Harold Wilson once famously uttered that; ‘A week is a long time in politics’. Well he should have hung around for a few decades to see what one is like at Leyton Orient F.C in the 21st century. The seven days post our disintegration at Barnet’s Hive ground can only be described as off the scale – even compared to last season.
A manager demoted (temporarily we are told) a goalkeeping coach paid up and replaced by another one that was fired last year, a sort of fans protest and the club owner making his own video calling for unity at the club and then going on to be involved in picking the team for the next match(Which at least is now out in the open I suppose, after rumblings throughout the season) Oh, I almost forgot – the O’s have won a game at last. Scraping through 3-2 against the worst side in the league, which has now justified absolutely everything that’s gone on at the club in the past seven days. So it’s all over to the supporters club to celebrate with beers, high fives and selfies with the owner. When you are desperate for a saviour, I suppose anyone will do – as Donald Trump is proving over in the states right now. When Barry Hearn labelled O’s supporters as morons 17 years ago he was probably more clued up than we’d like to admit going by that.
Yet are we being too harsh on Becchetti? Once again he has taken steps to halt a slide in results that are un-palatable to a lot of supporters but in some way understandable with our season in danger of falling apart at the death. The performance at Barnet was a shocker, there is no denying it, and it came on the back of three other dismal results, but Nolan has had his legs cut from under him (which could explain his form as a player in the run up to this) after 15 games and a 47% win percentage and this is basically the sort of knee jerk re-action associated with the moaners in the stands who are so often castigated by others. The irony is that asking Nolan to go back to being a player just confounds the problems, seeing as his form simply didn’t justify a place in the starting line up. Nolan is said to be Furious at the demotion, but he is yet another one in football who didn’t heed the warnings and thought it would be different with him in charge. He was foolish to have taken the job in the first place going by what has gone on at the club previously.
This sort of upheaval has become a ridiculously regular scenario since the infamous ‘Sladegate’ episode 18 months ago and basically involves making big changes with not much planning as to what we do for the better being involved by the president. Yet at every turn Becchetti has decided to do it his way without thinking things through properly or keeping people around that might just say ‘No’ Mr. President, let’s consider this option before we seriously start getting involved in changing the playing set up or otherwise ’. Almost all these type of changes instigated by FB haven’t had anything resembling the desired effect and only lowered morale and confidence in and around our club.
OK, you could even argue that the owner has been a tad unlucky with people around him not producing what they should have and you would be right to a certain extent. But what we are seeing now is something else entirely. Firing Nolan following a whole four games without a win is proper flaky stuff and has rightly got a few people worried in regard as to where Becchetti will take us eventually. I’ve read it said that some supporters want to see ‘Becchetti fail’ or that some in LOFT (the supporters trust) have an ‘agenda’ against him. Really? Just what is that then?
Is it to make the president look like someone who is unfit to run a football league club of 110 years standing and to force him out paving the way for a supporters trust inspired take over at Leyton Orient F.C? I’d say that the president doesn’t really need any help in that department going by his actions thus far and I don’t know anybody in LOFT who has £5 million quid to cover the debts or the cash to pay the rent to Barry Hearn or even buy the club from Becchetti. I would never want to see or hear any even semi-serious talk about a trust take over at the O’s because it would mean that we really were in the shit and going out of business.
Going by the reaction by some after the president’s video plea to get behind the team you would have thought that we’d all witnessed some Churchillian call to arms and not the panicky reaction to an ill thought fans protest that never got off the ground. This in effect was Loft’s victory. In that the man who’s decisions that (in the main) have taken us from third in league one to mid table in league two in less than two years and is accountable to nobody actually resorted to taking part in a stunt like that. Going by the news that he has now agreed to meet the club’s rank and file support in the summer maybe it can be taken as a sign that our under fire owner is taking these concerns seriously at last. Before anyone starts classing this as brilliant news and proof that Becchetti is willing to discuss his actions it may be a good idea to get a view from the people who work for him where you’ll find a completely different perspective.
At the end of the day he’s making all the major calls here, not the blokes in the stand, LOFT, Barry Hearn (Some idiots on the unofficial message board are still blaming Hearn for selling the club to Becchetti for this mess!) or the Waltham Forest Guardian sports department. The simple facts are Becchetti and his associates aren’t really coming over as fit and proper people to run a football league club, going by what we’ve seen in less than two years. They have the money- apparently, but just as importantly they need the patience and know how to get them to where they want to go from people who have experience of doing just that. By continually treating their staff like crap there is very little chance of getting people of the right calibre here and choosing the team by ‘committee’ i.e- who the president wants in it-should have alarm bells ringing for any prospective manager/coach considering an approach.
Experience is the key ingredient they lack (along with pure common sense it could be argued) and just as the O’s found themselves in a 8 way chase for one play-off spot after the Dagenham encounter it’s the one thing that could have clinched it. Two defeats to play-off chasing Plymouth and Wimbledon –both sides not up to much in terms of quality in my opinion- only underlined that the O’s are crying out for an experienced manager/coach with some idea as how to guide us through a 46 match campaign at this level. Unfortunately, nobody of that ilk would consider a job at Leyton Orient with the current regime in charge and where the club president thinks that a label from a bottle of Peroni doubles up as some kind of coaching qualification.
So we find ourselves virtually back to where we started last May. An uncertain future awaits players, coaches and supporters and it’s certain that more surprises and changes will be coming Orient’s way over the next months. It’s virtually certain that Kevin Nolan won’t be here to lead the team next season and whether Hessenthaler or Andy Edwards have jobs (or even want them) after the sacking of Lee Harrison post Barnet is unlikely as it stands. Who takes over is anyone’s guess but once again the one constant in all these woes is Francesco Becchetti and his associates. Whether they have the capability to stop this two year slide is still highly debatable and , as ever, only time will tell.