Finishing just seven points above the relegation zone probably isn’t Barry Hearn’s idea of success, but the chairman will be delighted that Orient are still in the league.
Russell Slade is an experienced manager who will get the best out of his players that he can. All the controversy over the use of the Olympic stadium has probably saved Slade from an internal investigation into what happened last year, so he’ll be glad about that!
Jamie Cureton and Dean Leacock are among those to have left during the summer and the likes of Nathan Clarke and Ryan Allsopp have come in, so hopefully the fresh faces will give Orient a boost.
We caught up with O’s fan Matt Simpson (@West_Stand_O) to see what he’s hoping for this season.
How did last season measure up, compared to your expectations?
It took our expectations and threw them back in our face. After a seventh-placed finish in 2010/11 and the retention of key players there was a hope that 2011/12 would be a season in which we had genuine hopes of making the play-offs. Unfortunately due to a combination of injuries, tactical naivety and gutless performances (to cut a long story short) we only just escaped relegation thanks to the staggering ineptitude of the four teams beneath us.
Essentially manager Russell Slade has spent the summer signing up members of the Ukrainian Olympic weightlifting team – or at least that’s what it looks like given the 6ft-plus units that now make up our team. Still, if that’s what it takes to avoid another season of battling relegation then I’m all for it. There isn’t much guile in the team and presumably we’ll be looking at some loanees to fill the gaps.
Play-offs would be incredible, but after last season I think mid-table mediocrity would be fine.
What would be your worst nightmare?
Relegation, of course.
Dean Cox was the catalyst for our amazing 2010/11 season and is the classiest footballer in the team. He wasn’t quite as effective last season as Russell Slade repeatedly played him at the top of a diamond instead of on the left, and it was easier for opposition teams to snuff him out. But he remains a key player. At the back the partnership of Scott Cuthbert – player of the season for 2011/12 – and new skipper Nathan Clarke will also be vital. Up front, we’ll be looking to Kevin Lisbie to actually stick the ball in the net. Someone has to.
Ben Chorley spent the majority of last season finding other players to blame for his own mistakes and is presumably on his way out. Most fans would be happy to see the back of David Mooney too, whose mastery of the art of football is akin to a three-year-old trying to copy the Mona Lisa.
Russell Slade’s had one amazing season with us, and one abysmal one. The jury’s out…
MK Dons’ Jabo Ibehre – a cult hero at Orient and still gets a warm welcome.
One-time Orient player Gary Alexander, now playing for Crawley, has displayed a real lack of class since leaving us, getting into ridiculous Twitter spats with fans and giving us the full ‘cupped ear’ treatment when he’s scored against us.
Brentford and Crawley.
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