Orient have let Nolan down when he needed to be backed

Leyton Orient player-manager Kevin Nolan on the touchline at Barnet with assistant manager Andy Hess

Leyton Orient player-manager Kevin Nolan on the touchline at Barnet with assistant manager Andy Hessenthaler (pic: Simon O'Connor). - Credit: Archant

O’s correspondent reacts to news that Andy Hessenthaler has taken over first team duties in the interim

Leyton Orient president Francesco Becchetti watched the first half at Oxford United with the away fa

Leyton Orient president Francesco Becchetti watched the first half at Oxford United with the away fans (pic: Simon O'Connor). - Credit: Archant

It felt like a case of déjà vu last night when reports started to circulate that another Leyton Orient manager was about to lose his job.

All of a sudden it was like being back to January 16 after the Exeter City match when head coach Ian Hendon was about to learn he would be departing Brisbane Road.

This time it was Kevin Nolan apparently set to suffer the same fate and on this occasion it is all the more remarkable.

As it turns out, the former West Ham United captain has been asked to focus “entirely on his playing contributions” and let Andy Hessenthaler take over the first team in the interim.


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It is an incredible lack of faith towards the 33-year-old who has achieved a number of impressive results since taking over at the start of the year.

Orient have won at Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth and Oxford United. Yes they have lost games and recently more than they would have liked, but how does Nolan remain at Brisbane Road in the long term now?

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He wasn’t having the impact on the pitch that he wanted, but displayed a huge amount of class and grace off it and represented the club brilliantly. Now he has been completely betrayed.

The scouser is ambitious, desperate to do well and made it clear in his first press conference at the club that the reason he joined O’s in January was because he could manage and still play.

One of those aspects has been taken away because all of a sudden things began to get tough on the pitch – a sticky patch occurred for a manager in his first job, who would have thought that?

But Orient had no divine right to beat Hartlepool United, York City or Barnet – three clubs fighting to finish the season strongly.

And Nolan is working with players that aren’t his, he has been unfortunate with injuries and suspensions and key incidents haven’t gone his way lately either.

He has shown promise, though, by winning seven of his first 15 matches in charge and therefore despite this current run of one point from a possible 12, he needed to be backed.

It was a bold move to appoint the ex-Newcastle United skipper, given his lack of managerial experience, and now O’s have made it backfire by acting in this manner towards a player that captained a Premier League club last year.

Nolan cannot play for another club this season, but could manage another team if given the opportunity and he has been linked with his old side Bolton Wanderers.

But whether that would suit his family life right now remains to be seen. What is certain is that he has been put in a terrible situation.

During the short time I have got to know him, I have been so impressed with his honesty and his determination. I can assure any Orient fan that he is so desperate to succeed at Brisbane Road.

I’m not sure he can now and that isn’t down to him, but a decision made by the powers above Nolan to take away his managerial duties with just five more matches remaining of the campaign.

The problem with this decision, and the statement put out on behalf of chief executive Alessandro Angelieri, is that so many questions remain. One of the most prominent being what happens next season?

Does Nolan carry on as manager? Well he can’t really because he will live in the constant fear that if he has a bad three weeks he’ll lose his managerial duties again.

Is Hessenthaler given the job full time? If it isn’t him then what young, ambitious manager would be willing to become O’s manager knowing how quickly the president will act if things aren’t going right.

What experienced manager would want to take over knowing the pressure from above will be almost unbearable and even if success could somehow be achieved, Francesco Becchetti might then set unrealistic aims.

Nolan said after the Barnet defeat on Saturday that he would learn a lot about his players and himself this week. What he learned was that when the going gets tough, the Orient board aren’t willing to back him which is quite frankly staggering.

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