Leyton Orient captain McAnuff is fully focused on playing his part this term
- Credit: Archant
Leyton Orient Jobi McAnuff insists playing football is very much still his main focus as he returns in a player/coach capacity after signing a new one-year-deal at the club.
The 38-year-old spent majority of last season on the coaching staff as he was side-lined through injury but he is keen to get back out on the pitch and play a big part in the upcoming season.
Although he did reveal he has been enjoying different activities away from the club in his spare time like for example appearing on Sky Sports News to cover matches across the country.
“In the end it was, I had a chat with Lingy (Martin Ling) and Ross (Embleton) a few weeks ago, and they were very keen for me to play a part in things moving forward as was I,” McAnuff told the club website.
“Sometimes when you get to 38, that’s not always your decision, so clearly from that point of view it was a real positive discussion and then it’s just been a matter of sorting a few things out given the current climate we’re in and making sure everything was right for all parties.
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“I’m obviously at a stage in my career when there are other things going on that I do enjoy doing away from Leyton Orient, but at the same time, this is very much my focus and I want to still play a role certainly on the pitch which I feel I can do.
“For me that’s my main priority and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to extend that perhaps if my main focus wasn’t on that.”
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The former Jamaican International only made one appearance last campaign due to a long-term injury and that was in their 2-1 win over Cambridge United in the final match before the season was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m feeling good, obviously last year as everyone knows was very frustrating, it took a while to get to the bottom of what the real issue was and once I had the second operation in November and did all my rehab I felt good.
“I was back training for quite a while before I finally got back on the pitch, unfortunately that was the last game before lockdown, and everything that has happened.
“I’ve just been trying to make sure I’ve been keeping myself ticking over, I worked hard to get back to that stage, and I’ve got a lot of work to do again to get the level I want to get to that allows me to play a big part and that’s something that is very important.
“I don’t want to just be a bit part or just be here for the ride, I want to contribute, and that’s a big thing for me.
“I’ve worked hard to maintain it, just looking forward to pre-season now, if you can actually look forward to pre-season,” he smiled.
Although focused on playing his part on the pitch, the former Reading captain wants to keep learning in terms of coaching.
“It was something I really enjoyed and gave me something in those di in those difficult times in terms of not being able to be on the pitch, it kept me involved.
“Match days were massive as that is something you do miss when you’re injured, but doing the bits behind the scenes, working with the lads on the training ground.
“I really enjoyed the individual stuff, small units, where you’ve really got the time to work with those players.
“It was all fantastic learning for me, obviously with Ross, who was fantastic and the rest of the coaching department.
“Certainly something I want to keep on doing, keep on improving, keep learning and hopefully be available to juggle that a little bit easier this year in terms of being available to play more than I was last year.”
The midfielder also feels the O’s are extremely lucky to have a very similar squad heading into the new season with so much uncertainty surrounding football especially in League Two.
“I think it’s massive given the amount of uncertainty around football in general, particularly at our level with the impact that Covid-19 is going to have moving forward.
“There will be a lot of clubs that have already had to release a large portion of their playing staff, so that is going to be a challenge away from here, fortunately we don’t have that.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Nigel Travis and Kent Teague, and all the board in terms of how they’ve gone out of their way to make sure all of their employees, not just the footballers have been looked after as much as possible.
“Certainly from our point of view as players we really want to repay them for that and I think by having a group together is good.
“I compared last season to the first season I came, it was a re-building job after everything that had happened, and it was a real tough season to overcome the things we had to.
“We’ve now got that as a base and for me we can really use that to push on this year, which is certainly something we’re looking to do.”
The club have sold more than 2,500 season tickets and sold more shirts than last season already and the club captain wanted to say his fans to the Orient faithful.
“My experience with the fans is particularly since I’ve been back has been blown away by their dedication to the football club, even through some real days during my first spell and when I was away from the club.
“They’ve backed this club to the hill, ever since with the numbers that turn up every week, the travelling support and to see the response to this has been incredible.
“Shirt sales we’ve already done more than last season’s total, season tickets when we’re not even exactly sure when people are going to be coming into the building, again people not asking for refunds and allowing that to stay within the club.
“They’re all things that don’t go unnoticed by us, and they’re all things we’re aware of, and we’re incredibly grateful for that support to help the club ticking over and hopefully we’ll help keep it stable in the longer-term.”