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What next for Leyton Orient and their talented academy after Danny Webb’s exit

PUBLISHED: 11:00 30 March 2017

Leyton Orient defender Myles Judd looks to win the ball back against Grimsby Town (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient defender Myles Judd looks to win the ball back against Grimsby Town (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

Andy Edwards, Richard Thomas and Danny Webb have all left Brisbane Road in 2017

Andy Edwards (centre) looks on with Danny Webb at Doncaster Rovers in November (pic: Simon O'Connor).Andy Edwards (centre) looks on with Danny Webb at Doncaster Rovers in November (pic: Simon O'Connor).

In the space of four months, the three people mainly behind Leyton Orient’s talented academy have all left the Brisbane Road club.

Andy Edwards, Richard Thomas and Danny Webb have played a significant role in nurturing the youth in E10.

Edwards first moved to Brisbane Road in 2009 and oversaw major changes in the way O’s ran their academy.

Thomas arrived at a similar time to Edwards and the pair helped Orient make forward strides off the pitch.

Back in 2011, the Premier League initiated a scheme called the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

Edwards’ role changed from being the under-18s manager to overseeing the whole programme from 18-year-olds through to nine-year-olds.

Andy Edwards left Leyton Orient on January 29 a day after their 2-0 defeat at Mansfield Town (pic: Simon O'Connor).Andy Edwards left Leyton Orient on January 29 a day after their 2-0 defeat at Mansfield Town (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Thomas was with him every step of the way and the result was several immensely talented youngsters progressing through the academy.

Moses Odubajo made his mark on the first-team while several others have gone on to enjoy success elsewhere.

Danny Webb arrived at Orient in 2014 as under-14 coach and most of the teenagers in the senior set-up now have progressed with the 33-year-old.

The likes of Myles Judd, Josh Koroma, Sam Dalby, Steven Alzate were all nurtured under the watchful eye of Webb.

While a manager departing Brisbane Road is a common occurrence now, the real worry is what happens to the academy.

Thomas left to join Kevin Nolan at Notts County in January while Edwards resigned during the same month to take up a role with the Football Association.

Notts County manager Kevin Nolan alongside Richard Thomas (centre, left) at Brisbane Road last month (pic: Simon O'Connor).Notts County manager Kevin Nolan alongside Richard Thomas (centre, left) at Brisbane Road last month (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Webb was the last of the trio still at O’s and now he feels his only choice is to walk out of Brisbane Road.

Orient’s academy has been a shining light for a long time while the first-team have long struggled with no stability.

Peter Gill has been managing the under-18s since Webb stepped up and called on Omer Riza to assist him.

But with Webb gone and Riza now appointed as first-team manager until the end of the season, Gill could himself get a promotion.

Orient’s first-team has been struggling for a long time and it unfortunately looks like the academy might go a similar way soon.

With Webb at the helm, you sensed he could have got the best out of the O’s youth following this harrowing season.

He knew the teenagers who could crack it at National League level and would have be able rotate them accordingly.

Orient also have several second-year scholars currently waiting to find out if they will earn a professional contract.

It seems the club could lose a lot of them now with no guarantees over the long-term future at Brisbane Road.

Meanwhile the current crop of youngsters in the first-team will be wondering what the future holds for them.

Even though Riza has the job now, the likes of Judd and Koroma could play under another three or four managers next season.

It is a hugely worrying state of affairs and the latest exit from Orient only makes the future even more concerning because nobody knows the long-term aims of the club.


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