It’s tricky to imagine how Leyton Orient will approach this season. After returning to the Football League following two years in the National League, promotion secured on a desperately tense final day, the club experienced the other extreme in emotion when manager Justin Edinburgh suddenly passed away in June.
Ross Embleton, who was on Edinburgh’s coaching staff, has taken over, and according to club director Matt Porter, this season will be about honouring the memory of their late manager.
“Obviously it’s been a summer of contrasting emotions,” Porter told the Totally Football League Show, “with the immense high of winning the National League and regaining our Football League status, and that was followed up by the tragic loss of Justin.
“It’s something we’ve had to come to terms with as a club, something that’s been very difficult and something we’ve had to seek a lot of strength from each other, and from the support of the wider football world. Messages of support from fans of other clubs have really helped.
“It’s important that we honour Justin the right way, and that his legacy at the football club lives on, and that we continue the upward path that we’ve been on for the last couple of years.”
For Embleton, it must be a particularly tough job, given his youth (he’s 37) and that he’s taking over from a club hero.
“Ross is obviously a very young head coach and someone we believe very strongly in,” said Porter. “He was our Academy manager and he’s someone I’ve known personally for a long time, someone who everyone at the club is very familiar with and someone we’re confident can take us forwards.
“Danny Webb, his assistant, and Jobi McAnuff, who stepped up to be player-coach, are obviously a young and inexperienced coaching team, so in order for them to have the right level of support and reassurance around them, our director of football Martin Ling – who’s done pretty much everything there is to do in the game – will be working with them on a close basis to ensure they get that level of support, guidance and experience he can offer.”
Promotion isn’t on the agenda. Or at least it won’t be demanded by the board, who according to Porter want a period of calm and consolidation.
“We’re very realistic: we overachieved by getting out of the National League in two years – we set ourselves a target of three or four years to do that and we managed it in two.
“We’re not saying there’s a tearing rush to get into League One – obviously it’s not something we would have a problem with – but we can’t put that level of pressure on the management.
“As a board, we want to bring stability and continuity, and hope that breeds success on the pitch.”
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