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
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