Justin Edinburgh. One year on…

Posted: December 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

justin

The O’s boss has just celebrated a year in charge at the club. The stripester  takes a look back over a twelve month period  that has seen the club turned around in spectacular fashion.

 Usually, we don’t make a fuss regarding somebody holding down a steady job for twelve months. You might use it as an excuse to nip down the pub, or curry house, with your workmates for a cheeky Friday night session but in most cases it’s a pretty unremarkable milestone. That is until you compare it to working at Leyton Orient F.C  over the past four years, because in this case Justin Edinburgh has not only outlasted his eleven predecessors by a good distance but has gone on to achieve a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of this club in the process. To put it simply what he has achieved here in a relatively short space of time is quite simply astonishing.

So where did it go right for a coach that arrived at Brisbane Road on the back of two short and unsuccessful spells at league clubs Gillingham and Northampton Town? Edinburgh certainly didn’t drop into a club that was in a comfortable  league position and with confidence on the pitch and  in the stands at a healthy level. In fact he walked into a scenario that was the complete opposite, which was basically a set up where Orient’s league form was in meltdown,  the performances on the field being at an all time low and with some of the playing staff and our own supporters becoming downright hostile to one another. Right from the off anyone could tell this wouldn’t be an overnight fix and the brief was ‘For God’s sake stop the rot’ before any talk of moving forward could be taken even semi-seriously. That first match in charge of Edinburgh’s reign at Solihull Moors only underlined the enormity of the task ahead for the new head coach. The home side were in the bottom four of the table and had already been beaten by the O’s four months earlier which meant that –on paper at least– there was a good chance of turning around a run of fourteen league games without a win. Two hours later Edinburgh had suffered his first defeat as O’s boss as the team slumped to another defeat with an abysmal performance to accompany it. Tempers frayed in the away end  afterwards with Jobi McAnuff and some of the Orient coaching staff getting involved in a heated argument with irate fans. How the hell were we going to turn this around when it looked as if most of the playing staff where not up to the rigours of this division and didn’t possess the fight to pull us clear of the relegation places? If our new head coach didn’t know the extent of the troubles at his new club he was fully up to speed after his first match in charge. The date of this match is significant, because that encounter took place on the 2nd December 2017. Exactly twelve months later on the 2nd December 2018. Leyton Orient were top of the National league following a 2-0  over bogey side Gateshead, had fifty points on the board and a goal difference of plus thirty one.

That following Saturday The O’s hosted high flying Sutton United at Brisbane Road and destroyed the visitors to the tune of 4-1. It was the beginning of a  three match winning streak and slowly, but surely, Edinburgh guided his new club to mid table safety by the end of the following April. It wasn’t an easy ride by any means and the O’s were still looking over their shoulders by the time that Woking were Demolished 3-0 on the 24th of March. But you could appreciate the way Edinburgh was starting to mould his team and the philosophy that went with it. Orient began to move the ball forward much quicker for starters to utilise the pace of Macauley Bonne and encouraged youngsters such as Judd to support the attack from the flank. Perhaps the crucial change at this point, though, was getting to grips with the one definitive weakness over the past three seasons, namely our collective defending as a team, especially from set plays and the amount of goals we conceded began to recede accordingly.  Veteran goalkeeper, Dean Brill, was re-introduced  to regular football from semi retirement as JE looked for an experienced head to guide a porous back-line and crucially Josh Coulson became a calming, solid presence at centre half. However, this didn’t come in time to prevent the disgraceful collapse we endured during the F.A Trophy encounter with Gateshead where the O’s tossed a semi-final place away after leading 3-0 with twenty minutes left on the clock. Nevertheless, the statistic that said it all was the one relating to goals conceded since Justin took over here at the back end of November 2017. From his first twenty four games the team had given up seventeen goals and  had shrugged off the soft touch tag that had become the norm during Steve Davis’s short but turbulent reign. Basically (as the gritty televised performance against  National champions elect Macclesfield Town had demonstrated) the club had at last turned the corner and O’s supporters looked forward to a close season where Edinburgh’s player recruitment would lay the foundations at a serious promotion bid.

The extended summer break and the World cup shenanigans meant that Orient’s summer recruitment, or perceived lack of it, sort of went under the radar when most of us where expecting four or five new faces to come breezing through the Brisbane road portals in an attempt to lead us back to the football league. The biggest talking point eventually centred on Orient’s inability to to land Ebou Adams in the face of stiff competition from Ebbesfleet Untied. An episode that didn’t go down so well with a section of our support who felt that the midfielders already at the club were not capable of pushing the team towards the top end of the table. Undeterred, Edinburgh still brought in Dale Gorman after missing out on his main midfield target and followed this by signing  James Alabi from Tranmere, who was basically a target man to give the side some presence up front. With his squad assembled Edinburgh and his coaching staff took the players over to Portugal for a pre season training camp, a decision that appears to have become pivotal in the success the team has enjoyed since then. In virtually every interview given to various media of late Justin, Ross Embelton and even Nigel Travis have alluded to a constant theme relating to the togetherness and building of team spirit that the trip to the Algarve provided last summer and how it has provided a launchpad in regards to Orient’s climb to the top of the National league table. It certainly didn’t do our warm up results any harm either, apart from going down to a narrow 4-5 defeat to Bernfica ‘B’ (those who made the trip who were sober enough to remember it obviously didn’t party hard enough) while they were out in Portugal Edinburgh’s team were unbeaten up to the season’s opener, away at highly fancied newcomers, Salford city. The presence of the T.V camera’s usually spell disaster and by half time the O’s were 0-1 down as our televised curse looked to continue. The second half heralded an O’s fight back and Craig Clay’s scrambled leveller late on sparked wild scenes in the away end and on our bench as the O’s gained a deserved point against a side that are many were touting as favourites for the title. Our next two games ended up in disappointing draws, especially when we conceded a late goal to Barrow which led to a few people bemoaning our lack of activity in relation strengthening the squad further.  looking  back at that early period I think Edinburgh made an error by trying to shoehorn Alabi into the starting line up too early and should have stuck with the Bonne/Koroma combination up top that finished the previous season strongly. However, our manager put that right for the next game at Maidstone United and brought Marvin Ekpiteta in a centre half for the now injured George Elokobi, two changes that have given us the settled O’s starting X1 ever since and the one that produced that all important first win on the night in Kent. It was the catalyst for our season starting in earnest and the ride from then on has been fantastic to be a part of, whether you are a player or ordinary rank and file supporter.

So how has Justin Edinburgh succeeded where as other have failed? Well, the one stand out feature of his reign is that the standard of the teams’ collective and individual performance has gone up from a 5-6/10 under Davis to a 7-8/10 rating under Edinburgh. It’s basically why Orient are top of the table and not in the bottom six as was the case when he took over here in November 2017. I don’t think there is any magic formula to the massive improvement to be honest, but the one thing that does come across is that Edinburgh appears to be an old school manager in that he knows exactly how he wants his team to set up and leaves his players in no doubt in relation  to how they are expected perform when they are on the park. I think he is a motivator first and a coach second, but that’s not a bad thing in my book because over the past three years we have had good technical coaches put in charge of the first team but nobody with the personality or presence to lead or direct players to fulfil their full obligations to the cause, although I suppose Danny Webb came closest to it during his short spell in charge during the dark days of early 2017.  In the past I have drawn a comparison to Neil Warnock in this respect as individuals are given a specific role that they understand and are comfortable in and are required to produce on a consistent basis. Players and others from within the club have commented on this straight talking approach when required but also on Justin’s ability to be approachable and join in a joke with his players and staff, too. Its certainly worked thus far and the rapid development of Josh Koroma who has flourished under Edinburgh after a rocky spell at the club when Steve Davis was in charge is probably testament to where Orient are now as a club. Other youngsters are developing too, and when you have players such as Myles Judd, Dan Happe and Marvin Ekpiteta (in his case coming from step two football to being touted as a potential championship performer) then you know that we are going down the right path here at E.10.

There is also a case to be made for the contribution -and Edinburgh has alluded to this himself- that his coaching team of Webb and Embleton have made in regards to the improvement many of the players have made this season. They can take a lot of credit and pride for the way  they have  improved individual performances with  the likes of Clay and Widdowson having moved on from two players who supporters thought needed replacing to ones that are making significant contributions this season. It’s also no coincidence that Orient’s improved fitness as a team has led to late goals and, more importantly, league points being picked up throughout this campaign. During that winless fifteen match run that predated Justin’s arrival at the club the main contributing factor was put down to a lack of  comprehensive  pre season preparation for a league where our fitness and basic physicality were found wanting. I’d be of the opinion that Edinburgh, Embelton and Webb have changed that scenario from day one and forged an excellent training ground set up, almost by accident, resulting in the club  residing at it’s strongest level in regard to the playing set up for five years. It is, indeed, to use Justin Edinburgh’s own words ‘An incredible turnaround’ in a relatively short space of time, but it is a revival brought about by one man’s influence, work ethic and ability to interact with players in a positive way. There would be no better reward than to witness Justin Edinburgh lead Leyton Orient back to league football. It’s where both of us belong.

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NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU….

Posted: October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

So he we are, at the top of the National league table and loving it.  We have, arguably, hit the high water mark of the past five years although some would point to the five straight wins the club that took the summit of the league two table under Ian Hendon three years ago as a comparable achievement. Not many though.

With Orient’s resurgence has come the plaudits and  even comparisons with the near miss team of 2013/4 season. One punter on twitter ventured  as far as to say the 2018 O’S side that were are currently watching is better than the one that Included Cox, Baudry, Lisbie and co. When I first saw that I wondered if the poster had partaken in one too many in the supporters club bar, but it did get me thinking and maybe he wasn’t wrong or at the least not far off the mark. Lets have a session of compare and contrast then.

 

Goalkeepers: Dean Brill vs Jamie Jones, Eldin Jakupović, Shwan Jalal and many more…

This time last season Dean Brill was in semi-retirement, overseeing the development of young goalkeepers Charlie Grainger and Sam Sergeant. He now finds himself number one pick  for the first team and has been since Justin Edinburgh walked through the door here last November. Quite simply it’s an incredible turnaround in the goalkeeping situation that had been an issue since Cisak was dropped by Danny Webb during Becchetti’s reign of terror in February 2017.  Even after our relegation from the league it was decided to give two relatively green goalkeepers the job of being the last line of an ever porous defence for the new campaign. In fact Grainger and Sergeant were persisted with while our back line became evermore sieve-like as the season progressed and it was obvious that we needed experience when it came to organising the back four instead of plain decent shot stopping.  With that in mind Edinburgh brought Brill back for his first game in charge at Solihull and -despite losing – Brill did save a penalty and became one of the very few goalkeepers here that I have seen talk to and boss his defenders in front of him.

I think Dean Brill is another who has benefited from a decent pre season. He looks fitter and more confident with it. He also has some very decent performances to his name already, especially at Halifax and at home to Solihull Moors when he kept us in the game at 1-0 with three excellent stops. Looking back five years to his counterparts you have to say that Brill is only bettered by the on loan Eldin Jacupovic on performance. Jones was inconsistent and many still blame him for the O’s losing the play-off final while Shwan Jalal was simply a clown. How Macclesfield managed to become promoted with him in the side will forever remain a mystery.

So I’ll go for;2018 O’s 7 and 2014  O’s 8Only because of the form of Jacupovic in between the sticks.

So let’s move on to the players in front…

Defenders: Myles Judd, Joe Widdowson, Marvin Ekpiteta and Josh Coulson v Scott Cuthbert, Elliot Omozusi, Mathieu Baudry and Nathan Clarke.

Tricky. I think Judd and Marvin have come on leaps and bounds so far this season. One person from within the club reckons that Ekpiteta could go on to play championship football if he keeps this level of progression going. That’s phenomenal considering he was playing in the national league south eight months ago and if he can iron a few flaws in his game (players getting behind him on the blind side being one) that prediction could well come to fruition at some point. Widdowson has put in some solid if unspectacular performances and has started to win the doubters over after a previous season that left many of us thinking that we could do with a new left back to start this one. His form is not too dissimilar to  Omozusi’s in the 2013/14 after he came back to the club after a spell in prison with much to do in regards to winning people over. But win us over he did and Elliot became a solid member of that defensive unit that was led by Clarke and given a touch of class by Baudry. Scott Cuthbert found himself playing at left back when he was a far better performer at centre half, although when you have the young legs of Moses Odubajo in front of you to help cover it helps immensely.

This time around we have Josh Coulson’s experience and Ekpiteta’s strength and pace holding it together in central defence allied with the willing running of Myles Judd. I think Judd is far from the finished article, but he’s a battler and that’s what we need right now along with his ability to get forwards and help the attack. Orient are now playing with an intensity not seen here for a good five years and it’s starting from the back and paying dividends for us. Coulson’s experience is complimented by Ekpiteta’s pace and strength. They are not too dissimilar in relation to John Mackie and Gab Zakuani’s partnership of the 2006 promotion season which became the bedrock of our success that campaign.

Judging this one is tough, but I’m doing this as a unit not as individuals. I’m going for; 2018 O’s 7 and 2014 O’s 7.   I can’t split them. Sorry Marvin.

Next stop it’s the engine room of the midfield…

Step forward, Craig Clay, Charlie Lee, Jobi McAnuff and James Dayton. Lining up against Dean Cox, Romain Vincelot, Moses Odubajo and Lloyd James.

Where the hell do we start.? If we posed the question ‘Who do you rate higher?’  at the start of this season regarding these two quartets there would simply have been no contest. Quite frankly, a complete mismatch with Deano and co walking away with it. I suppose it speaks volumes for the improvements made by Clay, Lee, Dayton and to a lesser extent McAnuff over the past three months that this going to be closer than it should be. Quite simply Cox is possibly the most influential player we have had at the club this century in terms of goals and assists. Vincelot was a  box to box warrior for us and Moses, but for a terrible injury would have been a premier league player with his pace and all round ability. Even Lloyd James had a very solid season after not impressing earlier in his O’s career, not too dis-similar to Craig Clay who is putting the sort of grafting performances in on a regular basis that James did that season.

Creatively we have to look no further than Jobi McAnuff when making the case for the side that is representing the O’s 2018. Jobi’s all round contribution has been galvanised by Justin Edinburgh’s arrival here at E10. In the past he’d struggled to live up to his billing after he arrived here in 2014 and I always thought his legs had gone when his performances just didn’t stand up during our fall as a club. Being shabbily treated by a power crazed owner and over complicit head coaches didn’t help either. From a player that was involved in an unsavoury argument with a section of our support up regarding a lack of effort at Solihull less than a year ago to becoming our most influential player and  team captain is some turn around in fortunes. The effect  Jobi has on some of the younger players shouldn’t be underestimated either. Koroma and Bonne are having the rough edges taken off of them and the bloke pulling the strings behind them can take a lot of credit for that alone.  As for Lee and Clay, they have quite simply stunned many of us with the way they have played this season. They are providing the platform for players such as Dayton and McAnuff to express themselves and do a lot of the dirty work in defending our half of the pitch when in counts.  I’ll be honest and say Vincelot would have probably kept both of them out of the side but it is a much closer call now than it would have been a year back. Dayton is another player who has started to win me over. I thought that he’d flattered to deceive for much of the time last season with his end product being nowhere hear what it should be. Two stunning strikes so far versus Chesterfield and Barnet plus an assist v Dover are beginning to change that view. Again, I’d take Moses Odubajo over him but it would be a closer call than a year earlier.

Individually, the 2014 midfield has more going for it. If nothing else the one weakness the 2018 side has is that we are a bit impotent from free kicks on the edge of the box and you get the feeling that if we had a couple of players capable of delivering a direct strike into the top corner of the goal (such as Dean Cox could provide) on a consistent basis then we would have the extra quality that would guarantee the league title being brought here for everyone to savour in May. With that in mind I’m giving my vote to the 2014 midfield on this one; 2018 O’s 7  and 2014 O’s 8.

Finally the forwards…

Macaulay Bonne and Josh Koroma  pairing up against Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney.

As forward partnerships go I can’t recall one as good as Mooney and Lisbie’s at Orient since the days of Peter Kitchen and Joe Mayo forty years ago. It just simply worked  for us in a glorious fashion. It’s ironic then that five years on from that prolific season that David Mooney has been given a free transfer by Justin Edinburgh as he feels that we have enough strikers at the club to see us through this season. What prompted this is anyone’s guess, but maybe Edinburgh felt that Mooney wasn’t quite cut out for the physical challenges that this division presents.  Going back to 2014 Kevin Lisbie was a seasoned campaigner that could work a defence with intelligent running and holding the ball up in dangerous areas. He could also produce a finish when required. The thirty five league goals they produced that 2013-2014 season as a pairing was a great return in anyone’s book and if Bonne and Koroma get anywhere near that this season then the O’s will be there or thereabouts in the promotion shake up. Anyone that has viewed the you tube clip of Orient’s 3-1 at Peterborough in  November 2013 will agree just how exceptionally that front two could perform for us on any given Saturday.

Moving forward five years to Bonne and Koroma it’s worth remembering that at in terms of playing regular league football they are relative newcomers. Bonne has surprised many of us with the sheer work rate he puts in with his non stop running. That he has bagged over thirty league goals in 60 odd games is a phenomenal strike rate. The fact that he has also missed some absolute sitters in that time also tells us that there is room to improve. The same can be said of Josh Koroma in that respect. Josh is another who has knuckled down under Edinburgh’s stewardship and it has been mutually beneficial for both player and team alike. From being marooned on the fringe of the first team squad  under Steve Davis to becoming a second striker is testament to the transformation the club has gone through in less than a year. What I like about Koroma is that he’ll take a shot and try to poach a goal when others might hesitate and look for a pass instead. It doesn’t always come off and he needs to learn just when and where to  make a goal attempt or hold the ball up, but his main asset is pace and that is one thing that the team has sorely lacked over the past three or for seasons.  You can tell that Josh’s all round game is starting to improve, though, and the longer he can keep playing regular football in a good side the quicker he will develop. This time around I’d say that the threat of our forwards using their pace at defences is Orient’s main asset, coupled with our  improved fitness as the amount of goals we are scoring in the last fifteen minutes  in matches  demonstrates. As an out and out pairing I don’t think that Bonne and Koroma are on a par with Lisbie and Mooney. I think their game is based on running in behind  and beyond defenders where as the forward pairing  of 2014 relied on the hold up play of Lisbie to work chances from . They also had a the luxury of Dean Cox and Moses Odubajo to provide a lot of the opportunities to rack up their goal tally. So, again, I’ll go with the near miss side of five years previous; 2014 O’s 8 2018 O’s 6.

Summing up…

 It’s always interesting to compare teams from different eras, but of course there are also other parameters to consider when doing so such as the management set up and all round health of the club itself. The main one being in this respect that the Leyton Orient of 2013-2014 had a vastly superior level of opposition to contend with such as Wolves, Brentford, Sheffield United, Preston North End , MK Dons and Bradford City and looking back almost half a decade on it’s disturbing that we have replaced those fixtures with the likes (and with respect to those clubs) of Solihull Moors, Braintree, Dover and Barrow. However, we are where we are and if this current team can deliver a return to the football league for this club and its long suffering support they will cement their place in O’s history as true winners, a tag not granted to many O’s teams over the past 137 years.

 

Coates

Mention the name Ralph Coates to O’s (and Spurs) supporters of a certain age and the phrase ‘He had Bobby Charlton’s combover’ would in all probability be thrown back at you. Even so, there was a lot more to Ralph than just his hair  blowing in the breeze as he ghosted down the wing at Brisbane Road during the back end of the 1970’s.

It’s quite easy to forget that Ralph Coates had a pretty decent career even before the walked through the door at E.10 around forty years ago. He played top flight football at Burnley in the 1960’s and earned two England caps along the way before Ralph made the transition to Tottenham for a cool £190,000 following the clarets relegation to the old second division in 1971. Coates played a big role in spurs’s successful team of the early part of that decade (when they used to win silverware) and could boast UEFA and league cup winner medals, scoring the winner in the 1973 final V Norwich City. There were also two other international caps for England, against Wales and Malta, to go alongside those honours.

Five years later Ralph found himself signing for the O’s and fitting into a side with the likes of fellow ex- Spurs team mate Ian Moores. Those days were part of  my early O’s supporting ‘career’, but one thing my hazy memory can recall are that the goals he scored tended to be a bit on the spectacular side. Two televised crackers, one in the classic 3-3 home encounter v Brighton in March 1979 and away at Sunderland in 1980 stand out, along with a belter v Cambridge United in front of the south terrace on the 1st of March 1980 that crashed in off of the cross bar in a 2-0 win.

Following the close of the 1979/80 season Ralph lost his place in the side and eventually joined the coaching staff at the O’s before retiring and drifting away from the professional game. He continued to play non-league football for Hertford Heath, Ware and Nazing and also ran a local sports centre after a stint as a travel agent.

In 2010 Ralph Coates was inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur ‘Hall of Fame’ but tragically suffered a stroke in December that year and passed away shortly afterwards. His O’s legacy will always be one of a talented, popular player who could conjure up a goal out of nothing. I’ve reproduced an article produced for the club magazine from a fixture V Oldham Athletic from 10 January 1981 which featured Ralph and added a you tube clip  featuring his goal for the O’s v Brighton from 1979.

ralph coats

 

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With the O’s boasting an unbeaten start to the new season There are a few long suffering supporters thinking that the club is finally on it’s way back to better times. After a chance find in a Suffolk junk shop we can take a look back 48 years to 1970, just as Orient were beginning to turn some pretty desperate recent history around back then…

Back from the brink_1

The Scott McGliesh interview

Posted: August 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

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With three separate spells at East London’s finest spanning fifteen years you could say that Scott McGliesh had seen it all at the O’s. ‘Kid Sampson’ grabbed a fantastic interview with Scotty for the ‘Ear  back in 2010.

click on link to access the interview

Scott McGleish

One night in Millwall…

Posted: August 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

jarvis

On a chilly February evening in 2007 the O’s took part in a bit of a classic encounter south of the river Thames at the ‘Den’, home of the infamous Millwall F.C. 

That game was notable for the hat-trick produced by on loan forward, Ryan Jarvis, one that etched his name into Orient folklore and sealed a memorable 5-2 victory. It was also a night that one O’s fan received death threats from his fellow supporters for declaring that the points were in the bag when Orient were 3-0 up after twenty minutes. Joe Durston takes up the story…

Millwall 2 Leyton Orient 5

 

 

 

 

The Big Lee Steele interview

Posted: August 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

SOCCER Oxford

When it comes to cult heroes the name Lee Steele is pretty high up on the list of many long suffering O’s supporters. Joe Durston (who became quite adept at tracking down and grabbing a few words with former O’s players) comes up with another cracking interview that graced issue 190 of the ‘Ear back in August 2008.

Click on link below to access the interview

The Big Lee Steele interview