Leyton Orient facing a massive fight to stay in the Football League after awful 2016!
PUBLISHED: 14:00 20 January 2017
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I looked back on the last 12 months at the Brisbane Road club for our ‘Year in Sport’ pull-out this week
A year is a long time in football, especially if you are a fan of Leyton Orient.
Cast your mind back to January 21, 2016 and Kevin Nolan had just been appointed as the O’s player-manager.
Fast forward to now and Nolan is the new boss at Notts County, who are a direct rival of the Brisbane Road club in the battle to survive in League Two.
The word relegation is something Orient certainly didn’t expect to be speaking about in 2016, but as they look ahead to this year – staying in the Football League is their biggest aim.
Whatever way you look at it, the last 12 months have been terrible for O’s, although it wasn’t the case in February and March.
Nolan’s appointment brought fresh energy to east London and initially he took to management like a duck to water.
Fine 1-0 wins at Portsmouth in February and Oxford United at the start of March offered a glimpse of how good Orient could become under the former West Ham United captain.
A tricky spell followed over Easter when O’s lost back-to-back games against Accrington Stanley and Hartlepool United, but still sat in eighth position.
Two more bad results occurred at York City (1-1) and Barnet (3-0 defeat), yet Orient were only two points off the play-off places.
And then on April 12 came a staggering decision from the League Two club to ask Nolan to concentrate on playing instead of managing.
The result? Nolan never played for O’s again and unsurprisingly the east Londoners missed out on a top-seven finish after Andy Hessenthaler couldn’t rally a shocked set of players.
After ending the campaign with a 1-0 win at Yeovil Town, Hessenthaler admitted he was “unsure” if he wanted the main job at Brisbane Road. But on June 3 he agreed a deal to become O’s manager and, a few days later, Nolan left by mutual consent.
There was optimism during the summer despite the fact several experienced players departed Brisbane Road, such as Mathieu Baudry, Lloyd James, Jobi McAnuff and, shockingly, Dean Cox on September 1.
Hessenthaler made over 10 additions with the help of head of recruitment Rob Gagliardi, but very few have worked out, despite Orient signing various players with promotions on their CVs.
The likes of Robbie Weir, Tom Parkes and Jordan Bowery have struggled in east London. Meanwhile, Yvan Erichot, Ulrich Nnomo and Jan Jense have yet to show they are capable of adapting to life in League Two.
Gavin Massey, Callum Kennedy and Liam Kelly have impressed, but by the time the latter suffered a torn hamstring in October, Hessenthaler had been sacked and replaced by Alberto Cavasin.
It was a shocking appointment. O’s lost eight of his 10 games and confidence deteriorated so badly, they are now in a battle to remain in the Football League.
Andy Edwards has been left to pick up the pieces and saw Jay Simpson move on recently with many more expected to follow, but he has no money to spend.
President Francesco Becchetti confirmed he is looking to sell the club, so what happens next is anyone’s guess. Orient’s immediate future seems very bleak!