A little Rebellion is…

Posted: January 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

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A good thing, according to a letter written 1787 by deceased president of the United states of America, Thomas Jefferson. Whether it turns out that way here at Leyton Orient remains to be seen.

I suppose the the argument whether we back Becchetti come what may due to the finance that he has pumped into the club is now going to put to the test now that it is being reported that ‘el presidente’ is looking to sell up and that there is no more money to bring in players to bolster our pitiful squad in the looming dogfight at the bottom of the league. Those blaming this on LOFT for organising a demo against the owner -which has apparently brought about this crisis-  are also pointing fingers at the players and various managers that have come and gone here over the past 30 months and, to be fair, those parties have more than played their part our demise both individually and collectively.

But let’s get it right here, LOFT were coming out against the way things were being done here first and foremost. I should think many of the supporters who were waving red cards during the Blackpool match just wanted Becchetti not to be as reckless when it came to hiring and firing coaches and to, basically, wind his neck in and change the culture that has seen the O’s labelled as ‘Britain’s craziest club’ in some sections of the media. And yet when these concerns were raised at the fans forum meeting with Miceli and Gagliardi they were pretty much dismissed out of hand. In fact, they insisted that the O’s remained a well run outfit and that the players were at the heart of the problem. Considering that Gagliardi replaced Dean Cox (for whatever reason) with N’nomo, Janse and Benedicic you at the very least have to question that assumption. The club has developed a clear reputation for freezing players out as soon as a perceived problem arises and in effect make a bad situation worse for all concerned. In the worst case interfering with a substitution being made by the head coach while the game is in progress, although I’d blame Hessenthaler for being too gutless to stop that particular nonsense in its tracks by just telling those responsible where to get off at the time. I suppose it’s a little like actors playing villains on screen and stage. The key thing to bear in mind is that no matter how deranged the character is and acts, in his eyes, he isn’t doing anything wrong.

The last twelve months have been a train wreck here at first team level which is saying something following on from the previous eighteen. Becchetti has made four changes of head coach in that time where Cavasin and Nolan were old fashioned ‘punts'(although Nolan might have worked as just a straight forward manager role and not player) and Hessenthaler took the job for a pay rise knowing that he would get fired despite covering for his boss more times that was healthy for his own reputation. Now Andy Edwards has been handed the poison chalice and despite a decent performance at the recent meet the manager evening (as well as getting two home league wins under his belt) he is discovering that changing the O’s on field fortunes with this squad is going to be just as tough has Cavasin found out during his brief tenure.

In the programme notes for the Crawley game CEO Angelieri (if he actually wrote them) enthused about the number of youngsters being signed up to full professional status as proof of the ongoing commitment of the president to the Orient cause which is a tad surprising as he’d stayed away from the club for a month citing the crowds’  growing negative reaction to his presence at games. However, the inclusion of Judd and Dalby did perk the squad up and even managed to get the O’s support more on side with the team. I got the impression that Massey’s form improved with Judd alongside him and it was typical Orient luck that Dalby got crocked after a debut goal v Cambridge six days later. Josh Koroma has been blooded and had a decent first 45 minutes against Barnet but the bottom line is that how matter how good these kids are this isn’t really the time to saddle them with the job of keeping us out of trouble at the foot of the table. Individual mistakes have constantly dogged us this season and it appears that whoever is placed in charge simply cannot eradicate them. Cisak and Parkes’ gift to Barnet’s centre half for the opener in our last home game was pathetic, even going by this season but it would be unfair to single them out when collectively and individually the team looks hell bent on shooting itself in the foot game in and game out.

So where does all this leave us? At the time of writing nothing is being said officially about the club being up for sale but Edwards interview after the Barnet defeat didn’t do much to raise hopes in relation to bringing in new faces while the injury list lengthens and the fixtures come thick and fast.  We could even find that Sammy Moore ends up back in favour here and starting (if Collins departs) after a loan spell at Dover that looked certain end in a permanent move. Although it appears that there is no money to spend (unless we sell Simpson – who isn’t going to play another game for us by the looks of it) there is part of me that feels that the £12 million quid that Becchetti has lent the club during his time here has got us precisely nowhere and in fact has been more of a millstone to the people involved in running the football set up at the club. Being  a coach constantly scrutinised by an owner and associates with little  in the way of footballing credentials and the constant threat of being replaced after three bad results has played a massive part in the situation the club finds itself today. It’s a scenario that Becchetti has gone on record as saying that he prefers work by (although he’s not too keen on being scrutinised himself when it comes to it) but it is that very thing that has done the worst damage here.

As for Andy Edwards the only bright spot following our latest defeat that might help him is with Becchetti looking to sell he might get a chance to turn things around without too much interference from upstairs for the time being. Unfortunately, that’s as good as it’s going to get for now and you get the feeling that we are all going to be in for a rough ride until the end of the season.  Meanwhile it’s ironic that ex manager, John Sitton, is promoting his book in the supporters club later this month where his disastrous meltdown season of 1994/5  will feature heavily I should think. Maybe Andy should pop along and buy a copy to get a taste of what could be coming his way in the near future, although I have a feeling that he’s witnessed more than enough here over the past three years to write one of his own.

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Meet the managers

Posted: November 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

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The Orientear has ran interviews with most of the managers that have had the misfortune to be involved at the club over the past 30 years. That was until recently when no sooner than they had been appointed the men ‘in charge’ (they wish) have moved on before they have even broken in the leather upholstery covering their chairs. However, over that time we did get to speak to the likes of Tommy Taylor, Russel Slade, Pat Holland Martin Ling and even Paul Brush so here is a quick selection from the past…russell-slade-2010martin-ling-jan-2004paul-brush-dec-2001pat-chat-1996sitton-and-turner-94tommy-taylor-live

The eagle has landed

Posted: November 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

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If you are  unfortunate to be the manager of Leyton Orient the one fixture you must perennially live in fear over must be a home game versus Exeter City. Twice within the space of ten months the Grecians have rolled up at Brisbane road and helped themselves not only to all the points but left the bloke who used to direct matters in the Orient dug out looking for work soon afterwards.

And so it came to pass that Alberto Cavasin is just the latest casualty in in the increasing line of managers to be hired and fired at the hands of Francesco Becchetti during his 27 month stewardship/reign of terror at the club. The appointment of ‘Uncle fester’ (as Cavasin had been labelled) was definitely the low water mark in the bizarre thought patterns that Orient’s president produces whenever the managerial vacancy  inevitably crops up at the O’s. I have to confess to actually laughing out loud when AC was announced as the new Orient boss in early October, seeing as Cavasin sounded like a hemorrhoid ointment but this was an act of sheer folly as it turns out, seeing that I almost fell off of the loft ladder when my son broke the news that fateful afternoon.

Six weeks later and with 5 out of seven league games ending in defeat (all at home) the final straw came with the insipid display served up against the team propping up the entire league pyramid. Exeter offered a minimal threat in attack the whole match, but the O’s-dear reader- actually produced, and I’m being generous with that description, a whole lot less. Despite Cavasin’s total unsuitability for a job at this club you’d be foolish to abdicate the players from any responsibility for what is taking place here. Some are just inadequate, others simply inconsistent but a few are just plain and simple wage thieves who have the audacity to react when told so by the people who regularly endure the garbage that this team and set up at the club consistently produce in home matches. It is no coincidence that Orient’s stand out player last night was debutante defender, Myles Judd. His performance had the look of one of a player that has played in a decent side of late, which just happens to be Orient’s youth team and a group of lads that are winning games ‘for fun’ to use the words of John Sitton. It speaks volumes that experienced players such as Weir and Atangana failed to deliver passes to our young full back when he’d made space or a forward run that actually threatened to take the attack to the visitors. The boo’s and invective that came their way told it’s own sorry tale at the end of that tepid first half performance.

News that Cavasin had been relived of his duties broke late Wednesday afternoon. A sacking that would have come sooner but for people still recovering from Alberto’s post match call for the players to turn up at Doncaster next Saturday  armed with ‘helmets, knives and teeth’. Well at least you left ’em laughing mate. Ciao, baby. The upshot of all this being that Andy Edwards has been put in charge of the first team (again) until the end of the season with Danny Webb assistant. To be honest this was the only sensible option left open to the people who loosely claim to be running the club and in a way it was miraculous that Edwards ended up in charge of the team rather than a fugitive from a seira ‘A’ panini sticker album circa 1982. But it wasn’t only the club’s rank and file support that were pushing for Edwards to become team boss. In an unprecedented move a local journalist who covers the club, George sessions, virtually called on the clubs support to crank up the booing against Cavasin just to get Becchetti to change manager now and not let this slump go any further. We are indeed living in turbulent times.

As it stands I think that the new set up will get the players back on board, at least in the short term. Number one, they will be able to understand what they are being told  by the coach  – which is pretty helpful – and morale will improve at a stroke. It was also interesting that our bench for Tuesday was made up of four  other youth players plus Sandro Samedo and this points to some of the youngsters that are producing at youth level possibly getting a crack at a first team spot if the regular first team continually fail to deliver. My only reservation about that would be if the team is still struggling this would be no time to throw them into a relegation dogfight with our 112 year place in the football league at stake.

After Edwards and Webb took charge for two games earlier in the season the word was that they were disappointed not to get the gig for longer. Well now they have finally grabbed the sort of poison chalice that wouldn’t look out of place in the Macbeth drinks cabinet this is going to turn into examination of not only their coaching credentials but their ability to deal with the now infamous ‘circus upstairs and at the training ground’ of Becchetti, Gagliardi, Miceli and the apparently poorly CEO, Angelieri. The one thing that Edwards had got on his side that virtually the whole fans base is behind him and that Becchetti is rumoured to be staying well away from the club while the supporters protests gather momentum. This could actually give our new head coach a bit of leverage when it comes to doing things his way because if  there is any sort of  unwanted interference/’suggestions’ coming from the top gantry seats in the main stand it’s easier to fight them off with the owner keeping in the background and a bunch of angry supporters ready to back the coach over the idiots who have brought us to where we are now at as a club.

Listening to the excellent orient outlook podcast on Monday, it was put forward that all this unrest at the O’s would be put to bed by one solid managerial appointment that moved the club on and that Becchetti was only one decision away from it. I’d totally agree with that, but it’s also ironic that the president’s last one bordered on suicidal and Andy Edwards appointment as 1st team coach has the appearance of the last throw of the dice for Becchetti. If this doesn’t work out – for whatever reason – where the hell does it leave both him and the club? A team on the verge of relegation with a massive debt hanging over it isn’t what I’d describe as a saleable asset and would our owner really hang around if the unthinkable happened and the O’s dropped out of the the football league?

As for Edwards it’s a massive gamble career wise. His work at this club is one of the bright spots -probably the only one- here over the past three years and now he’s wading into the minefield otherwise known as ‘running the Orient 1st team’ he is risking all that for a punt at management. The last youth team boss to arrive in the post in similar circumstances was a certain John Sitton, who later confessed that it was an opportunity that he’d wished he’d given a swerve to at the time with hindsight.

Nevertheless, I’ll wish Andy Edwards and Danny Webb every success because they  have the credentials and deserve a run at the job at a time when the stakes here couldn’t be higher and club morale couldn’t be lower.

 

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The picture that you can see at the top of this article was taken after the  home game involving Leyton Orient and Luton Town last Saturday afternoon. As ever, this sort of protest has divided opinion amongst the Orient support. I’m sure the people behind it will explain that it’s borne out of a genuine concern as to where the owner is taking the club, while others will argue that it’s not helping the current situation and we should be backing the team over 90 minutes come what may.

No matter what your stance or view on the protest or indeed the running of the O’s we have seen an ever growing rise of discontent  from supporters with their club owners all over the football league. Clubs such Charlton, Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers and Coventry city have all witnessed massive protests at their respected stadiums at various times during the past two years regarding how their respective clubs are being managed. In  Coventry City’s case a hedge fund who are on the brink of having the club kicked out of their home for a second time in four years and are negotiating to sell its training facility for housing in a cool £12 million pounds deal.

Despite this, though, unpopular regimes are still in place and the upshot of all this being that supporters groups are still pretty powerless to influence club policy unless they possess a serious financial backer or amount of  cash currency, no matter how many plastic pigs get thrown onto the pitch during a game.Which I suppose brings us back to the title of this missive.

There has been a lot of debate on Orient forum about what financial shape Orient owner Francesco Becchetti will eventually leave the club when he finally calls it a day as owner at Brisbane Road. Now at this point let me say that there is no indication that he is looking to walk away or sell the club anytime soon, which makes this as good a time as any to talk about making some plans for when or if he does.

Now I think it’s fair to say that I am not a fan of our esteemed president and I’d offer the opinion that his reign has been a lesson in how not to run a football club straight from the off going back to September 2014. However, on a strictly football on the pitch basis, you can’t entirely rule out that at some point something could turn positively and we’ll head in the right direction with all the unrest over that time becoming a distant memory. This happened even under Barry Hearn, although it took the best part of two decades and a lot of mediocrity along the way.  The x factor is what the scenario will be financially as the club debt racks up. Becchetti has had a sporting dalliance once before – in Italy – with a handball side that became successful under his ownership only to collapse after he left soon afterwards and maybe therein lies the lesson for us. Orient are in the same boat with Franco as we were with Hearn in that if they either walked off or dropped down dead tomorrow what the hell would happen then?

It’s been 21 years from ‘Club from a fiver season’ and what has changed or have we learned anything?  Are Leyton Orient any better prepared now than we were to at least buy the club some time in relation to carrying on in a financial crisis?  I think the honest and probably obvious answer is; ‘No’. Mainly because there appears to be this assumption that ‘somebody will always ride to the rescue’. In my book that view is based on what happened in 1995 and what people are forgetting are two things.

1.The club has no assets at all, it doesn’t even own it’s own ground and we are now mere tenants in regard to the stadium we now play our football.

2. Whatever debts we had back in 1995 when the famous ‘we couldn’t even pay our milk bill’ quote was aired  by Barry Hearn it won’t be a million pounds, they will run into the £10’s of millions. There seems to be a fanciful notion that Becchetti will just take a financial ‘hit’ and walk away but this just appears on the doubtful side of wishful thinking or if we are being a little more blunt, breathtakingly naive.

In the event of the financial shit hitting the fan (pre or mid season) what can be done to at least keep the club going in the short term? Going by what happened in 1995 the PFA would pay some of the wages of the players but Orient would need to find money just to host  matches at the ground and fulfil our league fixtures. One thing that has come out of the recent unrest at football clubs appears to be the complete apathy shown by the football league to the situation although they seem more visible when it comes to punitive measures such as points deductions for it’s members when they enter administration or fines for clubs such as Blackpool over the match v Huddersfield that had to be abandoned at half time. I don’t think we’ll be seeing much in the way of help or support from the EFL if it came down to it quite frankly.

So I suppose that our main hope in the short term would be to mobilise various supporters groups at the club. Have the official supporters club or LOFT (supporters trust) put any money away for an emergency? All I am saying is at this point is that if there was 50-100k saved since 1995 we could at least say that orient could fulfil some fixtures (ground rent/ stewarding ,paying for away coaches for the players,etc) while a fight to save the club was ongoing. Even now, some money put in a high (well, what passes for high in the 21st century) interest account could raise a decent wedge in two years if it was planned and supported in the right way.

LOFT appear to have some sort of contingency plan and people with decent financial knowledge should that happen but not much in the way of cash to facilitate it. We as supporters have had time to raise funds but appear not to have done so even though the  club almost collapsed twenty years ago and the warning  signs have been around for a long time since then. Maybe it’s time for a joint fund raising effort from both LOFT and the supporters club to at least give us a platform to keep Orient alive whoever the owner is or whatever the scenario regarding Leyton Orient’s future appears to be. I know that the supporters club have always took a neutral stance in club affairs -and that’s fair enough – and LOFT are looked upon as a talking shop and not much else, which is more than a tad unfair. What needs to be looked at is the the future of clubs at our level and how we can continue without a major financial backer if it came down to it. There is an AGM being held by LOFT on the 10th of November and I think that this proposal should at least be seriously discussed. It would also give them a lot more credibility, in my view anyway.

What is clear is that after our experience of 21 years ago we haven’t really thought about what happens next time this scenario rears it’s head and most people connected with the O’s have taken the Wilkins Micawber line of ‘Something will turn up’. But that’s is sort of the point. When trouble hits then it’s usually a race against time to raise funds which invariably mean that we are starting off from a weak position when it comes to affecting a positive outcome – I’m not advocating buying the club or even making a 999 call to Andrew Lloyd-Webber (he’s gone ex-directory after the last time) here but at least having some way  of keeping the club going even as a Ryman league side if it came down to it.

The bottom line is doing nothing as a collective support isn’t an option anymore if you want the O’s to have a future. It’s time to mobilise.

 

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So Andy Hessenthaler has gone the same way as the previous six head coaches to have worked under the Becchetti regime. Not much of a reward for having your arse kicked twice by your employer (once metaphorically and once in actuality) and losing a lot of your own credibility along the way to the eventual sack.

To be honest I’m not shedding many tears over this. I think the standard and style of play that he has brought to the team was no better than the one we endured under Ian Hendon and certainly the defending from set play’s has,if anything, gotten worse. Even allowing for the undoubted interference coming from the owner regarding who is signed, given a first team start or even ostracised from the squad I think Hessenthaler was a poor choice who took the job on the basis of getting a pay rise at the expense of playing the stooge for his boss. Andy knew the way things worked here and had eventually (maybe naively) become part of the wider problem at this club – in that a total and utter disregard for the employees who work at Leyton Orient F.C (which has festered from the moment Becchetti and his henchmen walked through the door here) has permeated through to the playing staff and eventually into the stands. Hessenthaler going into post game interviews and coming out with utter tosh in regard to players ‘being unavailable for selection’ just legitimises the crackpot way Bechhetti has tried to run the playing side of the club’s operation when in effect his coaching qualifications run to six empty Peroni bottles on a matchday afternoon.

Now it has to be admitted that what we have witnessed over the last three weeks regarding Cox being controversially given a free transfer, the announcement of three unknown foreign signings and the crowd turning on the owner (at the end of the horrendous home defeat to Yeovil Town) have all occurred at some stage under the last owner, Barry Hearn, in the past. However, if the owner is now in effect ‘director of football’ then we have indeed arrived at another level in the circus that has engulfed this club since July 2014. Becchetti and to a lesser extent  Miceli and Gagliardi seem to believe that their decision making is above question when two out of that trio don’t have any sort of background in league football in any country. More pertinently, the team and club haven’t moved forward one inch during all the upheaval that they have instigated here since they arrived.

I would dearly love to see our  operations manager and head of recruitment go online or take out three of four pages in the club program to outline Orient’s recruitment strategy and how they intend to work with any head coach at this football club. At least we could all see what they are trying to achieve here and maybe more supporters who are now seriously questioning what is going on at this club could be a little more understanding  to what their reasoning and rationale behind the decisions they have taken to bolster the playing squad are. Because if they don’t, or are too frightened to make some sort of disclosure without Becchetti’s rubber stamp, then we can only assume that they are making club policy up as they go along, or actually agreeing with whatever their boss dreams up this week. Which appears to be the case as it stands.

Unfortunately, Mr.Becchetti’s answer to to any sort of problem appears to be ‘Fuck you, I’m in charge’ an attitude that  has brought us to where we are now and resulted in the unsavoury scenes of ten days ago in the main stand. I should think that his display on the balcony underlined his true attitude to the followers of  this club and those unfortunate to work for him. It is a projection of utter disdain and one that would put any half decent manager off of working for him or the club. Luckily for Franseco, this is football we are talking about and by the time you get to read this I should think that 50 C.V’s  from prospective candidates for the managerial vacancy here would have arrived in Angelieri’s in tray (only to be ignored for two weeks going by his reputation) already. Why? Because there are always people out there who will do the job under any circumstances knowing that the club pays well and they will get a payday either way. Hopefully, somebody who knows what they are doing will come forward and get something like some consistency from what still is a very decent looking squad here. My Choice would be  former Wolves and Millwall boss, Kenny Jackett. He’d still be a fool to take it, though.

 

 

Orient’s comic book hero

Posted: September 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Some of you may have come across a book entitled ‘Football’s comic book heroes’, which takes a nostalgic wander through the pages of British comics from the past 60 years and the characters that were brought vividly to life within their pages. Many of us are familiar with the likes of ‘Roy of the Rovers’, ‘Hot shot Hamish’ and, of course, ‘Billy’s Boots’.

However, thanks to a chance find at a boot sale it seems that Orient- or to be more accurate ‘Clenton Orient’ had their own star player in the shape of a Tibetan monk by the name of Sulo. Who could well have been brought here by virtue of Gagliardi’s contacts in the Himalayas and would be just the sort of character that Mr. Becchetti would like to see in our squad. That is until he becomes ‘Not available for selection’ for some reason or other I should think.

So it’s back to the pages of  ‘The Victor and Hotspur’ from February the 28th 1981 and the story of ‘The team of the dragon’. Click on the link below and enjoy

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Lofc v Mauro Milanese

Posted: August 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Former O’s director of football Mauro Milanese brought an unsuccessful court case against his former employers last spring. We’ve reproduced the minutes of the case here. It’s pretty lengthy but stick with it, some of the details are pretty eye popping-even for the O’s. Click on the link for the judgement.

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