So with Andy Edwards leaving the club over the weekend, it would appear appropriate to ask the last man standing in E10, if he would kindly switch off the lights. What, indeed, is happening at Leyton Orient Football Club? The sad truth is, I don’t think anybody quite knows. Use any cliché you want, whether it be likening the club to a circus or an asylum where the lunatics are in charge, I’m sure you get the picture of just how sorry a state the club finds itself. The recent club statement, released by Chief Executive Alessandro Angelieri last week, only served to increase bewilderment amongst O’s fans. Whilst I just about give the benefit of doubt to their statement that their actions were always done in good faith, I find their labelling of the inherited squad as, being one ‘without future’, mindboggling at best and desperately disrespectful at worst. I left the club in 2013, with the club finishing 7th in League 1. As I’ve said before in previous blogs, it was gut wrenching to leave. Not only was I leaving a fantastically run club with a fantastic dressing room but more significantly, I was leaving a club on the verge of success. I was gutted I wasn’t going to be part of it.
We had a dressing room of seasoned professionals, experience and youth blended in equal measure. Players who knew the league and how to get results. Equally, we had a manager, in Russell Slade, who knew the league and how to get results. The ingredients were in place, it was just a case of putting it all together and that’s exactly what happened in 2014. The club led the division for much of the season with much of the same team that finished 2013, before finishing in the play offs and missing out on promotion through the lottery of penalty kicks. So close yet so far. Nevertheless, the club was in a good place, still very much on an upward curve and in possession of a dressing room of not only good professionals but good lads very much in their prime.
What happened in the initial months after the takeover sowed the seeds for the position the club finds itself today. To suggest that the inherited squad was in decline is utter nonsense. The majority of those same players are now, either plying their trade in a higher division or are fighting it out at the top end of League 2. It was the new decision-makers at Orient who destroyed the dressing room and ultimately destroyed any progress the club was making. Out went Russell Slade and in came players on silly wages with pea hearts, piggy backing on the success of others. In one fell swoop, all dressing room harmony was lost. A harmony that, in any sport, is priceless. The club’s key ingredient was gone and it is yet to recover. I very much doubt that the owners wanted any of this to happen. Why would they?
However, in sayin that you must seriously question their decision making skills, as through some ridiculous managerial appointments and poor player recruitment together with constant boardroom meddling and several off field distractions, the club now finds itself rudderless in League 2’s basement. I hope for the sake of the club and all O’s fans, in particular long serving kit man Ada Martin, that Leyton Orient retain their football league status. As Bill Shankly once said, “football is a simple game complicated by idiots”. I don’t think truer words were ever spoken but alas, at least all O’s fans can rest easy in their beds knowing that the owners of their beloved club have passed the Football League’s ‘fit and proper persons test’. Oh, what a sham.