Orient defender lauds Edinburgh's impact on year anniversary
PUBLISHED: 13:00 29 November 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
Left-back Joe Widdowson explained how the O's head coach turned the club's fortunes around in the space of 12 months
A year ago today Justin Edinburgh was officially appointed Leyton Orient head coach and what a difference 12 months makes!
When the former Tottenham Hotspur full-back took over, he walked into a group of players void of confidence and without a National League win in 14 matches.
The O’s had just lost 3-0 at relegation rivals Torquay United and were fortunate to be three points above the relegation zone.
Orient’s turnaround since November 29 2017 has been remarkable and the praise deserves to be shared around, but a big chunk of credit has to be given to Edinburgh.
Joe Widdowson, who plays in the same position his manager did at left-back, has essentially been an ever-present under the O’s head coach.
He was part of the team who could not buy a win under Steve Davis and he is now a regular in a side top of the table after losing only once in 22 games in the National League this season. It has been quite the transformation.
Widdowson said: “He has made a massive, massive difference and I probably don’t have enough time to go through everything.
“For me if I had to say one thing which stands out – it is his man management because he creates relationship with players and trusts players and encourages and motivates everyone.
“He gets the best out of every individual whether you are playing every week, in and out of the team or not involved at all – everyone feels part of it and valued and respected by the gaffer.
“For me that’s the main thing he brought from day one and that helped boost morale and boost performances. I think you can see we play for the manager and trust in him and he has created the collective belief amongst the squad.
“There are lots of other things he has done in the time he has been here which has helped to take us forward, but for me his man management is top drawer.”
Edinburgh’s record in the National League with Orient reads - 46 games played: 24 wins, 14 draws and eight defeats.
A grand total of 73 goals have been scored by the O’s in the same period and plenty of them have been crackers.
It is in defence where a real difference was initially made with Orient shipping goals left, right and centre in their first few months in non-league.
Once Edinburgh arrived it stopped and the introduction of Dean Brill as goalkeeper was key, but the whole team view things differently now.
Defending is not down to the back four – it is the job of everyone and Widdowson paid tribute to Macauley Bonne plus Josh Koroma, Jobi McAnuff, James Dayton and James Brophy.
He added: “Something he demands from the whole team is for everyone to defend. We all work hard right from the top of the pitch because you see how hard ‘Macca’ works up there and our wide-men too.
“I don’t think any other wingers work as hard as ours, so it is all over the pitch. We press in numbers and work for each other.
“He has created team spirit and we have all bought into it and I think everyone has seen gradual progress since he took over.”
Edinburgh has turned around a sinking ship at Orient and while he celebrates a whole year in charge today, others deserve praise as well.
Coaches Ross Embleton and Danny Webb have been key and the backing of Nigel Travis, Kent Teague and Martin Ling deserves a mention too.
On Tuesday night O’s were held to a goalless draw by Aldershot Town, who for the large part frustrated the leaders.
Last season it may have resulted in boos at full time and perhaps even at the start of this campaign.
Yet it feels like the majority of supporters are quietly optimistic for the first time in a long, long while.
The fans can see the club and Edinburgh have a plan. Of course a defeat at home to Gateshead on Saturday and the current equilibrium will be affected a touch, but the O’s know what they have to do against a Heed team they are familiar with.
It will be the sixth meeting between the sides since October 2017 and Orient will be desperate for a victory.
“We played some good stuff at times against Aldershot,” Widdowson said. “I don’t think we were at our best, but we played well in patches.
“I think our attacking players in recent weeks have been excellent – people like Josh, ‘Macca’, Jobi and ‘Dayts’ so they have been key to creating goals at the top end of the pitch.
“Things didn’t come off, but we will remain positive and look forward to the weekend because it is a point in the right direction.”