Former O’s boss Ling: Leyton Orient squad resembles promotion-winning team of 2005-06 season

Martin Ling during his time in charge of Leyton Orient. Pic: Barry Coombs/EMPICS Sport

Martin Ling during his time in charge of Leyton Orient. Pic: Barry Coombs/EMPICS Sport - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Former Leyton Orient manager Martin Ling believes the O’s are in a three-way race with Wolves and Peterborough for automatic promotion.

Orient currently sit second in the league, one point behind leaders Wolves and 10 in front of third-placed Peterborough.

And Ling thinks the O’s are in the running to go straight up to the Championship following their tremendous start this season.

“I’ve watched about six or seven of their games so far this season, and if I’m honest I think they’re a good a team as any in the league this season,” said Ling.

“I’ve been working for Dean Smith as his chief scout at Walsall, and the teams that have impressed me in the league are Orient, Peterborough, Wolves and Coventry.”

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“There’s no doubt about it they’ve got quality in their squad, there’s a group of about 15 players who are playing unbelievably well and are in the running to go straight up.”

The O’s have exceeded any expectations they had before the season started, with a record breaking eight wins from their first eight games this season.

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Despite being surprised himself, Ling feels Orient can build on their terrific start and get even better.

“I think if you asked the supporters and the management team they would say they are above where they expected to be at the start of the season,” he added.

“On the budget that they work off, I think they’re currently playing above their expectations levels.

“But the longer they stay top of the league or around the top, the more conviction you can see in the team every time they play.

“They’re very well organised, they know their jobs within a system.”

The last time Orient tasted the success of promotion was seven years ago in the 2005/2006 season, when Ling was in charge.

The O’s were promoted on the last day of the season into League One thanks to a late goal from Lee Steele.

And Ling admits there are some resemblances between his team seven years ago, and the current Orient team.

“I see a lot of similarities between the team now and the team that went up in the 2005/2006 season,” remarked Ling.

“We had two strikers in terms of Gary Alexander and Lee Steele that were on good form and the similarities trend when you look at Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney.

“We had men in the changing room that made sure the players coming into the club on loan understood the work we put in.

“And I think Russell Slade has instilled that ethic into his team this year, you can see the players work hard for each other.”

And Ling feels there are also similarities between himself and Slade, with both managers serving Orient for a long period of time.

“I don’t think there’s any coincidence that the most successful managers at Orient have been those who have stayed there the longest.,” he said.

“I was in the top five longest serving managers in the country, and Russell Slade is in a similar bracket now and I think there’s a common denominator between that.”

Ling was one of the O’s longest recent serving managers, with his time in East London spanning six years from 2003 to 2009.

After two defeats in the Third Division Play-Off Finals in 1999 and 2001, Ling ended Orient fans 36-year wait for automatic promotion in his third season.

And the former manager would love to see his old team get promoted once again.

“If they got to the Championship I think that would be absolutely wonderful for everyone concerned with Leyton Orient,” he said.

“And in particular Barry Hearn, who has been there for about 15 years, and thoroughly deserves it because he’s stuck with them all the way through.

“I’d love to see them get promoted. Leyton Orient is my club, I was there for 13 years as a player, youth team coach, assistant manager and then finally as a manager.

“I’ve always wanted them to do well and be a successful football club. When I see football results, they’re the first team I look for.

“For me it was my best time as a manager because it was a club that was very close to my heart.”

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