Why Fabio Liverani had to leave Leyton Orient
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO
O’s correspondent George Sessions looks back on the Italian’s time at the club and explains his downfall
Leyton Orient confirmed this afternoon that Fabio Liverani had left his position as manager by mutual consent alongside assistants Maurizio Cantarelli and Marcello Donatelli and unsurprisingly the news was met with joy.
After relegation was confirmed on the final day of the season following a 2-2 draw with Swindon Town at the County Ground, O’s fans called for the Italian to leave.
The 39-year-old insisted at the time he would not resign and in previous weeks had stressed how he was looking forward to planning for a season during the summer and having the ability to bring his own players to the club.
But for followers of Orient, president Francesco Becchetti could only do one thing and that was get rid of the former Italy international.
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In post-match interviews and on the one occasion I spoke with Liverani at the training ground, he seemed a pleasant man and most accept he is probably a likeable guy.
Unfortunately for him, however, he hasn’t been a likeable manager and no doubt his decisions in charge of O’s have played a huge part in seeing them fail to avoid relegation this season.
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He won just eight of his 27 matches as manager and oversaw 13 defeats – a shocking statistic for a team that was made up of virtually the squad that reached the play-off final last year.
Although Liverani wasn’t helped with many of his players suffering injuries, questions have to be asked about his tactics, team selection and handling of players.
In his 27 matches he kept the same starting team just once. His constant tinkering to the team without doubt contributed towards his dismissal and the club finishing 23rd.
When speaking to Ryan Hedges last week, who spent four months on-loan at Orient from Premier League club Swansea City, the youngster claimed that he came back too early after appearing for Wales under-21s.
The 19-year-old said he would learn a great deal from his time at Brisbane Road, but it seemed the handling of him after he returned from international duty was poor.
He played the full 90 minutes on Tuesday March 31 for Wales and then come on just before the hour mark, the following day, for O’s against Coventry City.
Five days later he started against Gillingham as well and Hedges openly admits he has struggled with a knee injury since returning from international duty.
Liverani should have managed the teenager a lot better and that is just one of the many failures he had whilst in charge of Orient.
The use of some of his players was incredibly strange at times. He played Lloyd James against Gillingham and then failed to select the influential midfielder for a single minute in matches against Crewe Alexandra and Doncaster Rovers.
In addition to this Luke O’Neill, who had impressed after joining on-loan from Burnley, failed to feature throughout April before starting against Swindon on May 3.
Jay Simpson was another player that started on the bench for numerous matches when the team was crying out for some pace. These are just a couple of examples but many more could be used.
The final day of the season was a perfect illustration of how Liverani’s tactics weren’t up to scratch too. O’s were looking good for an hour against Swindon – leading 2-0 before the hosts pulled one back.
Unsurprisingly the Robins upped the ante a bit but Orient didn’t need to be negative at that stage, especially considering they were playing against a second string side.
But Liverani went defensive from the 4-3-3 formation that had been working well by bringing on Scott Cuthbert for Dean Cox.
The result? Swindon won a penalty and secured a draw despite having 10 men for 70 minutes of the match. It was a shocking way for O’s league campaign to conclude, but a fitting finale.
It was the classic end for Liverani too, but it is crucial the club get his replacement correct. In a statement, following his departure, the club said they are “rebuilding for next season, in the hope that we can make a swift return to League One.”
They also commented they will “not underestimate the challenge that we will face in the coming season, but the players and staff will work together to achieve the success that our loyal fans deserve.”
A positive is O’s have got the decision on Liverani right and acknowledged next season will not be a walk in the park. Now they must appointment the right manager.