Why there’s still hope for Orient


Andy Edwards – www.zimbio.com

Following Andy Hessenthaler’s departure, Leyton Orient have had seven managers in the last 24 months, so one can see why some view the job as a poisoned chalice. Francesco Becchetti’s interferences with team selection and lack of trust in his managers have been a factor behind the club’s decline.

However, this blog would argue that interim manager Andy Edwards now has a good opportunity. He is a well-respected figure at the club and positive early results will give him some political power over Becchetti.

If Edwards stands his ground on issues such as team selection and focus turns to the pitch, Leyton Orient are capable of pushing for promotion. Awful performances against Yeovil and Notts County have called the team’s fitness into question but the individual ability is there.

Alex Cisak’s fitness and command of his box has been criticized lately, though he can be a decent shot stopper and has briefly played at Championship level with Burnley.

Right-back Nicky Hunt is considered to be one of Orient’s more reliable defenders. Left-back Callum Kennedy and centre-back Tom Parkes have not been great thus far, but both won promotion last year with AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers respectively. Yvan Erichot has looked error-prone alongside Parkes, leading some to call for Hunt to move across, which would entail a first start for Jens Janse.

Midfielder Liam Kelly has captained Oldham to a secure position in League One while Robbie Weir has helped Burton to successive promotions. The partnership of two ball-winners so far has led to a lack of forward movement in central areas, which suggests this is a position Edwards needs to re-think.

Despite Dean Cox’s exit, Orient do have good options out wide. Harry Cornick and Gavin Massey impress when confident and in the right position while Sandro Semedo is a bright young talent.

Despite a post-January dip, striker Jay Simpson was the second top goalscorer in League Two last year and excels with service to his feet. Competition comes in the form of Jordan Bowery, who scored key goals in Oxford’s promotion success, and Paul McCallum, who despite work rate criticisms has already scored six.

Three of the summer signings won promotion from League Two last season while another three played 35+ games in a higher league. The O’s have had a bad start, but if they can up fitness levels and play more football on the deck, they may put a run together.

It is still only September and the team is just four points off the top seven – five off the top three for the more optimistic fans – with some 37 games to go. Leyton Orient can still get there, but what the club needs urgently is leadership. Edwards might just be the man to provide that.