Why Carl Fletcher is the right man for Leyton Orient
Photo: Martin Belam, CC BY SA 2.0
Carl Fletcher has been given his second managerial job - almost seven years after his first one ended.
He takes over Leyton Orient at a time when the sadness over the death of former manager, Justin Edinburgh, is still felt at the club.
This may only be his second managerial role but Fletch has plenty of experience when it comes to working for a club in turmoil. In his early thirties, he was thrust into the hot seat at Plymouth Argyle following the sacking of Peter Reid.
The former Wales international took over during the most trying time in Argyle’s history as the club lurched from one winding-up petition to another and teetered on the brink of oblivion.
Fletcher signed permanently for Argyle as a player in the summer of 2009 but his experience in the centre of midfield could do little to stop the club’s downward trajectory. Consecutive relegations landed the Pilgrims in League Two and, after a poor start to the 2011/12 season, no wins in the first 11 games, Reid was relieved of his duties and Fletcher was installed as player-manager.
He made an immediate impact. Suspended after being sent off in Argyle’s 2-0 defeat at Southend the previous weekend, Fletcher was able to concentrate fully on his new role as he guided the Greens to a 2-0 win over Macclesfield from the comfort of the dugout.
There was more good news in October, a month during which Argyle won only one of their six games, when the club was saved by Devon-based businessman James Brent.
With the threat of extinction eliminated, the possibility of a third consecutive relegation and dropping out of the Football League remained a very real danger.
Fletcher eventually guided Argyle to a further nine wins and eventual safety that season. This was thanks in large part to a fantastic March, during which, Argyle won three and drew two of their six games.
Survival was a remarkable achievement for a man tasked with steadying a fast-sinking ship in his very first managerial role, especially when you consider the dreadful start Argyle had.
Fletcher’s departure came in January 2013 when, after a bad run of form, he was sacked. That's what one win in fifteen does for you...
The interview he gave, having been thanked for his service and shown the door, will live long in the memory of Argyle fans as the erstwhile manager struggled to hold back the tears when asked whether he had a future in the game.
'Sometimes you think is it worth all the hassle? All the stress and the late nights. I don't know,' he said.
Seven years on, Fletcher has decided that this was the right time and his opening game as O’s gaffer, a 4-0 victory over Grimsby Town, would have gone a long way to justifying that decision.
His second game in charge saw Fletcher return to Home Park where he was given a predictably warm reception by the home crowd.
The players were less charitable, though, and inflicted a 4-0 defeat on the former boss on Tuesday evening.
Having been promoted from the National League as champions under Edinburgh last season, Orient have more than enough in their squad to ensure safety; a task made easier given that, after Bury FC's demise, only one club will be relegated from League Two this season.
This season is very much a case of consolidation and recovery after the shock of Edinburgh's sudden death. There are few men more suitable than Fletcher for a role that requires tact, hard work and compassion. Argyle fans will testify to that.