Michael Clark owes so much to old Leyton Orient boss Danny Webb
PUBLISHED: 15:00 02 June 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
Former Brisbane Road manager helped teenager earn first professional contract at O's
Michael Clark has paid tribute to former Leyton Orient manager Danny Webb after helping the teenage central defender sign his first professional contract.
The 19-year-old made his debut for O’s in February against Cheltenham Town and went on to make a further eight appearances for the east Londoners.
Webb gave Clark his first taste of professional football and despite leaving the club on March 30, the academy graduate was full of praise for his old manager.
“I owe so much to Danny and it was him who offered me my first pro deal as well. I am really grateful to him for giving me a chance,” said Clark.
“He gave a lot of us youngsters an opportunity that we probably wouldn’t have got under any other manager. All of us young boys really appreciate the chance he gave us.”
The departure of Webb at the end of March was a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of Orient’s squad and especially for the likes of Clark and other academy graduates at Brisbane Road.
Webb was manager of the O’s youth-team during the 2015/16 campaign before stepping up as part of the first-team last season.
He wasn’t the only coach with links to the academy who made the decision to depart the club during 2017.
Orient’s former Academy Director Andy Edwards moved on in January to link up with the Football Association and Richard Thomas left his role as under-18 boss to join Notts County during the same month.
Both had spent over six years at O’s before departing and Clark admitted it was tough to see so many key figures exit E10.
He added: “It was hard to see Andy and ‘Thommo’ leave and especially because since I have been at the club I have worked with them a lot.
“I learned a lot from them both, but now they have gone on to do better for themselves.”
The lasting legacy of people like Edwards, Thomas and Webb is the current talented crop of youngsters at Orient with Clark part of that group.
If O’s can find stability with a new owner in the near future then the teens at the club could flourish and help bring the good times back to Brisbane Road.
Nothing would make Edwards, Thomas and Webb more proud than to see players they have nurtured from a young age enjoy success, but for that to happen Francesco Becchetti must leave.