The O’s are making a play-off charge. This article to appear in the Leyton Orientear, out on March 19th
He’s Kevin Nolan. So once more Becchetti has rolled the dice in relation to appointing a ‘Head Coach’ that can move this club forward. Although this time around he may just have stumbled upon someone who can actually turn our fortunes around and get the O’s into the play-off places come May. In no time at all he has a nomination for ‘ Manager of the month’ etched on to his C.V, although it didn’t do the last bloke much good, admittedly.
In regards to Nolan’s appointment I’d have to say that a, it appears to have been ‘A’, a ‘punt’ from FB and ‘B’, It was probably in his mind for at least two weeks before the job was actually offered to the former West Ham skipper.
The thing is with choosing a manager/ head coach that the process is what I’d describe as 25% instinct and 75% luck in relation to getting a good fit for the position. Even Ian Hendon probably came over well in his interview with Becchetti and Angelieri last summer but it eventually ended up going the same way as ‘sorry lads’ last managerial job at Barnet. Getting off to a great start but coming up short when it came to turning a bad run of results around. Reflecting on it now I would put forward a case for the rot well and truly setting in regarding Hendon’s reign with the performance against Wimbledon last year and the barrage of criticism his performance in the dug out attracted that afternoon. Both he and the team never fully recovered from it in terms of having the full confidence of the O’s support (and probably president)which has resulted in Orient ending up with coach number six of ‘el presidente’s’ reign in E10.
So what can we make of it so far? Well Kevin’s certainly been helped by an influx of players which now give him something resembling a squad to work with. Hendon just didn’t have the options available to him required to tackle a 50 match campaign (possibly his own fault, though) and we have gone from barely having enough players on the bench to possessing something resembling some depth in our playing resources.
On first look I’d put forward that the results v Wycombe and Newport were definitely a result of ‘New manager’ syndrome and the real Leyton Orient turned up for the Cambridge disaster a week later where the defending that afternoon reached a new low , even in a season of car crash giveaways such as this one has produced At least this has resulted in Nolan binning off all the defenders that Hendon signed and (up until Luton’s goal the other week) the result has been orient picking up the points that have brought us back into contention. Since then I’d say that the football has been methodical rather than sleek and silky. We have ground out good victories at Portsmouth and Notts County but we were found lacking the craft and guile needed to unlock tight defences such as Luton’s and Northampton. In both those games I felt that Nolan kept himself on the pitch for too long and wasn’t affecting the play in a way that benefited the team. That’s when he or the coaching staff need to be just a bit braver and make a change. Nolan does at least have an on field presence and leadership that the team has been crying out for a good 18 months , I would also make a case for Baudry’s form improving since Nolan’s arrival and him not having to do too much skippering whilst holding the defence together.
The club finds itself still in with a decent shout in regards to a top seven finish, though.
Following the match at the Kassam our last 10 matches have at least 6 fixtures that we should be looking to take wins from to take us up to 71 points. Last season Plymouth came in at 7th spot on that very points total so there is still hope. So, could we still end up celebrating the worst O’s side ever to have been promoted on May the 30th? I would not rule that scenario out, as once you get into those end of season lottery matches anything can happen. It has been a real rollercoaster campaign ,but you just get the feeling that even if we don’t make it this season that we could have just seen the beginnings of a turnaround of real substance here at the O,s.
You can always tell when there is something nasty about to emerge for football when the CEO’s of top premier league clubs get together in a clandestine meeting with American television executives at a top London Hotel. And this time around it’s our old friend ‘European super league’ that is being touted as the next giant leap forward for the game of soccer or whatever they are calling it. This usually raises its head when all the premier league clubs get humiliated in the champions league and start blaming their collective failure on too many domestic cup ties. The problem is that the people at the F.A are so desperate to keep the big clubs participating fully in their flagship competition that they are only too willing to give the premier league clubs anything they ask for in relation to no more replays, seeding, penalty shoot out’s and ‘Play as much time as it takes for Arsenal to score a winner’.
‘What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create [it]? Who has had more of an integral role [in European football], Manchester United or Leicester? It’s a wonderful story – but you could see it from United’s point of view, too.”
These words of wisdom uttered by American T.V executive Charlie Stillitano on his plan to keep European club competition just for the elite and to close the door to the likes of Leicester City who are tantalisingly close to pulling off the most unlikely league titles since Nottingham forest 38 years ago. My first reaction to that quote was: ‘Twat’, and two weeks on it has changed to: ‘Big Twat’. The bottom line is what will re-structuring the champions league actually do in regard to benefiting the paying public or general standard of football? Well not much really. I think the technical standard of football and the physicality that goes alongside it has never been better, so not much to add there and I don’t hold out much hope in relation for £30 match tickets either unless you want to stick a 1 in front of the 30 which would be nearer the price bracket.
Unless the clubs want to completely break away from domestic football how is this going to work? There will be at least 6 English clubs who would feel entitled to a place, along with 2 Spanish, French, Dutch, German and three Italian and maybe a couple from Portugal, Russia and elsewhere to make the numbers up. There is no doubt that at some point some massive clubs are going to end up being excluded from this money avalanche with somebody having to make that call. I think that’s where this idea could ultimately fail as greed (certainly not love) could tear it apart- hopefully.
There is also the matter of what the businesses that bankroll the premier league have to say in all of this seeing that they have just signed a deal that will bring £5 billion quid into English football’s coffers. The disappointing thing so far is that That no one from the Premier league or the F.A has come out and said this is a terrible proposal, despite it being a complete ‘up yours’ to the competitions and competitive ethos that football in Britain and most of Europe has been built on for over 150 years. The only bright spot in this story is that most of the press have virtually come right out against the idea and the people trying to engineer it from the off. Even Manchester city’s Manuel Pelligrini had his finger on the pulse:
“I think it’s important that every country has its own domestic competition and that you arrive in the Champions League for the merits from the whole season,” the manager said. “In South America there was something similar, where they tried to join all the important clubs of every country, and it was not very successful”.
I’ll leave you with a few closing words from Claudio Rainieri. A shoe in for manager of the year and a man who speaks for many of us:
‘I understand they want to do something but if something strange happens, don’t blame the little teams. They have to blame themselves. Maybe they have a good idea. But they should ask: “Why is a little team like Leicester doing better than us?”‘
Well said Claudio: Now for flip’s sake go and win the bloody title.