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Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Inside Line: Leyton Orient (11/02/2014)

A more traditional ‘Inside Line’ returns following last week’s Lee Johnson interview, and I’m delighted to welcome Andy - @OrientMeatPie on Twitter – who gives us the insight into the season’s surprise package, Leyton Orient, ahead of our delayed trip to the East End.

Leyton Orient are the story of the season in League One...no, in English football in fact, this season.  What's the secret to the success you're having and how has it felt to be an Orient fan this last year?
Russell Slade puts it down to picking good players and keeping the squad together that has gradually gelled into an excellent unit over time. We have a good blend of youth and experience and it’s really paid off this season.  We’ve finished 7th twice in the last 3 seasons, so it we’d hoped to make it into the top half, although Orient have typically had a poor season following a good season the year before.

We’re normally slow starters too, so our remarkable first half of the season has left us all bewildered as much as anything, although it’s been brilliant to have been so dominant for the so long. However, we’re all realists and know that it may not last with a small squad and modest budget. Irrespective of how we finish, we’re proud of what has been achieved so far!

Can 2014 possibly match 2013's incredible success?
Possibly. Injuries and suspensions have caused a blip in our otherwise amazing form, but provided we can keep the squad together and avoid any more serious injuries (Jamie Jones, 3 months or Shaun Batt, out for the season) we may be OK. We have brought in good loans and signings o sustain a promotion push.

Fewer than five weeks have gone by since an entertaining draw at Ashton Gate, how has Orient's form been in the last few games, results have possibly been as shaky as at any time in the last 12 months, but you seem to have picked back up recently?
We had a wobble, mainly due to injuries and suspensions. Top scorer Mooney, injured and suspended, Vincelot injured v Wolves, Jones out for 3 months, Batt out for season, Omuzusi suspended etc. It’s been a tough time for most teams, but smaller squads suffer especially badly at Christmas/New Year.

Nevertheless our spirit is outstanding so we’ll pull together and push through it, which has been reflected in a brilliant January where we’ve managed to continue to get some outstanding wins (Crewe away 2-1, Carlisle home 4-0, Shrewsbury away 2-0, Coventry home, 2-0)

With transfer deadline day just having passed, which player(s) did you have locked in a room until the transfer window closed?
Moses Odubajo (our young winger who came through the youth team-number 11), Elliott Omuzusi, full back) and Romain Vincelot. All have been critical to our success this season.

And how was business for you? Did you add strength to the squad, and which (realistic) player would you have loved Orient to sign, perhaps the final piece in the jigsaw to seal promotion?
Russell Slade did a great job bringing in keeper Eldin Jakupovic who featured prominently in Orient’s unbeaten January run, but had to go back to Hull as their keeper was sent off and they needed back up.

Ex-Rangers and current Stoke midfielder Jamie Ness has extended his loan until the end of the season, while quick strikers Loza (from Norwich) and Shaq Coulthirst (from Spurs) have provided a spark off the bench and competition for places.

The best signing, however, was Chris Dagnall from Barnsley, who bagged two on his debut at Crewe. With the deadline day permanent signing of Marvin Bartley from Burnley and our deadline day signing of keeper Ben Alnwick from Charlton, we look in good shape for the games coming up.

Are you going to go up? If so, who with. If not, who'll pip you to the post?
Maybe. Three of us (Brentford, us and Wolves) are pulling away from the pack now and nobody is fading. I’d say play offs at worst. Wolves have an insane budget for this league and have just splashed out £750k for Leon Clarke. I’d expect us, Brentford or Preston to sneak into the other spot. MK Dons, Walsall and Rotherham to be around the play offs as well.

You recently wrote a really interesting post for the Two Unfortunates outlining the risks of having an owner dead set in providing you with your 'dream' move to the Olympic Stadium. Is it something you, and the majority of O's fans, want to happen or are there too many concerns?
There are concerns over multiple issues, such as suitability for the stadium and Barry Hearn’s intentions and the long term vision of the club. If we move, the likelihood is that we will end up in a similar position to Coventry within 10 years, without any control over where we play. The scary part is that like most football clubs, we are operating thanks to Barry Hearn’s goodwill to a large extent.

It would be great if you could point your readers that are interested to the blog I wrote and the Stand up for the Orient campaign on Facebook, here: 

Bearing in mind we’ve recently lost 3-1 at both of the other top sides, is that score-line you can see being repeated?
We’re on a good run at the moment. This may be the kiss of death, but yes, I’m going to say 3-1 to us!

Have a look at my Match Reports on http://www.leytonorientblog.com/ for our January performances!

No doubt Orient will once again provide City with a test, following their recent chastening experiences (to different levels) at Wolves and Brentford. At least once it’s over we know we don’t have to play any more of the top sides this season!!


The Exiled Robin

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