Edinburgh optimistic O’s can enjoy the success they so crave
- Credit: Archant
A piece from our Kick-Off pullout, where we preview the new National League season for Leyton Orient
Leyton Orient head coach Justin Edinburgh has many good traits, but the one I like most is the total confidence with which he speaks when discussing key issues.
When Edinburgh took over at O’s, back-to-back relegations was a genuine concern with the club on a barren run of National League form.
Orient had failed to triumph in 15 consecutive league games, but even a losing start away to fellow strugglers Solihull Moors failed to knock Edinburgh’s belief.
“I’m fully aware of the job I’ve been asked to do and I will do it,” said the former Newport County boss with supreme confidence in spite of a below-par first showing as O’s head coach on December 2.
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Edinburgh very quickly turned the tide and a final placing of 13th was very respectable, but now the focus is on the other end of the National League table.
Success is hard to achieve in this unforgiving division, but the 48-year-old has managed it before with Newport and believes he has the right characters in his squad to do well again.
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Edinburgh said: “I have some fantastic professionals and the experienced players are class. I can’t fault the players’ attitude and application towards all the things I have asked.
“If we can keep getting that this season, then we will certainly be looking to have the success we all want.”
Orient are one of many clubs in the National League dreaming of a return to the Football League with Chesterfield, Wrexham, Aldershot Town and Barnet all in the aforementioned category.
Then you have other sides who are seeking to reach the league for the first time like Salford City, Ebbsfleet United and AFC Fylde.
Given there are so many teams battling for first place, a title push may be out of the question for the O’s, but they believe they can be in at least the play-off mix.
“Only one team can win it – one out of 24 teams, so that’s a tough scenario,” said Edinburgh.
“We need to understand and be realistic of where we finished last season as well. To go from 13th to win the title would be a tall order, but we believe we can challenge for one of the play-off spots.”
One of the reasons why Orient feel they will be involved in the top seven this time around is the class they have in their squad.
Unlike last season when it did seem bloated with quantity over quality, this year Edinburgh has tough choices to make all over.
Dean Brill seems to be number one right now, but Sam Sargeant and Charlie Grainger are highly rated by the club.
In the full-back positions both Sam Ling and Joe Widdowson have young Myles Judd breathing down their neck while at the heart of defence, any pairing of George Elokobi, Josh Coulson, Marvin Ekpiteta and Dan Happe would do well for Orient this term.
Out wide, Edinburgh has a nice, but tricky decision to make over who should be left out from James Dayton, Jobi McAnuff, James Brophy and Josh Koroma.
New recruit Dale Gorman will provide the competition in the middle of the park alongside Alex Lawless, Craig Clay and fit-again Charlie Lee.
Then up front is talisman and main man Macauley Bonne – who netted 25 goals last season – and the likes of James Alabi, David Mooney, Matt Harrold and Ruel Sotiriou, plus Koroma if needed.
Edinburgh is blessed with quality all over the pitch then and said: “I really like the balance and size of the squad and the competition we now have.
“I think it’s the best group we’ve had since I have been here and there are a lot of challenging and posing questions for me regarding team selection going forward.
“Myself, the club and the players are in a better place compared to when I took over, but what went on last season we have got to pick up and take into this season.”
Given Edinburgh’s belief and drive, you would bet on him making sure Orient get what they deserve come April 27.