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Monday, 2 March 2015

The Inside Line: Leyton Orient v Bristol City (03/03/15)

It was the moment many, including myself, truly started to believe.

I’m not talking about the win on Saturday that put us an incredible 8 (EIGHT) points clear at the top, albeit with new likeliest challengers Preston have a game in hand.

No, I’m talking the win at the Matchroom Stadium last season when we actually looked like – and got the result that – a side who could do something in this division should be getting. Remember at that time we were still battling relegation, whilst Orient were flying high and aiming for an ultimately unattainable promotion, which made the result and the performance even more noteworthy.

A year on and the tables have very much turned. As mentioned before, City have bought exceptionally well and brought in a manager who is getting the very best from his bunch of players, whilst Orient have lost last year’s supremo and, whilst they have attracted some decent looking players, for one reason or another they’re clearly not gelling as the club would have hoped.

Having gone eight points clear at the weekend, this is an opportunity for City to strengthen their position whilst their three main promotional rivals all use up a valuable home game.

Stu Radnedge caught up with James from the Orient blog, Total Orient to find out what has been going on in East London this time around.

“When the O's travelled to Ashton Gate in August there was still optimism that Orient could have another good season. A point and a clean sheet against a strong Bristol City suggested that, despite the change in ownership over the summer, we could compete with the better teams in the league and perhaps challenge for promotion again.

However, since then the club has suffered more upheaval as the new regime have struggled to get to grips with running a League One football club and on the pitch the team have suffered a play-off final hangover. Instability, injuries and a lack of confidence have all contributed to our regression.

After a poor start, Russell Slade left the club to join Cardiff in September but his departure wasn't handled well by either party. Orient had already slipped towards the wrong end of the table and Slade's assistant Kevin Nugent and sporting director Mauro Milanese were not able to arrest the slide during their short stints in the dugout.

Being 19th in the league in December and already on our fourth manager of the season didn't look good. Former Italy international Fabio Liverani was appointed as manager. Despite a career in Serie A as a player, one win in seven games with Genoa was his only real previous experience as a manager, which hardly inspired confidence. He lost his first two games in charge but comfortable wins over fellow strugglers Crawley and Yeovil suggested that he could be the man to get the team out of trouble.

Any new found optimism was swiftly dampened, as Orient gained just one point in January. The situation was made even worse by media reports of turmoil behind the scenes.

It was beginning to look like Orient were destined for the drop. Performances were lacklustre and Liverani's ability to organise, motivate and communicate with his players was in doubt (in part due to the language barrier).

There are still some negative stories from time to time, but overall the mood around the club has become more positive over the last month. Three wins from five in February and consecutive clean sheets is an obvious improvement. Orient's recent performances have shown some of the same determination that characterised last season. If the O's can maintain the same spirit they stand a good chance of survival. The squad has the ability to stay up.

However, there's still a long way to go. Relegation would be a massive step backwards after coming so close to promotion last year and Francesco Becchetti's continued financial support would be vital. A club our size couldn't support wages reported to be in excess of £7,500 a week on our own and we would likely lose some key players and would therefore need to rebuild.

The O's have conceded first all too often this season. When chasing games, we often resort to playing more direct which doesn't really suit us. If we can get the opening goal and stick to our passing game on Tuesday we will stand a much better chance.

The use of two wingers has also played a key part in our last few victories. Swansea loanee Ryan Hedges scored his first senior goal at the weekend and has provided two assists in two, while Jobi McAnuff is finally playing to a standard that more closely resembles his ability. Dean Cox has been on the bench recently due to injury, but his goals and assists record in League One speaks for itself.

Orient's upturn in form makes defeat seem less certain than it would've looked a month ago. However Bristol City are top of the league for good reason and they are favourites for Tuesday's game, particularly given our poor home record.”

Huge thanks to James and to Stu for the report. Let’s hope there’s not another shock win in East London this time around.


The Exiled Robin

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