second half impressions of whippets chasing a rabbit, and Henderson for a complete centre-forward performance, Cox provided the continued vision and class to take the game away from Oldham, with the pass and cross assists for the first and third goals and ball into Henderson for the second, scored by Mooney.

Taxi for… Inspector Gadget or Hornblower as he became known, the Os fan who throughout the game abused a succession of instruments, from a high pitched horn, to lower-pitched horns to kazoos that you would find in a cracker to jingle bells, all of which were greeted with a warm reception of “Shut the fuck up, you’re giving me tinnitus."

Not so much a one man band, more how I imagine Sweep would sound if introduced face-first into a blender.

“Fuck the technical shit”...  Orient did a fantastic Jekyll and Hyde impression, with an ugly, disjointed first half and sublimely controlled second half. “What I asked them to do at ten to three, they didn’t do until after four o’clock” complained Russell Slade in the post-match interview.

Whatever Slade said at half-time, it clearly worked, as the team tightened up second half and Oldham didn’t get a clear shot on goal. Meanwhile a slightly delusional Lee Johnson felt Oldham weren’t ruthless enough: "That's what's frustrating, to know how to have a team on the ropes and then to kill them, punish them”. Er, Ok Lee, only everyone else saw a different game.

Meanwhile on Vine... A couple of fine Vines in contention this week. Everyone’s least favourite diving prima donna Ashley Young appeared to suffer the ignominy of a seagull deftly aiming its faeces into his mouth during Man Utd’s defeat to Swansea-surely a sign from the big man upstairs?

Meanwhile the winner goes to Martin Shaw for spotting a cracking Vine of a pitch invader at the West Ham v Spurs game who proceeded to run up and chip a freekick over the West Ham wall. The best part is the reaction from the West Ham wall who wondered if it had gone in, the Spurs player ruing the missed chance and the fat steward running after him Benny Hill style. Football gold, only made better by the result.

10 August 2014

GUEST BLOG! Leyton Orient 1 Chesterfield 2, 9/8/14

Who apart from every single Orient fan in the entire universe could have predicted we'd end up losing our first game of the season? Still, what do I care, I'm still in Berlin. Andy Brown, however, drew the short straw and was in attendance at Brisbane Road. Here's his view...

Expectations were this high
A game in which... Expectations were higher than Lindsey Lohan in a hot air balloon, given that our new Italian owner has pushed Orient’s annual wage bill from £20 and a packet of Twiglets to £50 billion in one summer.

So intense was the pressure on Russell Slade that Orient resorted to a Faustian pact with the dark Lords of the betting underworld in order to guarantee success. Instead, they ended up with a back four that looked like they’d met in the pub 20 minutes before kick-off.

Yup, this performance looked very much like a hangover from the play-offs, with an out-of-sorts back four, a midfield lacking creativity and forwards that looked blunt.

On the upside, it was the first game of the season, Legzdins, McAnuff and Henderson looked good and there’s a long way to go. So nobody is panicking yet, right?

Nathan Clarke in action
Jump off your seat moment… Nathan Clarke has been a pillar at the heart of the Orient defence so it was strange to see him outmuscled, outfought and frequently out of position all game. To cap off an out-of-sorts display, he opted to do his best LeBron James impression to twist and catch the ball as it was going over his head, preventing Chesterfield scoring. He was lucky to only get a yellow card.

Give that man a medal… Darius Henderson made the best Orient substitute appearance since Jonathan “KFC” Tehoue with the kind of physical performance that said “Fuck this, I’m going to let them know they’re in a game”. He scored a point blank rebound, something that Lisbie, Pritchard and others were incapable of doing at any other time during the game.

Taxi for… It was the first game and all that, but Orient’s defensive quartet (sounds more effete than back four, and they were) played with all the disciplined rigidity of an ice cream on a sun lounger (maybe forgiving Elliot Omozusi, who, despite having his pocket picked once, saved Orient a few times).

It’s early days, but suffice it to say it will be good to have Scott Cuthbert back in defence and the sooner the better. As for the others, hopefully this was the reminder they needed that the season started today.

“Fuck the technical shit”… “It wasn’t a bad performance but we need to improve in every area,” said the Riddler aka Russell Slade in a slightly bizarre and contradictory post-match interview. Plan A in the first half looked very much like last season, good passing and forward play, despite woeful finishing.

However, in the second half Plan B involved hoofing the ball high and long in the vain hope someone other than the Chesterfield centre halves would get to the ball first, which only changed when Henderson came on.

Not a vintage performance by any stretch, although McAnuff and Henderson showed promise in a tactical move that screamed “Shit, this lot are earning massive wages, I’d better get them on the pitch.”

Meanwhile on Twitter… Os fans waited all summer for a new shirt and sponsor, and when the deal with 666 Bet was finally revealed it presented an ideal opportunity for some amusing devil-related Photoshop tomfoolery. The Mirror picked up on the club’s rebranding as “Satan Orient” but it was Orient fan Lee who gets the plaudits this week for his superb re-imagining of Russell Slade as the Dark Lord with the new shirt.

08 August 2014

GUEST BLOG: "Money or not, this is still Orient"

At 3pm tomorrow a new era officially kicks off at Brisbane Road. Here Times and CNN journalist James Masters ponders what it all means for the team he's supported all his life...

100-year-old Os fan Leslie Richmond
meets Moses Odubajo 
At the sprightly age of 100, perhaps Leslie Richmond thought this chance would never come again.

Sitting in the chair of his care home in Ilford, Leslie could only sigh as he pondered another all too familiar chastening Orient experience.

It was in 1929 that he first flirted with Orient. On that fateful day, he arrived at Millfields Road to watch an FA Cup replay against Aston Villa with the two teams having drawn 0-0 in the original tie.

"That goalless draw was an excellent result," he said. "We brought them back to Brisbane Road and hoped for a good performance.... we lost 8-0."

Some 85 years might have passed since that day but not much has changed.

While such thrashings may be something of the past, the ability of Leyton Orient to wrestle failure from the jaws of success has long and often spectacularly been maintained.

In a phone call just days after the play-off final, Leslie pulled no punches while speaking about the latest heartache. "How they heck did they manage that," he asked incredulously. "How? How?"

I had no answer, nor did he. I was still struggling to get Chris Dagnall's penalty kick out of my head.

And yet it was the final part of the conversation which stuck with me. I'm not sure what I said to elicit such a response but I'm pretty sure I resigned myself to the fact that the dream was over and that what would transpire would be the end of the adventure.

"This is not the end... It is merely the beginning"
But with age comes wisdom and Leslie appears to have plenty in abundance. For no soon had I uttered such a foolish opinion, he moved to reassure me.

"The end you say? No, this is not the end," he said in a near whisper. "It is merely the beginning."

I was the Frodo to his Gandalf, the Harry Potter to his Dumbledore. Whatever he said, it made me feel young, naive and perhaps slightly silly.

Maybe Leslie had some inside knowledge or had been scrolling through Twitter, but he could not have been more correct if he had tried.

As I put the phone down, rumours of an impending takeover began to engulf Brisbane Road and the mention of a word so rarely heard in the local are was uttered – money.

And then it happened – gone was Barry Hearn, a man whose face had been synonymous with the club for as long as I could remember and in came a man which few had heard of and riches we'd never dared to dream of.

Francesco Becchetti
Francesco Becchetti, according to Hearn, has the money to not only take Leyton Orient into the Championship but his arrival should also strike fear into West Ham hearts.

But Hearn and those around him apart, few have any idea as to the intentions of Mr Becchetti.

The club has been quiet on the owner's plans since the press conference while at the time of writing, no sponsorship deals have been struck for the stadium naming rights nor the team's kit.

A new board has yet to be appointed and the new chief executive, replacing Matt Porter, who did a wonderful job in being the link between the club and its fans, started work only last week.

While Becchetti's future plans may not be clear, what is certain is that he retains a clear admiration for Slade as do those who have arrived in E10 since the Italian purchased the club.

But this is football and what counts are results. Should Slade make a slow start and Orient fail to be in the play off places by Christmas, then I would fear for him.

Last season it was Orient – the club which rose from the depths without paying as much as a single penny for a single player and somehow managing to muscle its way past its rivals only to fall at the final hurdle.

Now it has all changed. There is money. The wallet which appeared to have been lost has been found and while no transfer fees have been paid, wages have risen significantly.

With bigger wages comes bigger pressure and not just a financial one at that. There is now expectation that the likes of Henderson, Simpson and Lowry justify their earnings after signing deals with the club.

Simpson: pressure 
Whereas last season clubs would look at Orient and dismiss their achievements with such a small squad as 'lucky' or a 'fluke', they will now recognise the genuine quality and strength in depth the Os have at their disposal.

For manager Russell Slade this provides a a problem which he could scarcely ever have thought possible.

He will start the season with the strongest Orient squad the club has boasted in years.

Quality throughout, at least two good players in each position and without a single loanee in sight, this is a luxury Slade would never have dared to dream of. There can be no excuses.

Bristol City and Sheffield United apart, Orient possesses one of the most talented and exciting squads in League One and can no longer hide behind the facade of being the division's pauper.

It is a complete role reversal, a revolution, a change of quite epic proportions.

But money or not, this is still Orient. Where there is hope there is also fear, where there are dreams there are also nightmares. The pain of May still hurts, the image of Romain Vincelot beating the Wembley turf in frustration still lingers.

Romain Punch-The-Ground-A-Lot
The only good that can come of that defeat is to use that memory, that anguish, to inspire the next part of the story – the next chapter.

There is no reason why this year cannot be Orient's year – they will never be better equipped for the challenge.

It will be difficult, it will be testing but nothing worth having comes easily – all those who become part of the Orient family are all too aware of that.

Quite what Leslie makes of it all I'm not sure. We've not spoken since he imparted his wisdom upon me.

But if this is the beginning of something as he suggested, then I hope it's something special... and I hope Leslie starts his second century with an Orient-themed celebration come next May.

04 August 2014

A guide to Leyton Orient players on Twitter 2014/15

Do you ever wonder what goes on in a footballer's mind? No, of course you don't, because these days the contents of footballers' minds are sprayed onto Twitter in an indiscriminate stream of consciousness. Here I delve into the brains of Leyton Orient's top tweeters...  

Legzdins: "euphoric" 
Adam Legzdins @AdamLegzdins

What does Adam's Twitter feed tell us? That he likes David Brent, the weather and that if he didn't have the minor inconvenience of being a professional footballer he'd spend all summer wearing oversized sunglasses and gurning at the sunrise outside various Ibiza clubs. "Eric Prydz once again giving me that euphoric feeling" he wrote in July, presumably mashed off his head on Red Bull and plant food.

Key moment: "Selfies go against everything that teamhandsome stands for due to our understanding for such folk who aren't so facially blessed" tweeted Adam recently, with brazen disregard for the hundreds of selfies he'd already posted. The new Jimmy Smith? Absolutely not. Adam has a healthy sense of irony. Smith thought irony was a brand of bodybuilding supplements.

Battman: oily 
Shaun Batt @BATTman_14

What does Shaun's Twitter feed tell us? That between DJ-ing, being photographed in his pants and wearing socks/shorts combos to festivals it's a wonder he has time to fit in the 20 minutes of football he is afforded by Russell Slade each week.

Key moment: "I went and got extremely drunk as my season is now over what do you want me to do sit at home crying into my pillow??" wrote Shaun after the play-off final defeat - not unreasonably - while skulling his 48th Jäger-bomb.

Lloyd James @LloydJames23

What does Lloyd's Twitter feed tell us? That, when he's not "doing bantz" with his team mates over their golfing abilities, he's drooling with pleasure over the placement of power outlets: "Best thing in a hotel is when there is a plug socket nex to the bed!!" he tweeted ecstatically last year. Next: Lloyd weeps with joy when he discovers his fridge light turns off when he shuts the door.

Key moment: "Just wen it couldn't get worse" tweeted Lloyd two days after the play-off final, leading fans to assume that the club had not offered him a new contract. Luckily the Welshman put our minds at rest with this: "Sorry I should of made my tweet more Pacific it's not football related". Still, anyone who pulls him up on his grammatical error is just being Atlantic. Sorry, I mean pedantic.

Cuthbert: angry
Scott Cuthbert @ScottCuthbert15

What does Scott's Twitter feed tell us? That if you think the Scotsman is hard on the pitch, that's nothing compared to the stone-cold terror with which he reigns social media. "Could you keep all the 'love of my life' and 'love you so much baby' chat down to a minimum," he raged recently, "nearly thrown up in my wheetabix twice."

Key moment: During Children In Need last year Jamie Jones - with admirable intentions - said he'd donate £1 for every retweet he got. Minutes and multiple retweets later he backtracked and tweeted "£1,000 limit reached". Cuthbert was straight on his case, writing: "I will give @jamiejones1 £1 for every retweet this gets, poor guys skint" and then following it up seconds later with: "Sorry my £1 limit has been reached, thanks for the retweets." Lolz.

Marvin Bartley @dothebartman1

What does Marvin's Twitter feed tell us? That if you're interested in detailed regular traffic updates from the Reading area, then Marvin is the man to follow. "The workmen who left the traffic cones out on the A329 need their heads testing! #HugeCockUp" is the sort of thing you can expect. The fun never starts.

Key moment: "People who drive in the middle lane when no cars to their left seriously annoy me! #MostlyWomenDrivers lol" wrote Marvin in April, almost as if he was a struggling stand-up comedian from the 1970s.

Dean Cox @Dean_7Cox

What does Dean's Twitter feed tell us? Everything, pretty much, because Tiny is Orient's most prolific tweeter and a man unafraid to reveal the most intimate details of his life. Want to see a photo of Coxy mowing the lawn? You got it! How about Coxy having a massage? You got that too! What next, Coxy and his fiancee wearing matching animal-themed onesies? Yep, that too...

Key moment: "Walking round the house like I have shit myself this morning." Okay...

Mathieu Baudry @MathBaudry5

What does Mathieu's Twitter feed tell us? That the Frenchman is Orient's philospher-in-residence: "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up," he tweeted after the play-off final. A quote from Descartes? Sartre? Chumbawumba? No, American football coach Vince Lombardi actually. But Mathieu is certainly prone to his own moments of existential angst: "Football is shit sometimes" he mourned wistfully in April, presumably shortly after Robbie Simpson's loan deal was extended.

Key moment: "3days before miami!! Any tips of what to do or see there?" tweeted Mathieu earnestly before his American holiday last year. Fellow countryman Romain Vincelot had some blunt advice: "Please go there and stay there" to which Mathieu responded simply "haha u french twat". Touché.

28 June 2014

GUEST POST! The Italians are coming: A new dawn for Leyton Orient?

Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti is currently in talks to take over Leyton Orient by acquiring Barry Hearn’s stake in the club. Here Andy Brown runs the rule over our potential new owners…

Who is Francesco Becchetti?
Becchetti is a native of Rome, entrepreneur and CEO of BEG (Becchetti Energy Group), a multi-functional group that develops research in the field of renewable energy, processing waste (with energy objectives) and infrastructure for energy distribution. Word has it he's a billionaire.

What do we need to know about Becchetti Energy Group?

BEG (Becchetti Energy Group) is one of the leading Italian companies in the environmental field. Working in all stages of power production, this company's core business is in the production of renewable energy through the planning, production and managing of hydroelectric plants and systems for the collection and processing of urban waste, in Italy and abroad.

Any controversy? 
Not around Becchetti himself, though his uncle Manlio Cerroni - nicknamed Italy's "Trash King" - was arrested this year for trafficking waste materials.

What’s the connection between waste management and sport?
Supporting sport activities is part of BEG's DNA since its foundation, as demonstrated by the essential contribution to volleyball team Roma Volley's success.

BEG was the sponsor of the club which brought Roma to the top of the volley world in the Jubilee year, winning the championship and the CEV Cup in 2000, with Francesco Becchetti as the club's CEO. The Italian seemed keen to get on the ladder with a football club too, but an attempt to purchase Bologna fell through.

In March, according to Italian media, Becchetti undertook a trip to England with former Juventus and Roma director Gian Paolo Montali and former Siena and Catania coach Marco Giampaolo. He apparently visited with Reading, Birmingham and Leyton Orient.

What does all this mean for Orient?
It’s difficult to say what a takeover would mean for Orient. Certainly Becchetti is a very successful businessman, especially in the emerging markets of Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo around waste disposal and renewable energy.

He seems to have a passion for sport and a preferred management team, which leaves questions for Orient’s existing and very successful senior personnel. He has been keen to acquire a club, after also apparently also meeting with Reading and Birmingham earlier this year.

However, it’s unclear what Becchetti sees in Leyton Orient. Some would say exploiting the club’s potential and others would say a good foothold for a company in the UK that may be beneficial for his other business interests.

There are questions as to why attempts to buy Bologna fell through or why he decided against buying into Reading, but perhaps there are very good reasons.

One thought: if Becchetti truly is a billionaire, why has never made a play for Roma or Lazio? What is his game with Orient? Why England?

Ouch. That hurts.
Maybe details will emerge and he'll be a knight in shining armour for Leyton Orient. But then why let Moses Odubajo, our best young player, go? And Romain Vincelot (probably) too? Unless he plans to buy a bunch of Championship players?

I guess we'll find out in time, but I'm suspicious of non-homegrown benefactors, mainly because there is little reason for them to care about the club or community long term (see Cardiff, Hull, Birmingham).

That said, Barry Hearn has often stated his desire to walk away if the right buyer came on board, so it remains to be seen if both parties can agree, subject to FA approval. Should all things be agreed, uncertain times lie ahead following one of our most successful seasons in decades.
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