25 October 2017

Leyton Orient 0 Gateshead FC 2, 24/10/17

Imagine a team assembled by Paul Brush, coached by Fabio Liverani, motivated by Alberto Cavasin and given tactical instruction by a packet of cheese and onion crisps. That team would've made swift work of the Orient side that lost 2-0 at home to Gateshead tonight. 

Now, Orient have certainly suffered bigger defeats in the past and, by God, there were some calamitous performances in the Becchetti days. But in the context of a bottom-of-the-National League clash against a side who haven't won in six, and who haven't won away all season, tonight's loss could be considered the ultimate nadir of a football club whose entire history is a nadir in itself.

But anyway, don't listen to me, listen to Steve Davis. Here's what the "manager" had to say about how tonight's catastrophe unfolded:

"I have to hold my hand up. The system didn't work and I needed to change that." 

Ok. The "system" – let's call it that, shall we? – Davis began the game with was the 5-3-2 that has served him so well in the previous four or five games in that we haven't lost every single one of them. Fifteen minutes – and one goal down – later and the manager ditched that in favour of playing our top-scoring striker wide out on the left; our non-scoring striker in the middle; one of the two right backs on the wing; and our two wingers in central midfield.

Somehow that didn't work, so via a couple of other short-lived, transitional formations, Davis eventually opted for a trusty 4-4-2, with our right back at left back; and three wingers across the midfield four. By the end of the game I think we were playing 3-2-5-2-4 or something, but by then I'd lost the will to live.

Now, you could say that this constant tinkering demonstrates that Davis has an astute, nimble football brain. But if you did say that you'd be sectioned.

"It was a very scrappy match." 

Thing is, by calling the game "scrappy", Steve, you're sort of implying that both teams were complicit in a less-than-pedigree spectacle. This is bullshit. Gateshead were efficient enough. Conversely, each Orient player reacted as if every single nightmare in their life had been visually illustrated on the ball such that they became rigid with terror every time it span towards them.

"The way we reacted after the second goal was very disappointing. We just gave up." 

I dunno, it looked to me like Orient had given up shortly after kick off, Steve. Or perhaps on the way to the game. Or perhaps after you slagged off the whole team after Saturday's defeat. Or perhaps when you were appointed manager in the first place.

"Dave's miss was a real turning point." 

This could be true, in the sense that it could bring an abrupt end to the whole Football's Funniest Bloopers genre. I mean, no future compilation of howlers could ever compete with just looping Mooney's miss over and over again. As a turning point in the game: less so, in that "turning points' usually infer that something has changed from before to after.  In this case, Orient were equally abysmal either side of it.

"That was the poorest home performance we've had."

Add ".... in the entire history of the club" and you may have hit the nail on the head there Steve.

"We were second best straight away." 

That is very flattering, as there were blades of grass, small insects and discarded globules of player mucus out on the pitch that could well lay claim to being better than Orient tonight.

"The young players are finding the pressure difficult to deal with."

Oh yeah, it's definitely all their fault isn't it? If anything the young players have been the ones showing the most resilience and grit, while seasoned professionals (such as Ellis and MacAnuff tonight, for example) have been woeful. Next.

"I know I'm the right person to turn this around." 

There really is precious little evidence to support this, is there? No one wants to return to the trigger-happy days of the Becchetti regime where gaffers were fired for having the wrong socks, or playing Scott Kashket. But then again there's nothing "stable" about persisting with a demonstrably inept manager with a penchant for blaming everyone but himself for the unfolding disaster.

You can't blame Davis for individual player mistakes, and no one really expected us to get promoted this season. But this group of players should be doing much better than they currently are and the visceral lack of understanding between them on the pitch; the apparent lack of team spirit and fight; the absence of any discernible plan; and the bizarre press conferences don't exactly support the idea that in Davis we've got the right man to take the club forward. (Here) we go again...
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