7 April 2012

The Opposition View - Leyton Orient

In a first of a new feature on this blog, I've been asking lifelong Orient fan Matt Simpson about his side. He's written the book Leyton Orient Greats and since 2010 has been running the blog View from the West Stand. Here are his responses, very interesting they are too...

After narrowly missing out on the play-offs, are you frustrated how this season has panned out?

Matt Simpson
"Frustrated isn’t the half of it. During the summer we managed to hold on to the key players who’d made the previous season such a success and added what should have been extra quality to the squad (Jamie Cureton, I’m looking at you), so hopes were high. But it’s been a truly awful season and, given our current form, we’re going to be lucky to avoid the drop. Injuries haven’t helped (we’ve used six goalkeepers this season, for example) but over and above that most of the summer signings have underwhelmed, we lost top players in the transfer window, our loan signings have mostly been abysmal, our tactics have been overly cautionary and Russell Slade seems to have no idea what his best team is or how they should play."

Speaking of Russell Slade, what are your thoughts of him and is he the right man to take the club forward?

"Slade was brilliant for us last season: he made some great signings and instilled a real fighting spirit in the team. But this season he seems pretty much clueless, as demonstrated by his erratic approach to loan signings, team selection and tactics. Assuming we fluke a win somewhere in our last five games and manage to stay up, I’d give him the start of next season to pull things together again, but if we start like we did in 2011/12 – three points from our first 10 games – he’s got to go."

What were Jamie Cureton’s performances like for you and why didn’t it work out for him?

"We were pretty excited about seeing Jamie Cureton in an Orient shirt, especially after the season he’d had with you guys. But Brisbane Road has some sort of ancient curse hovering over it that renders previously prolific strikers impotent once they arrive here. To be fair to Cureton he wasn’t exactly getting any service, but at the same time he wasn’t snapping up the few chances he was getting. Unfortunately front men like him rarely prosper at Orient – he’ll probably score 30 for you next season!"

Are you worried about the future of the Olympic Stadium?

"The Olympic Stadium is a worry, it being a stone’s throw from Brisbane Road. Assuming West Ham eventually move in – which is against Premier League and Football League rules by the way – there are a number of concerns. Of course no Orient fans are going to switch allegiance to the Hammers – we’d rather try to trim our own toenails with a chainsaw – but there is the question of the future generation of fans. Given that West Ham can’t fill Upton Park most weekends, they’ll need to be very ambitious to sell out a 60,000-seater stadium. As part of their initial bid they talked of aggressively targeting local schoolchildren with discounted tickets, for example. Location is obviously one of the factors that determines which football team young people end up supporting, so it would be incredibly na├»ve to think that having another club so close wouldn’t affect Orient."

Who do you regard as the standout players Exeter have to be wary of? 

"None of them. But former Charlton man Matthew Spring has been one of the few players to have performed consistently well this season and if he gets enough of the ball he can control the midfield. Our goalkeeper Jamie Jones is a bit special but has just returned from a year on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. Dean Cox, meanwhile, has had something of an indifferent season by his own very high standards, though in terms of class he’s still head and shoulders above the rest of the team. Which is ironic given he’s only 4ft 11in."

Finally, your predictions?

"We are in absolutely dire form with zero confidence and it’s hard to see where any point is going to come from for us. Having said that, we retain the ability to randomly pick up results away from Brisbane Road so you never know. I would say whoever scores the first goal will win."

- Exeter V Leyton Orient takes place this Monday (Easter Monday) and is a 3pm kick-off at St James' Park.