19 April 2015

How has it come to this?

Let's not begin the full post-mortem just yet. After all, there is still a mathematical chance that Orient can get the four or possibly six points from their last three games that'd keep them safe from relegation.

But I think it's fair to say that if they do – and that's an "if" written in sky-high letters – it will be in spite of, rather than because of the current manager.

Now, I don't want to attack Fabio Liverani personally. He seems a decent guy, and I'm sure he's trying as hard as he can to do a good job. But what is evidently clear to anyone with eyes and a brain, is that he is wholly ill-equipped to be managing an English League One football club in imminent danger of relegation. He always was.

So why was he here in the first place? Because of Francesco Becchetti's arrogance, naivety and commercial interests. Let me explain.


Look at the breezy confidence of our president in this TV interview back in February. Sure, by then he's realised that all the money he's pumped into the club isn't going to get Orient promoted in season one, but he seems to be operating on the arrogant assumption that we couldn't possibly get relegated.

And surely that's why he felt comfortable enough to appoint someone with no experience of English – let alone League One – football, no command of the English language, and a managerial career spanning six games. "It's a new era, things take a little time," he explained and was presumably happy by then for Liverani to learn on the job, finish mid-table and then push on for promotion next season.


The vast majority of football managers are ex-players and they all have to start somewhere. But there can't be many examples of ex-players starting their managerial career fighting a relegation battle in a league, country and language they have no experience of and making a success of it. So Becchetti's decision to place all his faith in the untested Fabio Liverani was a either a breathtaking gamble or staggering naivety. I'm going for the latter.

Commercial interests

Francesco Becchetti's TV channel is important to him. Nothing wrong with that – Barry Hearn had plenty of other commercial interests while owning the club. But the premise of the Leyton Orient reality show on Agon channel is that aspiring footballers from Italy get the chance to compete for a contract with a "prestigious" club (Becchetti's word, not mine.)

And there's nothing particularly "prestigious" about a club fighting relegation from the third tier. However, attach a high-profile ex-Italy international to the club and suddenly it seems a little more attractive to a TV audience. So I am being cynical in suggesting that the appointment of Liverani wasn't done for 100 per cent footballing reasons?

So what now? 

Are we going to get out of this? If so, it's going to be down to the players. And I still love those players. Sure, they have to accept some of the blame for this, but God knows they're not deliberately trying to get us relegated.

The truth is, you can't just chuck your 11 best players on the pitch and hope for the best. They need organisation, motivation, tactics, instructions, insight, plans...

I sit behind Fabio Liverani for home matches and see nothing much more than an obsessive devotion to micro-managing the position of a bewildered Ryan Hedges when we're defending set pieces. The manager is totally and utterly out of his depth.

So, with three games to go, I say this to the Orient squad: play for yourselves, play for the fans, play for that Somme badge on your shirt. Because only you can save us now...


  1. Couldn't have said it any better myself.

  2. Excellent article which makes a lot of sense, BUT, BUT, BUT

    Becchetti owns the majority of the shares of LOFC, and in accordance with English company law, LOFC is effectively his do with as he likes or his naivety allows him to do, with supporters in fact merely being spectators.

    If supporters do not like that, there are two options, become an owner or initiate a change in the law.

    Both options involve collaboration and organisation. Fans were at times rightly critical also of Hearn BUT preferred to remain spectators. Such a lack of engagement and refusal to seek greater responsibility could result in LOFC slipping out of the Football League or, worse still, out of existence!

  3. Beggars belief in appointing an inexperienced foreign manager when all we needed was stability and continuity.

  4. Great article, and generally heartbreaking. This time last year etc...

  5. Great Piece - I mentioned a month a ago we should have appointed Paulo Di Canio - I still feel he would have got out of trouble but too many on the fans forum called him a racist etc etc. Now I have no interest in his political views I just want him to get us out this mess- think I will be proved right as we get relegated !!! Liverani -out of his depth and thats a shame he seems a decent bloke- but decent wont work- we need aggression hard work and go out there and get 'em- which PDC would ahve done- sad very sad

  6. Great article as always but I don't entirely agree with all of it. Of course Liverani was the wrong man to get the job, any O's fan would agree with that. Logic has been out of the window all season. Saying that, Liverani is a football man and there are a few examples of foreign managers coming in blind and doing OK (Hasselbaink at Burton, Pouchino at Southampton etc).
    My beef is with the players. They haven't performed for Slade, Nugent or Milanese this season either. They keep making the same old mistakes week in week out and key performers have gone missing all season (Dagnall excepted from that). Every player bust a gut for Slade last season but there has been little evidence of the same attitude and application this year.
    You go to an O's game, look at the team selected and think we'll do OK and invariably end up disappointed.
    I'm hoping that Liverani has the chance to bring in his own team and players rather that the current lot who by and large were Slade's signings.
    There has been lots wrong at Orient this season. The biggest one wrong of all has been the players letting us down IMO. Up the O's

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