A Year In, Edinburgh Lets Us Into Orient's Brave New World

Justin Edinburgh takes a reflective pause before giving his answer. Madness or masterstroke was the question on the lips of during Leyton Orient fans this summer.

“Admittedly it could have gone either way,” said the manager.

“I just saw something in the players and decided that we’ll be a bit different. I knew why. Maybe some of the supporters weren’t as sure, but I thought it was the best way forward for the club.

“No other club does it. I just thought it was a chance we had to take.”

Edinburgh rolled the dice and his numbers came up.

While every club - even title winners - will add a minimum of four players ahead of every next season, Orient didn’t.

It’s even more surprisingly that he stood by a group which for most of the previous nine months had been treading water. At one point it seemed the unthinkable may actually happen and they could get sucked under.

A year and a week on from his appointment, it became obvious quite quickly that the ship had been steadied.

Then came the summer. The decks, many expected, would be cleared. They were wrong.

Pretty much every player remained with the club, with just two joining.

“I’ll tell you what convinced me to do that, it was two things,” Edinburgh said ahead of this weekend’s live BT Sport game with Boreham Wood.

“It was the way the players, once we were safe from relegation and moving the right way, worked. Many clubs once the season is done go into a lull. They didn’t.

“They did well to get themselves up the table but those final six or seven weeks they didn’t come off it, not once. It registered with me.

“There was another reason too. The club had be in turmoil for a number of years. Last year was the first under the new ownership.

“I understood that. It’s all very well people saying ‘what’s gone on shouldn’t have any impact on performances’ but trust me it does. It’s unnerving, and there is always a hangover from that. People need time.

“Fans wanted wow signings, they always do. But we had a young side with ability. They needed to be kept together and coached.

“They have been outstanding. Did I ever think we would be in this position? Absolutely not.

“But once you get given a chance you don’t run away from it, you don’t get scared - you thrive off it. That’s exactly what the players have been doing.”

Four wins from five National League game has cast aside any suggestions Orient would wilt under the pressure of a title race after a torrid and testing three years.

“We hadn’t won a game in 16 when I came in so did I think a year on we would be where we are? Not a chance.

“We are overachieving but don’t think we are playing things down - even if it is surprising.

“I’ve taken a lot out of this year and the main thing from a personal point of view is that I have started enjoying management again.

“I have got the buzz back and that is a big thing. It’s an up-and-down business as everyone knows but it couldn’t have gone any better this first 12 months.”

Boreham Wood on BT Sport this Saturday will “want to cause a headline” the Orient boss says.

“I like the way they play and have a lot of time for what they achieved last season,” the former Gillingham, Newport and Northampton manager said.

“I don’t think they have quite got going yet but they will - they have some very good players.

“They will see it’s us next and fancy it. When they click into gear they are going to be dangerous.”

Where next?

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