It was an impossible job admits former Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards
PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 June 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
Former O's Academy Director reflects on his two-months in charge of the first-team at Brisbane Road and what he had to deal with
Former Leyton Orient boss Andy Edwards has opened up about the difficulties he faced during his time as manager of the Brisbane Road club.
The 45-year-old first moved to O’s in 2009 and spent seven years in the academy set-up - going on to achieve great success.
Edwards was promoted to assistant manager in the summer of 2016 and by November had been appointed permanent boss at Orient.
It was a job the ex-Peterborough United captain had always wanted, but several factors made it hugely challenging.
By the end of January, just two months after his appointment, Edwards decided to end his time with Orient and accept an offer from the Football Association.
The local resident hoped O’s would somehow beat the odds and avoid relegation, but they finished bottom of League Two.
And to make matters worse, players and staff had to wait until April 25 before receiving their wages for March - 26 days late - and April’s wages were briefly delayed as well.
Edwards said: “It was disappointing to see the club relegated, but the writing was on the wall really.
“It became an impossible job for anyone to keep them up and that’s not being disrespectful to the players that were left there, but you had a number of players who clearly did not want to be there and knew their futures were elsewhere.
“You also had a group of youngsters who gave absolutely everything, but as I said at the time, when I was managing, individually the youngsters had a part to play, but collectively it was too much and that is exactly how it panned out.
“When you then see people not getting paid it says a lot about the owner doesn’t it? It was just a dreadful situation.”
Edwards had plenty of issues as manager and it was the same for his predecessor Danny Webb and Orient’s final boss of the campaign Omer Riza.
After spending so much time at the club, Edwards was desperate to be the man to lead them away from danger.
He felt he could achieve that following his appointment, but a lack of support from O’s chairman Becchetti didn’t help.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Leyton Orient,” said Edwards. “I did have a number of opportunities to leave over the years, but I declined them because I was happy.
“But I think it is quite obvious to see during the tenure of a number of managers that very little support was being given.
“Ultimately as a manager you are judged on the players you bring in and I was not allowed to do that.”
Edwards initially improved Orient’s results, guiding them to important wins at home to Accrington Stanley and Crawley Town in December.
A last-gasp draw against Cambridge United on New Years Eve added to the positive vibe at Brisbane Road.
But behind the scenes things were not easy with Jay Simpson on the verge of leaving, which left Edwards short of options.
Orient’s leaky back four was also a cause for concern and it was clear to any observer that reinforcements were needed.
Edwards had drawn up a list of targets and had players ready to come in and help O’s in their survival quest.
Becchetti failed to give him the green light, however, and to make matters worse, Alex Cisak, Callum Kennedy, Tom Parkes and Jordan Bowery were transfer listed.
Although some of the aforementioned players had disappointed, the move to put them in the shop window was made above Edwards head.
It made a difficult job even tougher for the third Orient manager of the season and after a run of four straight defeats, he resigned.
Edwards added: “We had a number of players lined up to come in during January, which would have been well under the previous budget, but it wasn’t allowed to happen.
“I am convinced those players would have kept us up, so it became very difficult as managers before and after me found. It became impossible to do the job.
“You are judged on players you bring in and you try and get the best out of people, but when players get put on the transfer list against your will when you are trying to create a team spirit it is absolutely impossible.”
One of the criticisms of Edwards’ reign was his pragmatic style of football with Orient not so easy on the eye during his tenure.
But when you consider the crisis of confidence the squad was suffering plus all the other issues at Brisbane Road, the former Academy Director deserves some leeway.
O’s scored only eight goals during Edwards’ nine games as permanent boss, although they were without Liam Kelly during that period and Jay Simpson only played three times before signing for MLS outfit Philadelphia Union.
The football under the 45-year-old was always great, although had he been given support and not had his squad disrupted, he may have produced a better style of play.
What seems likely is that if O’s third boss was allowed to do his job and bring in the players he had lined up, then the east Londoners would still be in the Football League.
We will never know if that would have been the case now, but Edwards’ legacy should not be his tough stint as manager – it should be the number of youngsters he developed and right now those players will determine how Orient’s future is shaped.