29 August 2021

Leyton Orient 2 Bradford City 0, 28/8/21

A game in which... Jacketball returned to E10! What is "Jacketball" you may ask, other than the term used by the official club Twitter feed whenever they stumble across a clip that features Orient completing more than two consecutive passes? Well, on this evidence it seems Jacketball is the new tactical innovation of lumping the ball towards a big striker and hoping for the best. And before you scoff, you think that's easy? Well a) it didn't work against Harrogate. And b) this was a performance full of energy, bite and control. A joy to watch. 

Moment of madness... Ruel Sotiriou's goal and the scenes of absolute shithousery that followed. The strike itself was a geometric marvel – blasted in from an angle so acute that today mathematicians across the world are frantically trying to rewrite the rules of trigonometry. The striker then ran the full width of the pitch to knee-slide in front of the away fans, a handful of whom had booed the South Stand's Justin Edinburgh chant. Watch this clip closely and you'll see a couple of Poundland Tony Montanas from the Bradford faithful swagger to the front to voice their displeasure and throw lighters... And kudos to Harry Smith for sparking up the fag he keeps slipped into his sock with one them.

Praise be... Difficult one because every Orient player was a titan today, but let's firstly talk about Hector Kyprianou who controlled the midfield today with rangy brilliance – like a Matthew Spring who can pass forward, perhaps, or a Jimmy Smith with a brain. And to Shadrach Ogie who until five minutes before the game was looking forward to 90 minutes of sitting on the bench picking his nose and surreptitiously checking TikTok on his phone. But he then put in a defensive performance so intimidating that the people of Bradford – from Gareth Gates to Kimberley from Girls Aloud – will be having nightmares for years to come. 

Let's talk about... Harry Smith. Only Leyton Orient could sign a 6ft 7in forward who can't actually head the ball. And remember, Martin Ling had actually been searching for a "big striker" since the summer of 2008 when the then manager tried to convince us that 5ft 11in Ryan Jarvis could do the job. Smith, then, doesn't so much have a head like a 50p piece, but a head like thousands of 50p pieces welded together into a jagged globe by a radical artist with the express purpose of illustrating the concept of "chaos". Or "shame" – as when he somehow managed to ricochet an absolute sitter onto the crossbar from six yards. That said, Smith's now scored two goals in three games, so I'm all for the non-heading lummock. 

In the dug out... It's taken only six games, but after the catastrophic defeat by Harrogate Town manager Kenny Jackett has reverted to the well-worn and archaic Orient formation of 4-4-2 with a central midfielder on the right wing, in this case Craig Clay. This, of course, is a ploy used by countless previous Os managers such as Russell Slade (with Jimmy Smith on the right); Fabio Liverani (Bradley Pritchard); and of course Alberto Cavasin, who somehow played Ada the kit man in that spot for one game after his pre-match instructions were lost in translation.  

Dove sono adesso? Or "Where are they now?" in English, a new series in which I investigate the whereabouts of some of the key figures from the Becchetti era. First up: translator/goalkeeping coach/head of recruitment Rob Gagliardi who, given his searing Italian good looks, you would assume had moved into a career in either catalogue modelling or porn, right? Wrong: Rob is currently Head of European Scouting at actual football club Portsmouth, who unrelatedly have recently signed a 56-year-old Albanian left back, the striker from a Faroe Islands fisherman team and Zan Benedicic. 

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