14 June 2018

School Report: Leyton Orient 2017/18

Just because the season ended ages ago and it's the World Cup, doesn't mean there isn't time to run the rule over Leyton Orient's class of 2017/18... 

Steve Davis 
“A total lack of aptitude in all areas. Expelled.”
“We searched high and low, applied rigorous criteria and left no stone unturned in our search for the ideal manager of Leyton Orient – and Steve Davis is that man” said director of football Martin Ling in the summer of 2017, shortly before hiring a colour-blind decorator to repaint his house and asking a block of concrete to teach him to pole vault. Turned out there was good reason Davis was the only manager available in mid-July for thus began the most eye-bleedingly catastrophic tenure of the Orient dug out since, well, the season before. At least Alberto Cavasin had the excuse he couldn’t speak English and Fabio Liverani that he was clinically insane. What was Davis’s get out clause? I’ll tell you: it was all the players’ fault. Yet unlike the equally hapless Ian Hendon (also all the players’ fault) he didn’t have Connor Essam in the team to substantiate it. Next.

Macauley Bonne 
“Top of the class”
There have been countless barren years in which Orient fans dreamed of a hard-working striker with both skill and physical presence – a selfless team player who’d lead the line and bang in 20+ goals a season. We got one of those this year in Macauley Bonne, yet for some it wasn’t enough. “HE MISSES TOO MANY CHANCES” they yelled, apoplectic with rage at the sight of a National League striker not converting 100% of his goal attempts. Me? I’m off to smoke an extremely expensive Cuban cigar in honour of Bonne’s season. Although if it doesn’t light first time it’s going straight in the fucking bin, that’s for sure.

Dean Brill
“Vocal. Momentary lapses in attention. Good eater.”
“Hey Deano. Neither Charlie or Sam are quite cutting it in goal. What do you suggest?”
“Well, funny you should say that…”

It’s not often that the goalkeeping coach becomes the goalkeeper, but then again it’s not often that a man can eat his own weight in cheesecake and survive, yet Dean Brill has achieved both. I mean, fair play to the lad, he was pretty adept at beach-whaling himself in front of goal-bound shots and plummeting himself at the feet of opposition strikers. He also couldn’t keep his mouth shut – useful both for berating Joe Widdowson and ensuring that any airborne sources of nutrition found their way into his stomach. 

Jake Caprice
Fast worker, but error-ridden”
I have to confess, I quite liked Caprice for the first part of the season, if only because he was the one Orient player who you’d fancy beating a critically-wounded sloth in a race. He got forward well, got a half-decent cross in and could create space with a sharp change in a direction that, while identical from match to match, benefitted from the fact National League defenders don’t get to watch video reports on their opponents. What I failed to notice until later in the season was the bloodcurdling trail of destruction he was leaving behind him in his own half, as left wingers marauded through the vast open spaces Caprice had left unguarded, picking off goals at will. Thankfully Justin Edinburgh thought to himself: “The one thing we definitely don’t need in this team is pace” and put Caprice out of his misery for the remainder of the season. 

David Mooney
Inspirational, yet mostly ineffective”
Oh Moons. I wouldn’t say a bad word about the man who almost propelled us to the Championship if only he hadn’t changed his priorities midway through the season from promotion to “scoring with a lob”. But this story has a fitting denouement for after Orient had typically blown a 3-goal lead against Dover Athletic, Moons’ four-year mission to successfully chip the keeper finally came to pass. Aside from that sublime moment, not much else happened for the Irishman this season other than the usual conveyor belt of offsides, dives and misses. Still love him though.

George Elokobi
“Big character”
You might think that it would take an industrial-standard hydraulic system to raise someone of George Elokobi’s stature off of the ground. You’d be wrong, as evidenced by the bicycle-kicked goal the defender scored against Aldershot and his numerous less successful attempts to repeat the trick. For those who were there on this momentous occasion it was like watching if not poetry in motion, at least a limerick or the sort of senseless rhymes you make up as a six-year old. George is a talisman, a leader and quite frankly I would still have him in the Orient team even if he literally could not kick a ball to save his life. He wouldn’t be the first after all.

Ebou Adams
“Must stick at things for longer”
What a tidy little player Ebou Adams proved to be in his loan spell. Always hungry for the ball, strong in tackle, careful in possession, penetrating in delivery. Scored the best goal of the season too. Still, it was obvious to fans that we’d be hard pushed to keep such a talent at Orient into 2018/19 – this young man was destined for bigger and better things. So it came as no surprise when he signed for, hang on… EBBSFLEET UNITED! Kill me now. 

Jobi McAnuff 
“Wise head on old shoulders”
What’s the difference between Jobi McAnuff’s second spell at Orient to his first? More tackles in the second spell for starters – one compared to none. But that’s not why we pay to see Jobi McAnuff is it? We pay to see the winger use both his Premier League and international experience to dominate games, destroy defences, score wonder goals from distance. And he definitely did do all those things last season, although admittedly most of them were in the same game.
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