After what was a remarkable last season going through the feelings of ecstasy of the Peterborough semi final play off win to the pain of the penalty shoot out heartache at Wembley. I think every Orient fan will remember the season in a good light of how close we did come to the Championship.
The most important part of the summer was to ensure that we kept the core of the players that got us into the position of, third in the league. Cox, Vincelot, Odubajo and Jones were all quickly to be rumored to be leaving for higher ground. Speculation was rife around the club and media of the upcoming takeover of the club by Italian businessmen, Francesco Becchetti. The start of summer saw five players released but none of the players were integral to the club success. James and Sawyer signed new deals with Jones opting to leave for Preston where most fans felt that his injury problems had hampered his success with the club. Pretty quickly it became apparent that Odubajo wanted off, to go and play at a higher level where he signed for Brentford for an undisclosed fee of around 1 million. The money was very good for a 20 year old winger with one year left on his contract and a player that came through the youth set up at Orient. But surely keeping our best players is essential, well it is but after the sale of Moses, in an interview with Russell Slade he said that Mo wanted out. With the togetherness and unity of last season’s team, did we really want that affected by a player who didn’t want to be at the club?
Finally after weeks of waiting, Barry Hearn confirmed his share of the club to Becchetti, who seems at the moment a man who is willing to take the club to the next level. Hearn expressed that in recent years he had been approached several times by businessmen wanting to takeover the club but highlighted that he would only sell when the right person came along. With this, Hearn loves the club and wouldn’t have allowed the club to be taken in by other foreign businessmen which has happened with similar size clubs within English football. Slade leaving could also be an issue with a new owner of the club, but reports suggest that Slade is there to stay. The summer was also littered with reports that Slade was linked to the vacant West Brom job which all knew there was little or no possibility of that happening.
Once the takeover was complete some fans would have been expecting big money signings, but the most important thing was to build the team around the players who played so well last year, filling in the gaps, giving the team depth which some fans feel was a factor which prevented promotion last year. Before the takeover, Slade moved quickly to feel the vacant keeper spot signing Adam Legizins from Derby, The 6ft 4 keeper comes with good pedigree having played in the Championship with Derby County, also having previous experience of playing in the lower English leagues. Reading comments and reports, some Derby fans were upset over the departure of the keeper saying that he is a very good number 1 which bodes well for the season.
Next through the door was 28 year old midfielder Bradley Pritchard who arrived from Charlton Athletic having been there for the previous three seasons. Again filling positions where we were sometimes light last season with experience of playing at a higher level is always a good sign. He became the first signing of the Becchetti era with several more to follow suit. Slade was also keen to settle the number 2 keeping spot by bringing in Gary Woods, 23, signing on a two year deal following his release from Watford in the off season. A mixture of experience between the two keepers with both having prior experience at a higher level. Former Millwall and Aston Villa trainee Shane Lowry was also set to have a medical on Saturday with hopefully the deal being wrapped up early next week. He brings again experience of championship football with reports suggesting that he has impressed at nearly of the clubs where he has played.
Lastly came what I call the best news of the summer was clinching the signature of Dean Cox for another three years until 2017. A player that has been linked away from the club numerous times with the likes of Peterborough after the winger. 17 goals, 13 assists in 56 appearance is a great record for a winger who showed his passion, desire and will to win in the aftermath of the playoff final defeat. One player that drifts in and out of games but he has dug us out of so many holes in games throughout his orient career. I think every Orient fan will remember the emotion that they showed when he put Orient 1-0 up with his fine volley vs Peterborough. Who said there was no loyalty in football, they may not be much left but Dean Cox has shown plenty.
The squad rebuilding process is not over but how many more will Slade add, a replacement for Moses will be on his agenda whether that be a loanee from a Premiership as we have done before or a fairly experienced player. Another striker, young pacey striker who we have had in recent years, we have the hold up play and quality of Lisbie and Mooney, real impact player in Batt and the hungry, hard worker in Dagnall. I think another winger on top Moses replacement to add another dimension to a game after 70 mins albeit you can play Batt there if needed.
The key point which every player who comes into the club needs to understand is the togetherness and unity which the team has, every player should fit in to this system which I am sure that Slade will focus on. I have expectations for this season but no matter what the league position come May 2015, I will always been wearing my Orient shirts with full pride.