Leyton Orient blog: Cautious optimism required with new ownership under Nigel Travis and Kent Teague, but it is great to have our club back!
- Credit: Archant
O’s supporter Sam Churchett gives his thoughts on events taking place at Brisbane Road over the last three weeks
The 22nd of June 2017 is now a significant date that will make the Leyton Orient FC history books.
After much speculation it finally happened, the takeover of the club was completed by Eagle Investments 2017, led by lifelong fan Nigel Travis and American businessman, Kent Teague.
Following three seasons of suffering, the Orient fans finally had something to celebrate and since the takeover the supporters have basked in regular communication from the club.
One of Orient’s greatest assets during the magnificent 2013/14 season was its social media platform and fan interaction. An element it seems the new consortium is keen to reinstate going forward.
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The return of Martin Ling, Matt Porter, David Mooney and Danny Webb have shown the consortium’s acute awareness of what they think the club needs and what the fans want.
A special effort has been made by the new management to reiterate the message that they are focussing on the long-term future of the club. This comes hand in hand with a warning to the fans to not expect instant success.
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A message the Orient fans must take seriously despite all the recent excitement. The past month has reinvigorated the fan base but this must be treated with a pinch of reality. Positive days are surely ahead and the future of the club is bright, but fans should be prepared for a harsh and hostile welcome by teams in the Vanarama National League.
A difficult division with promotion only guaranteed for the best side. For Leyton Orient, a club in the process of rebuilding and likely to have an incomplete squad for their first test away to Sutton United, the challenge is huge.
The owners have done a fantastic job of appointing people who can provide stability, but stability is not achieved overnight. Supporters must go into the new season with cautious optimism and back the team regardless of the initial results.
The consortium’s first appointment, a man they see providing that stability, was Martin Ling as the new director of football. A man who knows Leyton Orient inside out and fully appreciates the owner’s philosophy of building from the bottom up.
Like all Orient supporters, I am a big fan of Martin Ling for the part he has played in Leyton Orient’s history so far and for his great character.
Martin’s mental health issues over the past decade are well-known and he has faced this problem head on in the media with honesty and dignity. For that he deserves plaudits for bringing light to a somewhat taboo subject in football.
Since leaving Orient as manager in 2009, Ling has held positions with other clubs but for no longer than a couple of years and he is now tasked with integrating a five to ten year plan at Brisbane Road.
Not at any club, but a club where he has a fantastic personal connection, which finds itself in non-league for the first time in its history and harbours big expectations for success.
During an interview with BBC Sport in April 2014, Ling stated that he fully felt he had the tools to cope with his depression. However in December 2015 he was forced to resign as Swindon Town manager after only 7 weeks in the job due to health reasons.
I wish Martin all the best at the club and would love to see him be a part of multiple promotions and success over many years. I would love for Martin to show the sporting world that success is possible for other professionals who find themselves fighting a similar battle.
Many roles remain unfilled at the club and none so more important than that of head coach/first-team coach. The position remains vacant since Omer Riza was told the job would be opened up to applicants for the new season.
We are assured this is one of the top priorities for the club but wisely the decision will not be rushed. The fans have their own opinions on who should be appointed, one idea amongst the many being for the reinstatement of former manager Ian Hendon.
Hendon was sacked following a run of four wins in 21 games with the side sitting 11th in League Two.
With rumours of interference from former owner Francesco Becchetti being validated, some believe the former Orient defender deserves another bite at the cherry.
However, my concern rests with his previous signings. It is difficult to blame chairman interference on subject given the obvious connections the players had to Hendon’s time at other clubs.
Players such as Connor Essam and Blair Turgott were never able to live up to Hendon’s expectations in the Football League.
With Hendon’s relationship with the fans rocky at times, it would seem prudent to leave links to darker days in the past where they belong, and to move forward with a fresh manager who can form a positive relationship with the fans.
Whoever it turns out to be, experience of the division will prove vital when the O’s plan their escape upward out of the National League.
How much time will the new manager be given to succeed? How many opportunities will Martin Ling himself be given to produce the right formula and will he exclusively have control over hiring and firing managers? Only the next season or two will reveal the answers to these questions.
With the interview process ongoing and Travis suggesting a head coach could be announced this week, Ling continues to make good progress constructing the Orient squad in preparation for next season.
With the initial signings of David Mooney, Jake Caprice, Joe Widdowson and Charlie Lee, he has added vital experience to the side following the departure of many senior pros, to the anger of some supporters.
Whilst it is understandable to feel disappointed with the likes of Callum Kennedy, Liam Kelly and Gavin Massey exploring their options at other clubs, I find it difficult to blame them.
Even with new ownership, the players have their careers to think of and likely only retain a bitter taste in their mouth regarding their time at Orient.
This also frees up wages and provides the opportunity to introduce new players who have a full appreciation of the task at hand and can inject fresh enthusiasm and positive morale into the squad.
Kent Teague pointed to the fans support on the 6th May in Blackpool as one of the deciding factors for investing in the club.
A statement on his twitter feed said: “...thank you, to all of you who proved that Orient has the most passionate & devoted fans in football.”
For this, the supporters should feel extremely proud of themselves, just as I was to be part of that crowd facing their club’s imminent relegation.
Every O’s follower should appreciate the power they hold as a collective when they stand united and long may it continue heading into this new chapter.
Shout it from the rooftops. We’ve got our club back. Now let’s help push Leyton Orient back up the leagues to where it belongs.
Up the O’s.