Orient boss insists they can reach the Championship

19:00 22 January 2016

Kevin Nolan (left) speaks to then West Ham manager Sam Allardyce with Ian Hendon in the background (pic: Anthony Devlin/Press Association Images).

Kevin Nolan (left) speaks to then West Ham manager Sam Allardyce with Ian Hendon in the background (pic: Anthony Devlin/Press Association Images).

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Kevin Nolan admits the Brisbane Road outfit offered him a challenge he couldn’t turn down

Kevin Nolan believes he can take Leyton Orient into the Championship, but admits first they need to make baby steps.

The 33-year-old signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the O’s yesterday to become player-manager at Brisbane Road.

After spending the majority of his career in the Premier League, the former West Ham United captain has taken a job in the fourth tier of English football.

But he firmly believes he can get the east Londoners promoted to League One and then promoted once again over the new few seasons.

Nolan said: “I’ve got 15 years of experience of what it takes to hopefully be successful and I’m quite confident I can have as good a career in management as I have as a player.

“I have a two-and-a-half year contract as playing as well as managing and I certainly hope it’s not just for two-and-a-half-years. I hope it’s going to be for a bit longer than that and we’re aiming high.

“The reason I was gutted more than anyone that Ian Hendon lost his job was because they hadn’t won in so many games and were slipping down the table.

“I’ve come in and as you have just heard before it’s about getting into those play-offs and trying to push to get us back into League One and then hopefully push on to try to get into the Championship.

“As you can see with the facilities - the club has got everything. It is baby steps first and then we’ll get into our stride hopefully in a year or two, but I’m looking forward to this challenge.”

Orient’s aim at the start of the current campaign was to get promotion, but at the moment they are 11th in the League Two table.

Tomorrow they face a Wycombe Wanderers team that are in the play-off positions – three points above the O’s having played a game less.

But Nolan is determined to get the east Londoners out of the bad position they currently find themselves in, adding: “We’ve got a talented squad and I’ve spoken to the boys. They all agreed they are in a bad position for the quality of squad we have got, but now it’s time for them to stand up and be counted.

“With the backing I am receiving from Francesco Becchetti, I am going to be bringing players in to make sure we have people in each position to challenge for places.

“If you haven’t got anyone behind you snapping at your heels you are going out very comfortable on a Saturday. I don’t want that and want to make sure they are right on it.

“They seem to be on it at the moment and in the two days in training, they have all been great so I’m really looking forward to the experience tomorrow.”

Nolan will take charge of his first match at Wycombe this weekend and he concedes he couldn’t turn the Orient job down.

Everything about the offer suited him and he will be using the experience of assistant manager Andy Hessenthaler as well.

Hessenthaler has been a player-manager before and Nolan is keen to get as much help as possible from him.

“Obviously training with the lads and being around the club and the area for such a long time, knowing how big this club is and being in League Two it was a challenge which in the end, when I was discussing it with family, I don’t think I could turn away from,” added the O’s boss.

“I’ve had such a career at the top level. I’ve had three promotions with three teams when I’ve been playing and as a captain. I had a good number of offers from clubs abroad and things which weren’t really concrete, but we didn’t really get going.

“This just gave me that little bit of a buzz and I thought I fancy a bit of that. I am just glad that I have made this step in this direction, but I’m still going to be playing.

“I am really looking forward to trying to manage that and I think obviously we have Andy Hessenthaler who’s done it before at Gillingham. He’s a big positive to have just to see how he did it and learn from what he would call his mistakes and learn from how he handled it all.

“It is something I am really excited about and something I am really looking forward to. It is something I am going to put every little ounce of effort I’ve got in to make sure I am a success.”

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