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.
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