June 19 2013 Latest news:
By Trevor Davies, Leyton Orient correspondent
Friday, August 17, 2012
Our verdict on the season ahead
What a difference a year makes.
Twelve months ago Orient prepared to launch their League One season on a wave of optimism.
Fuelled by a fabulous FA Cup run and a surge up the league table that finally ended just a single point short of the play-offs Orient kicked off the 2011-12 campaign in a bouyant mood.
However, such optimism was short-lived.
Russell Slade’s side didn’t look to have a difficult start against the likes of Walsall, Wycombe and Tranmere in their opening three fixtures.
But after 10 games O’s were rooted to the foot of the table and had just three points to their name following away-day draws at Chesterfield, Colchester United and Huddersfield Town.
That start sabotaged any hope of success and a poor end to the season saw O’s slide back down and finish just one place above the drop zone.
Just six home wins left the supporters frustrated and now a new league season is about to kick-off with the fans seemingly expecting another season of struggle.
The new wage-capping system meant O’s boss Russell Slade’s hands were tied, as more than £300,000 was chopped off the wage bill and for much of the summer the squad looked wafer-thin.
But a sudden flurry of activity saw highly rated defender Nathan Clarke arrive after being released by Huddersfield Town, along with Lloyd James, Ryan Brunt and Ryan Allsop all in the space of a few days.
But just as the optimism started to rise, a series of poor friendly results left supporters pessimistic again.
Despite a tight budget, which led to the departure of Matt Spring, Slade was able to bring in most of the targets he had ring-fenced and six of the eight new signings started at Charlton on Tuesday and could do the same at Tranmere tomorrow.
So what can Orient fans expect this season?
It’s no secret that the Orient boss has been keen to tighten up a rearguard that leaked 75 league goals last season.
The capture of Clarke, who has been given the captain’s armband, should help. The prospect of him and Scott Cuthbert at the heart of the rearguard should strike fear into opposition strike forces.
And on the evidence of Tuesday night, Clarke, Cuthbert, Mathieu Baudry and Anthony Griffith all like a tackle!
Slade has also replaced Charlie Daniels and Stephen Dawson – their exits left a big hole in the team last season as the side slid back into danger.
The O’s now have a recognised left-back with Gary Sawyer joining in the summer and in Griffith they have a player who can break things up in midfield.
O’s look more powerful than they did last season and are a big side that should dominate at set-plays, but although they are likely to concede less than last term, scoring could be a problem.
Much will rest on the shoulders of striker Kevin Lisbie, but no Orient player since Peter Kitchen has scored 20 league goals in a season – and it’s hard to see that record being broken this year.
But, in many ways, the side looks a mirror image of the team two years ago.
There was a stack of summer signings – players like Dawson, Cox and Alex Revell who came in and made a huge impression.
Perhaps Baudry, Griffith and Michael Symes can do the same, first impressions are promising
The wage-capping system should even things up and Orient will be in the same boat as a whole host of clubs like Walsall, Tranmere, Yeovil, Hartlepool, Bury and Oldham.
It’s hard to imagine the side hitting the heights of two years ago.
But they should have enough to avoid another relegation scrap and cement a place somewhere in mid-table
It might not be pretty at times, but it should be a little less nerve-racking.