Step 1: Massively over-promise
|"I'm already visioning a Championship club"|
Step 2: Install a sporting director
Russell Slade, remember, had just built a tight-knit squad that got within a penalty kick of the Championship without paying a single transfer fee. Did he really need additional help in identifying and bringing in players? Let alone help from someone with no experience of the English game other than two seasons as a QPR player many years ago. Someone with no experience of the lower league transfer market. And someone with no experience of looking at his hair in a mirror and thinking, "Something is terribly, terribly wrong here."
Now, you might think that to be appointed a CEO of a football club you need some experience of being a CEO or some experience of football. Preferably both. You're wrong, because Alessandro Anglieri waltzed into the hot seat having allegedly never attended a single match in his life and with the professional experience of 17 years as a senior sales manager at a video systems provider. SEVENTEEN YEARS IN THE SAME JOB WITHOUT A SINGLE PROMOTION! So essentially instead of a visionary and ambitious leader, Francesco Becchetti hired Gareth Keenan from The Office.
Step 4: Issue an ultimatum to Orient's most successful manager in decades
Admittedly Russell Slade's start to the season wasn't brilliant – one win, three draws and two losses in the first six league matches – but aside from 2013/14 that was pretty standard for the manager. Not good enough for Francesco Becchetti, however, who told Slade that he was for the chop should he not provide "redemption" in his next match. What staggering stupidity. "Parents often threaten to spank their children but usually do not carry out the threat," Becchetti subsequently explained, suggesting that a) he likes throwing his weight around, b) he knows little about how to motivate a football manager and c) that you probably shouldn't ask him to babysit for you.
Step 5: Enforce an omertà
|The Orient comms team take their vow of silence|
There's nothing wrong per se with creating an Italian reality TV show around the club, as long as you don't mind it making Orient the laughing stock of the football world. It's just a bit of fun, hey, and who doesn't like to watch videos of random Italian model-types lip-synching to bad songs in their pants? (1,981 views and counting!) But it's not just a bit of fun if – as this article suggests – the squad were refused increased win bonuses unless they consented to being filmed. And it's even less fun if the appointment of a manager with no experience of English football or English language was partly informed by the need to have a high-profile name attached to the club that the Italian TV audience could identify with. (I wrote about this at length here.)
Step 7: Appoint a manager on a wing and a prayer
Let's be generous and pretend that the appointment of Fabio Liverani was done for 100 per cent footballing reasons and was in no way related to the reality TV show. The question, then, must be: what in God's name were those football reasons? Here's my theory: Francesco Becchetti didn't just want success, he wanted success he could call his own. So not for him a manager who'd already achieved results in lower league English football. No, he wanted someone he could claim to have discovered, to have nurtured, to have given a platform for glory. He wanted to be Brian Epstein discovering the Beatles. Instead he's ended up being Tim Byrne, the man who brought the world Steps.
|Ada: Survived the cull|
When Francesco Becchetti took over Orient, he said he'd be relying on the ongoing support of those that had made the club what it is. He was true to his word for about three or four minutes before – in the manner of an international property developer promising to preserve the spirt of a community pub then immediately knocking it down to build a block of luxury apartments – getting rid of everyone from the fitness coach to the cook. Ada the kit man reportedly only survived by hiding in Alessandro Angelieri's in-tray, where he remains undetected to this day. Matt Porter's advisory role was soon curtailed too. Nothing wrong in principle with the new owner bringing in his own people. Unless of course they monumentally fuck up, which brings me neatly to...
Step 9: Don't actually pay the players
Most footballers, I'm sure, like what they do. But I'm also pretty sure they also like eating food, wearing clothes, paying their mortgage and going to Faces nightclub, Gants Hill. All of these things require money, which means they're going to pretty upset if their employers don't pay them. Astoundingly, in February, a "technical problem" meant that the Orient squad did not receive their wages on time. Sure, the players haven't covered themselves in glory this season either, but to deny them their basic employment rights seems a bit harsh.
|Stuck in traffic|
If one of the employees in Francesco Becchetti's waste management business is slightly late for work due to a major traffic accident, does he publicly humiliate them over the tannoy system? Of course he doesn't. He actually has them killed. JOKE! Stand down lawyers! Except, when Darius Henderson failed to arrive on time for the game against Port Vale for reasons entirely out of his control, Becchetti did exactly that, instructing PA Philip Othen to read out a message expressing his displeasure. A touch of class right up there with the ball skills of Sam Parkin or the humour of George Porter.
Step 11: Allegedly forget to file your accounts
At time of writing, the club are currently refusing to comment on the story that they are under a transfer embargo for failing to file their accounts on time. If this is true then this is mismanagement on a monumental scale. Or maybe I'm overreacting. I mean, it's not like we actually need to buy or sell any players this summer is it? Oh, hang on...
So there you have it. Brink of Championship to League Two in 11 easy steps courtesy of Francesco Becchetti. Still, don't be too upset, because the president has an answer: just refuse to allow the players to go on holiday at the end of the season and make them do a fortnight of double training. Then sell the club.