Tag: Orient

Becchetti’s Managerial merry-go-round

Becchetti’s Managerial merry-go-round

Something a bit different for you today. I talk about all of Leyton Orient’s managers under the maniacal stewardship of Francesco Becchetti. Enjoy!

Russell Slade

Coming off the back of an incredibly successful 2013/14, Orient looked in very good shape under Slade. Fans were happy, players were happy and at the beginning Becchetti was happy to have Slade in charge. However, it turned very bizarre very quickly. Unlike the previous freak season, Slade and his teams usually start very slowly, this season being no different however this wasn’t acceptable in Becchetti’s standards. He was told by Mauro ‘I’m good at my job, honest!’ Milanese that he had a game to save his job, and a rejected approach by Cardiff despite the ultimatum rubbed salt into the gaping wound. As a result, Slade walked away from a club where he was adored and the club has deteriorated ever since.

 

Mauro Milanese

A familiar name to the QPR fans out there, as their former left back comes in to replace Slade. He was at Orient before, signing rather extravagant names for Orient’s stature on rather extravagant wages. One case of this is Andrea Dossena. Remember him? The guy who scored that free-kick for Liverpool to beat Man Utd 4-1 at Old Trafford? That Dossena. Signed by Milanese on a £7,600 per week wage, TRIPLE the wage of any player that narrowly lost in the play-offs the season before, but I digress.

Milanese as manager was about as useful as using a fork for soup, winning two games in his 6 week tenure as manager before he was also given the boot. Oh, and his attempts at claiming wrongful dismissal at Orient also revealed his attempts at unlawfully signing kids for the Orient youth team without parental consent, while making an earner himself. Classy.

Fabio Liverani

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Anybody who played the early incarnations of Pro Evolution Soccer on the Playstation may recognise this name. Liverani came in when Becchetti wanted to make Leyton Orient a brand in Italy and what better way to do that than bring in a 3-time appearance maker for the Italian national team. The only problem about that? He couldn’t speak a word of English. Aided by then goalkeeper coach and future professional recruitment bullsh*tter Rob Gagliardi in translation, Liverani tried to reverse the O’s fortunes and keep them in League One.

It didn’t help when Liverani decided to bring on loanee Ryan Hedges for 45 minutes the day after he’s completed a full 90 for the Wales U21s. It didn’t help when he dropped another loanee Luke O’Neill entirely from the matchday squad for a game despite being named man-of-the-match the game before. It also didn’t help where he persisted on playing Gianvito Plasmati up top and allowing established club icon Kevin Lisbie go out on loan. Things did not improve and Orient were relegated to League Two 12 months after being two penalty kicks away from the Championship, swiftly followed by Liverani’s sacking. Unbelievable.

 

Ian Hendon

But never mind, Becchetti had learned that he needed an experienced manager who knew the lower leagues inside out. Step forward Ian ‘He’s one of our own’ Hendon, a manager with bags of experience. Well…if you’re counting a 16-month spell at Barnet, then sure he’s experienced.

It was looking good for Hendon initially. Won the first 5 league games of the season and got fans confident on winning the league at the first time of asking (I was so confident I put £20 on it!). But alas as we have realised over the years, it’s never that simple at Orient. Performances started to slip, drawing more games than Mourinho’s United side, and the team had to endure a ‘morale-boosting’ trip to the Marriott hotel.

Cue chants of “We’re f*cking bored” at the home game vs Exeter and Hendon was shown the door by Signore Becchetti. He may have been one of our own but Hendon was eventually on his own.

 

Kevin Nolan

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Wait a second. THE Kevin Nolan? The Premier League midfielder who had over 400 appearances in the top-flight? That Kevin Nolan? Yes, after training with Orient to keep his fitness levels up, Nolan saw an open door for the most precarious managerial job in England and thought “I want some of that!”, eventually being appointed player-manager.

On the pitch, it was hardly flawless from Nolan’s Orient but he got them playing a hell of a lot better than we’ve seen at the club for a while, winning a whopping 7 of his 15 games in charge! However, off the field there was problems with Nolan and Becchetti. Becchetti removed Nolan from managerial duties to focus on playing while Nolan wanted the vice versa if anything, while rumours of Nolan’s work ethic away from the club didn’t do him any favours, Nolan was to never appear for Orient ever again.

Not to forget Nolan drunkenly trying to start a fight with youth players at the end-of-season Star Man awards. Oh dear!

 

Andy Hessenthaler

A bit of context is needed here. When Hendon was in charge, Becchetti decided to infiltrate the technical area in a drunken tirade (Surprisingly common at Orient). What happened next? He ended up kicking then-assistant manager Hessenthaler up the backside, getting himself a £40,000 fine and six match stadium ban. Yet Hessenthaler got the manager’s job 4 months later!

Like Nolan, Hessenthaler won 7 games in a near identical record to Nolan. The start of the 2016-17 season wasn’t terrible by any means although having to watch Gagliardi’s greatest Football Manager hits on the pitch every week became an eyesore for every fan going. Again, rumours of interference and a *cough* strenuous relationship with Becchetti resulted in Hessenthaler’s dismissal in September, 6 weeks after the beginning of the season. Gone in the blink of an eye.

 

Alberto Cavasin

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Where the bloody hell did this one come out from?! Alberto Cavasin, an Italian manager who couldn’t speak a word of English (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?), and a manager who hasn’t managed a club since being relegated from the Serie A with Sampdoria back in 2011, ended up trying to steer HMS Orient away from the lower end of the league. Did it work out? This is Orient, so of course it didn’t. This was a man who actually believed that Zan Benedicic and Jens Janse had an ounce of footballing ability, a man who had to use ex-Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa’s son to translate for him in training and at post-match interviews, and a man who somehow managed to make performances even worse than under Hessenthaler earlier in the season.

So after a measly 53 days in charge, a period which covered 2 wins in 10 games and included a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Sheffield United, Cavasin was too shown the door. At least he left us with a parting message, which was nice of him.

 

Andy Edwards

At this point, Becchetti clearly couldn’t be bothered scouring the depths of the Italian Lega Pro for the next Antonio Conte wannabe, so he plumped for someone who knew the club inside out in Andy Edwards. Did fortunes change? Not a chance. Orient’s manager was a man who learned his coaching craft in the youth team, a developer, a nurturer. He wasn’t used to telling Ulrich N’nomo that you have to shoot to score and not do stepovers every 10 seconds. He had his rare moments of glory as well, like his wins over Crawley and Accrington as well as the latest of last gasp equalisers at home to Cambridge, but like his many predecessors it was to no avail.

When Edwards resigned to take a role at the FA’s youth setup, there wasn’t much anger in the voices of O’s fans. He earned his respect amongst the fans, especially as the club was in the midst of a serious crisis. I’d imagine in the future when Orient is back to becoming a dominant force in E10, Edwards would be welcome back with open arms by the fans. Andy Edwards: Brilliant youth team coach, not so brilliant first team manager. I’ll leave you with this ‘fun’ fact about Edward’s reign as manager…

He won as many games as Cavasin. I bet you didn’t know that one!

 

Danny Webb

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Some say he was an estate agent from Romford, some say he was a Billericay used car salesman. All we know is that Danny Webb was next in the hottest of hot seats at the Orient. Chosen by his proximity to Becchetti at the time and not for managerial experience, Webb was given an impossible task. No funds to buy any players, seeing first teamers exiled and even forced out of the club and a reliance on youth teamers to keep Orient in the Football League.

But he got the players working hard, something Orient fans haven’t seen since the Nolan era. Results wise, he got was expected considering the vast majority of his team was playing youth team football at the start of the season. There weren’t good moments, like the 5-0 massacre at Accrington Stanley on a Tuesday evening, the 3-0 defeat at Crawley which I insist is the worst performance I’ve ever seen from an Orient side (Bold claim given I’ve watched a 5-1 home defeat to Yeovil!), and the frantic finger-pointing that we’re used to seeing on Strictly Come Dancing.

However given our plight, the good moments were incredible. A 4-0 battering of Newport County on a rugby pitch is up there (especially as Newport fans were chanting about Webb’s coat being from Poundland), but THAT Valentines night in Plymouth, coming back from 2-1 down after 88 minutes to win is up there with Cox’s free-kick vs Peterborough in my greatest Orient moments. Webb even stood up to Becchetti’s madness! It may have resulted in him handing in his resignation, but at least he tried.

Danny Webb: The closest thing we’ve had to Stella McCartney at Brisbane Road. Although I did like his suit number at the Grimsby game.

 

Omer Riza

And now we’re left with Omer. Trying to save a club depleted of morale and wage, many points behind the dotted line of survival and an even more increased reliance on youth team players (practically senior pros at this point). An impossible job if there ever was one. But he tweets regularly about his ‘lions’ and also seems a really nice guy, so there’s always a positive!

It’s hard to judge Omer’s time as manager because he was given a rowing oar to try and steer HMS Orient away from the iceberg. Anything he tried was only for pride, but amazingly we had that even more in the end than we did at the beginning of Becchetti’s reign.

The curious case of Leyton Orient

The curious case of Leyton Orient

I’d like to dedicate my first blog post to something that is very close to my heart and has been for 15 years now. I remember being 7 years old and my dad, knowing I loved football, decided to take me to my first football match. The team we were going to watch? Leyton Orient.  Of course, for those that know Orient as much as I do, it would be hardly surprising to tell you they lost that game 2-0 to Shrewsbury Town, but I continued to follow them and eventually support them. 15 years later, that support has developed into a love for the club and for those who are in the know about Leyton Orient’s current situation, that love is being SEVERELY tested.

For those that don’t know the full situation, let me fill you in. In the summer of 2014, sports magnet and well-documented Leyton Orient fan Barry Hearn decided to sell his ownership of the club after nearly 20 years, during which he saved us from near bankruptcy. The gentlemen he sold the club to? Italian extraordinaire Francesco Becchetti, who made his millions from his business in waste management (The jokes speak for themselves!). He bought the club just after Orient were defeated on penalties in the League One play-off final, and saw a club destined for the Championship, if not even better than that. He talked the talk initially with some very extravagant signings in his first season at the club, with ex-Arsenal youngster Jay Simpson, Reading midfielder Jobi McAnuff and ex-Liverpool player Andrea Dossena all coming in on some very interesting wages, Dossena earning himself £8,000 a week! However, this honeymoon in the spotlight soon turned into the Nightmare on Elm Street very quickly. After 3 managers, including the controversial resignation of popular manager Russell Slade & a manager who couldn’t speak a word of English, Orient were relegated to League Two, 12 months after they were a penalty away from the 2nd tier of English football for the first time since the 1980s. Yeah…not a good look, but amazingly it gets worse than this.

The 2015-16 season was one of expectation. Many fans, including myself, were expecting the club to not only win promotion but to comfortably win the league, as we arguably had the best team in the league. Long story short, that didn’t happen. Just missed out on the play-offs in fact, although for the 2nd half of the season we were barely challenging. So surely in the 2016-17 season, again with one of the best teams in the division, we could finally be up there? Nope, that hasn’t happened either. In fact as I write this, we are hovering over the relegation places, our ‘star signings’ have failed miserably, on our 3rd manager of the season already, Becchetti is AWOL and apparently looking to sell, the fans are pissed off and rightly so, and our Football League status is arguably on borrowed time. It’s fair to say being an Orient fan is pretty miserable right now.

Becchetti and stability of the club aren’t exactly words that you’d associate in the same sentence. Reported estimates of £10 million debt for a League Two club that may be going non-league is an ENORMOUS no-no and if anything is just basic common-sense, regardless of having prior experience of running a football club. Having more managers at the club in 2 years than Barry Hearn had in 20 years is farcical, even worse by the fact that 2 of his appointments couldn’t speak a word of English. Banishing club favourites such as Dean Cox was borderline criminal in my opinion, especially if you have ambitions to get out of the division, a division we shouldn’t be in in the first place if Becchetti didn’t interfere with in the first place. Forcing the squad to stay in a hotel after a league defeat and even kicking the assistant manager up the arse in a drunken tirade. These are only a handful of episodes that have driven everyone associated with the club insane. And yet, a statement by the Chief Executive of the Club seemingly brushed aside all interference and blamed it purely on the squad not being good enough. Weird that, considering the club were a kick away from the Championship…

And here we are. As there are calls for Becchetti to sell up, fears of administration or even liquidation as echoes of AFC Orient are becoming more and more concerning, there’s me and my football club of 15 years. The club I grew up a mile away from for all my life, is being held at ransom all because of the mismanagement of a handful of individuals. But you know what? Even if the worst was to happen and Leyton Orient FC was to be wiped off the face of the earth, I’m still proud of what we’ve achieved, not only on the pitch but off as well. We’ve suffered the heartbreak of Wembley 3 years ago, but I’m still so proud of that group of players over-achieving by all of our standards and giving us the dream for that one season. When we took on Arsenal in the FA Cup and scored a dramatic equaliser to take them to a replay at the Emirates, that was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard Brisbane Road and frankly ever will. Off the pitch as well, the fans are without doubt the loveliest of folks you’ll ever meet. A ‘football community’ is often disregarded, but that’s what us fans are. Talk to the vast majority of fans from other lower-league clubs and there will be nothing but praise for little old Leyton Orient. The Trust has been a pillar of the local community for years and doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The Youth Academy has produced some fantastic players such as Moses Odubajo and will only get better with quality.

I love this club. From the bottom of my heart, I hope we aren’t seeing the final chapter of this historic club, because the fans don’t deserve this. The players and young up-and-coming prospects in the local areas don’t deserve this. But even if it is the worst-case scenario, I’ll still be rooting for the club, whether it’s Leyton Orient, AFC Orient or by some miracle we end up moving to France and supporting FC Lorient.

Up the O’s!