21 February 2015

Leyton Orient 3 Oldham Athletic 0, 21/2/15

Fabio Liverani
A game in which... Fabio Liverani ripped off his shirt, beat his chest and declared with a guttural, primal roar: "FUCK THE LOT OF YOU, I'M PLAYING WITH TWO WINGERS AND TWO LEFT-BACKS. WHAT YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?" Or maybe the manager was simply forced into selecting a team with a bit of width by virtue of Bradley Pritchard's injury.

Either way it worked, for this was a joyous return to the Orient of old: spirited, committed and energetic. It also demonstrated that we do actually have a talented group of players and if someone – Liverani? Donatelli? Nugent? Ada the kit man? – can get them to continue playing together as they did today we may still get out of this mess. 

Jump off your seat moment... The moment loanee goalkeeper Alex Cisak saved brilliantly from Jonathan Forte's penalty. If he puts in more fine performances like today's it might finally allow some closure for the Orient fans still heartbroken by the loss of our previous hero between the sticks. No, not Jamie Jones you bloody idiots, Eldin Jakupovic. *swoon* 

Jobi McAnuff marks his debut by wearing mascara
Give that man a medal... Any number of players could have been named man of the match today – Sawyer, Wright, Vincelot, Baudry or Cisak for starters – but let's instead celebrate a player making his Orient debut today: Jobi McAnuff. Yes, yes, the stats might tell you it was the winger's 25th appearance for the club, but it was the first time fans actually saw the player we thought we'd bought in the summer. 

Taxi for... Everyone played well, so let's just single out one moment involving the otherwise excellent Chris Dagnall. Put clean through on goal by Josh Wright, what would you expect the Liverpudlian language-mangler to do? a) Shoot b) Side-foot the ball to David Mooney who, instead of tapping it into an open net, elects to throw himself to the ground appealing for an imaginary foul, only to find he was 40 yards offside the whole time or c) back heel the ball 15 yards back up the pitch to a waiting Oldham defender. If you answered c, you're bonkers. But also correct. 

Liverani tinkers with today's formation
"Fuck the technical shit"... When today's team sheet was announced only those with a doctorate in applied mathematics could have figured out what formation that particular combination of 11 players could possibly line up in. Luckily Dean Cox put in a call to his old mucker Professor Jimmy Smith who advised "4-4-2 #LEGOOOOOO!" And so it was that Fabio Liverani inadvertently stumbled across a decent starting XI. (Albeit one that he will almost certainly ditch as soon as Bradley Pritchard is fit again.) 

Meanwhile on Twitter... This bizarre exchange between ex-England captains Will Carling and Michael Vaughan in which they discuss one-time Orient carthorse Colin West. (As discovered by Chas Portch.) What next, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga debating the relative merits of James Scowcroft? Stephen Fry and Barack Obama arguing over Adrian Patulea?

19 February 2015

Leyton Orient 0 Bradford City 2, 18/2/15

A game in which... Leyton Orient's players gave up defending for Lent. I'm joking of course – they actually gave up defending in August. Yep, after the false dawn of Saturday's victory over Chesterfield it was back to business as usual as a disorganised defence shipped their trademark two goals before half-time.

So that left the home side needing a miracle of Biblical proportions to overturn the deficit and I don't think even an omnipotent God has the power to defer victory on a team containing Bradley Pritchard and Marvin Bartley. Is there still hope of a resurrection? If Liverani is our saviour, I'm a devout unbeliever.

Jump off your seat moment... As a result of Fabio Liverani's innovative second-half tactic of "Just fucking lump it into the box and hope for the best, it's all I've got fellas" (translation courtesy of goalkeeping coach Rob Gagliardi) Orient did inadvertently force a couple of goal-mouth scrambles. Which was sort of mildly diverting in a similar way to observing someone struggle to keep their hat on in a strong wind, or watching a retarded puppy chasing its own tail. Which is something of a metaphor for... no, I can't even be bothered.

Give that man a medal... Various calls among Orient fans to make Marvin Bartley man of the match, which is a bit like awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to North Korea's Kim Jong-Un simply because he didn't happen to have anyone assassinated for 90 minutes on a Wednesday night. If it has to be someone, I'd give it to Omozusi.

Nathan Clarke had trouble against Hanson
Taxi for... Not the best night for Nathan Clarke who, due to a mistranslation of Fabio Liverani's instructions, was under the impression he was to be marking the 90s pop trio Hanson rather than the Bradford striker of the same name. Surely only this could explain why his performance hit such a low note?

"Fuck the technical shit"... Fabio Liverani continues to offer no evidence he has any idea what he's doing, which is perhaps to be expected given he has no experience, no track record and no knowledge of the league, the country, the players or the opposition. And what the hell is his aversion to Hedges? Did Liverani suffer some horrific gardening accident while practising topiary back in Italy? And why is he so reluctant to play with any width? The players were trying out there on the pitch, but it was quite clear that the team selection, the tactics (or lack of), the organisation and the communication weren't right. Still, he's good at waving his arms about, so every cloud...

Meanwhile on Twitter... Nice work from the E10 Mess crew who created a series of Orient-themed Valentine's Day cards earlier this week. My personal favourite was this Gianvito Plasmati-inspired one which I intended to give to my wife, but found myself strangely rooted to the spot while she breezed past me, then I twisted my ankle as I reluctantly began to trudge after her. Coincidence? I think not.

15 February 2015

GUEST POST! Chesterfield 2 Leyton Orient 3, 15/2/15

Guest blogger Andy Brown has spent most of this season trawling round bleak northern towns watching Orient lose away from home. God knows the guy is due some luck, and he duly got it at Chesterfield. Here's Andy's take on the Os' spectacular win... 

A game which… looked like it would be as painful as a prolonged BDSM session with Christian Grey. But rather than read the script and bow out tamely, Orient embraced the spirit of lurve on Valentine’s Day and spread it among the 285 hardy souls that travelled to deepest, darkest Derbyshire in what has been a very one-way relationship this season.

Yup, with seemingly endless months of negativity about the malaise at Orient, reinforced by desperate performances on the pitch, this game had everything previous games lacked: persistence, positivity and, most of all, spirit. After going down twice, the Os came back twice and snatched a winner deep into injury time: 50 shades of last season rather than this one.

Chesterfield goalkeeper Tommy Lee
Jump off your seat moment… Despite being met with howls of derision at his substitution for Josh Wright, it was that twinkle-toed football genius Marvin Bartley’s cross that resulted in a mistimed punch from Tommy Lee, 11 minutes into injury time, and a toe poke home from Dean Cox to send the away fans into delirium. Granted, he often looks confused with a ball at his feet, but this event probably needs a T-shirt. Expect to see Liverani play Bartley on the wing against Bradford now.

Give that man a medal… A tie between David Mooney and Dean Cox. Both players never stopped working and showed flashes of class (the former a few moments of ineptitude as well) that typified Orient’s determination not to lose today. A class finish from Mooney for the second of his two goals, and winner for Cox, this was more like the performances we were used to seeing last year. And not an overpaid Italian in sight!

Taxi for… Elliot Omozusi. Where to start? Mistimed two-yard passes going straight out of play, simple balls going straight through his legs, and one of the most bizarre own goals I have ever seen that put Orient 2-1 down. Not a good day at the office, although he improved after his own goal. His counterpart Sawyer played a more solid game on the other side. Now to get both full backs and centre backs playing well together…

“Fuck the technical shit” With Fabio Liverani’s apparent desire to see every facet of Orient’s play go through Bradley Pritchard, it was surprising to see other players involved today… not that the players can understand the team talks anyway. It’s hard to know what to make of the frantically gesticulating Italian. He obviously seems to care, but from wanting to bin 11 players one game to being proud of them the next, he is somewhat schizophrenic in his assessment of performances.  

Meanwhile on Twitter… It’s been hard to miss the circus at Orient over the course of the season. So what’s the best way to advertise the goings in at the club? With a circus poster of course! This was created by Os fan Keith Williams. Respect, sir. 

13 February 2015

GUEST POST! Divided we fall

Keen observers of Leyton Orient Football Club may have noticed that things aren't as rosy as they could be of late. In this guest post, the Whipps Cross Weekly podcast crew investigate why... 

When trying to process the unbridled horror that has been Leyton Orient’s 2014/15 season and figure out why, oh Lord why, this has all happened to us, many LOFC fans have tended to settle on laying the blame with the Italian-speaking contingent of the club’s management hierarchy. 

Francesco Becchetti gets his priorities straight
Owner Francesco Becchetti, chief executive Alessandro Angelieri, former director of football Mauro Milanese and more latterly the head coach Fabio Liverani have in most cases been lumped together collective, referred to under the banner of ‘the Italians’. 

They have been seen as unified force of incompetents drawn together through the power of cronyism, one which has both wreaked extensive harm on the club on and off the pitch.

They’ve tarnished Orient’s public image while demonstrating as much understanding of League One football as we have of how to compose a punchy, enjoyable blog post. 

Incompetents? Demonstrably. Unified? It really doesn’t appear so. That’s what is perhaps the most worrying thing, and could explain why we’ve fallen so very far, so very quickly.

It seems more likely that the camp at the top is more internally split than some might believe – the whole notion of an Italian ‘regime’ seems misguided, as in reality, the key figures at the club all seem to have spent the season vying to push the club in different directions.

Mauro Milanese
The key piece of evidence that supports this ‘king’s court’ theory was the departure of Mauro Milanese last month, for reasons that Liverani insists were personal rather than ‘technical’ or related to transfer and selection policy. 

After serving an ill-fated stint as manager of the side at the end of 2014 before returning straight back to his old director of football position, it was easy to get the impression that Milanese was merely a willing tool of the regime – a puppet to be shifted around between roles at Becchetti’s convenience. 

However, the weaknesses in this theory had begun to show long before Milanese’s January departure. In prior interviews and Q&A sessions with fans, Milanese had made the case across for a number of interesting and sound policies, particularly around player roles and reliance on the club’s academy to produce first-team talent. 

He outlined specific ideas that seemed eminently sensible, such as loaning out young forward Scott Kashket to a lower level rather than wasting him on the first-team bench. In practice, however, more or less none of these things actually happened. 

Why? Is it because Milanese was a slipperier customer than he might have appeared, able to play to the gallery whilst sticking to the agenda of his superiors? Perhaps, but his fallout with Becchetti seems difficult to comprehend if this truly was the case.

Alessandro Angelieri
The same can be said of Angelieri, who also seems to make noises around ambitions and preservation of club identity whenever a journo puts a mic in front of him that sound great but rarely match up to the reality of the situation.

Could it be that he too is merely a sweet-talking mouthpiece of the regime, or is he a man with the right ideas but no actual apparatus for getting them put into action?

Then there’s Liverani. In most people’s eyes, Furious Fabio may not be the right man to drive the club forward to bigger and better things, but he seems to have been hindered by not being able to construct his own squad.

Why are new players arriving at the club every few weeks who he clearly hasn’t requested and has no idea how to use, such as Ryan Hedges and Neil Eardley? 

Fabio Liverani
The signings themselves have been mixed: most of us have been impressed by Hedges and don’t understand why Liverani doesn’t use him more, while Eardley has already left.

The point is that the communication between Liverani and his employers seems bizarrely remote if we assume that he was brought in as another crony. 

The impression that we get from following the never-dull affairs at LOFC is that there is no coherent ‘gang’ at the helm of the club, steering it as one closer and closer to the whirlpool of relegation.

Instead, the house seems much more divided; it is entirely possible that positive strategies and ideas are emerging from within the club’s hierarchy, but wither on the vine because the structure or the will isn’t there to implement them. 

Perhaps this is a product of Wolf Hall-style infighting on the part of those orbiting around Becchetti- or possibly, it’s all because the big man himself just doesn’t listen to those around him.

Whatever the truth of the situation is, we’d hazard a guess that if the hierarchy had actually spent the season pulling together in the same direction, we might have ended in a mess slightly less deep than we currently find ourselves in.

11 February 2015

Leyton Orient 0 Notts County 1, 10/2/15

A game in which... Orient played like a ship without a rudder. Or an engine. Or an anchor. Or a captain. Or a crew. Or a map. Or a radio. Or a lifeboat... Obviously I could go on listing essential components of hazard-free sailing, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that this a club that is all at sea.

Or to put it non-nautically, this performance – or total lack of one – was evidence not only of certain relegation, but a deep, deep malaise running through every aspect of this football club. Now would be an appropriate time to make some sort of comparison between Orient and the Titanic, but I think that might be unfair on the Titanic.

Jump off your seat moment... The Orient fans were on their feet tonight for sure, but only to sing a vociferous rendition of "You don't know what you're doing" at Fabio Liverani for his bewildering substitution of Chris Dagnall. The Scouse striker was at least looking industrious – albeit in the manner of a barely-functioning steel works in a long-forgotten northern town.

Just think, Josh, you could have been
doing this instead... 
Give that man a medal... How Josh Wright must be ruing the day he told the producers of The Only Way Is Essex that he'd rather pursue his career as a professional footballer than join his brother and sister on the set of everyone's sixth-favourite ITV2 show. Don't get me wrong, Wright still played appallingly, just not quite as appallingly as everyone else.

Taxi for... Romain Vincelot had his worst game in an Orient shirt, so was inevitably awarded man of the match by today's sponsors in what's becoming a regular injection of deep, dark satire into each game. Everyone else was equally as shit but they can't all fit in a taxi, so let's instead call one for Fabio Liverani who – if we're lucky – might end up accidentally requesting a fare to Rome while stumbling through his English phrasebook.

"Fuck the technical shit..." Let's leave aside Fabio Liverani's bat-shit mental team selection, formation, tactics and substitutions for the moment, and focus on the fact that he spent the entire first half doing nothing but repeatedly urging Bradley Pritchard to move slightly to the left or right. Nothing else. Just that. I might point out that moving Bradley Pritchard anywhere other than outside of the stadium is unlikely to have a discernible effect on the team's fortunes, but more importantly it is now crystal clear that Liverani has zero chance of turning this round. Zero.

Meanwhile on BBC London... Francisco Becchetti speaks! Just when you thought the Grand Almighty Supreme Overlord-in-Chief of Leyton Orient (I'm contractually-obliged to use his official title) was too busy firing English-speaking staff and making hilarious videos to deign us with his presence, Franny pops up on the radio. And he has some good news for fans! Never mind about all the losing and the impending relegation and the ripping the soul out of the club stuff – you're always moaning about something you lot, lolz! – because according to Mr Becchetti a couple of young people in Italy asked him for Orient shirts. Every cloud...

01 February 2015

Leyton Orient 1 Scunthorpe United 4, 31/1/15

A game which... demonstrated that something is rotten in the state of Orient. Yes, prepare yourself for a load of Hamlet references because our club is currently gripped by a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Manager meltdowns, subterfuge, whistleblowing, impropriety... we've got it all.

And somewhere in the middle of all that a football match broke out. Or at least it did for the 11 surprised Scunthorpe players who found themselves able to run around the pitch freely and score at will. Orient, meanwhile, were "a team without guts, without heart, without courage" according to Fabio Liverani. And while his assessment was correct, you wouldn't blame the players for responding "Yeah, and without any fucking tactics either, gaffer."

Jump off your seat moment... The moment Gianvito Plasmati's brain sent an electrical signal to his foot instructing it to shoot from 50 yards out. Who knows, the 6ft 6in Italian may have an impressive knowledge of Federico Fellini films, be able to tell his Sangiovese from his Sagrantino, or be a gentle and generous lover, but a footballer he ain't. Need I bother telling you his 50-yard shot bobbled apologetically towards the corner flag? Need I bother pointing out that that is a fitting metaphor for Orient's entire season?

Darius Henderson
Give that man a medal... I'm tempted to give a medal to PA Phillip Othen for actually having the audacity to announce an Orient man of the match. But let's be extremely generous and say that when Darius Henderson came on for the second half he at least put himself about a bit, albeit in the manner of a malfunctioning bulldozer that by the law of averages manages to go in the right direction once in every 27 minutes.

Taxi for... The whole team, according to Fabio Liverani, who claimed he needs 11 new players. But let me for the sake of making a stupid analogy to brain surgery single out Bradley Pritchard. Now, the former Charlton man works hard, for sure – but if I decided to try my hand at brain surgery tomorrow and put a real shift in, I doubt anyone would be congratulating me on the ensuing bloodbath. Or to put it another way: Pritch is just too lightweight and too limited for League One. And what the hell was Liverani doing playing him right midfield when we had a Premier League winger on the bench anyway?

"Fuck the technical shit..." Should we sympathise with Fabio Liverani for being given the poisoned chalice of Leyton Orient management? Or should we suggest that despite the accuracy of his post-match comments he might have better saved them for the dressing room if he wanted to retain even a shred of hope of motivating and gelling the team? Probably both, but for the moment let me point out that from my West Stand vantage point just behind the home dug out it is 100 per cent clear that the players do not understand a word of what Liverani is instructing them to do. Indeed, they tend to receive the information wearing the sort of bewildered, terrified expressions usually seen on the faces of girls being chatted up by Jimmy Smith.

Meanwhile on YouTube... "We scratched the bottom," said Fabio Liverani on Saturday. Well, on Sunday we took to it with an industrial chainsaw with the release of this video of lip-synching Italians, which is quite possibly the low point of the club in its entire 134-year history. Watch it and weep that it has come to this...

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