Date: 19th September 2006 at 4:29pm
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Orient have suffered a poor start to the season and here at Vital Orient Jay Masters puts forward his thoughts on the matter.

Ling Needs To Act

We`ve heard it all before, those old clichés such as ‘putting our best foot forward` and ‘not giving teams a head start`, however the words of Martin Ling have been nothing but empty in recent weeks. Having lost all five games away from home so far, Orient folded like a pack of cards according to Ling during the debacle at the Withdean Stadium. It was an embarrassing display by the O`s, one that was even laughable because if one was not to laugh then one could only cry such was the ineptitude of the visiting side.

There are numerous problems facing the management at the current time and it may not all be as simple as first perceived. First, there is the playing side of the club which in recent time has looked as if it is in disarray. Despite unverified reports of uneasiness within the dressing room at Brisbane Road, it does not take an expert to see that there is a complete lack of spirit amongst the players. This was quite evident during Saturday`s game as the O`s seemed to lose all hope and determination as they capitulated once again.

Although I am always reluctant to blame the managerial team, especially after their superb achievements last season, there is a feeling that perhaps Martin Ling has underestimated the level of League One this season. Having brought in players that do not seem to be up to the required level, in particular the replacement of Gabriel Zakuani with Clayton Fortune, Ling may have made a crucial mistake.

Saah’s The Answer

Another severe problem that has plagued Orient this season is the lack of pace within the side. Ling must not that he cannot play John Mackie and Adam Tann together in central defence as the pair do not possess enough pace to deal with the strikers within League One. Clayton Fortune is another defender that does not have sufficient pace and hence that is why that any combination of Mackie, Tann and Fortune cannot possibly work. The answer is of course Brian Saah. Saah may be a young man just entering into his career, but he has impressed many with his superb performances thus far. Saah possesses great pace whilst also being able to play the ball out of defence. The youth team graduate is good in the air and is able to read the game well. In fact, it is the opinion of many that Saah may even become a better player than Zakuani.

Where’s The Money Gone?

On the point of Zakuani, many fans are still wondering where the £1 million received for Gaby`s transfer currently resides. With flats being built around the ground, promotion from League One in addition to last season`s cup run, the question has to be asked as to why Ling has not brought in quality players. It must be pointed out that Ling is renowned for biding his time only buying players he perceives as correct for the club, however, the loan signing of Partridge and the signing of Fortune have not instilled confidence.

Ling`s failure to add quality players to the squad only serves to show the lack of ambition at Brisbane Road on the playing side of the equation. The O`s were never going to follow Southend`s path largely due to the fact that the O`s do not possess a striker of Freddy Eastwood`s quality. Yet, talks of consolidation and merely trying to stay up, hardly serves to inspire anybody in Brisbane Road. Attendances at the Matchroom Stadium have decreased whilst fans are becoming extremely frustrated with their team`s inability to perform away from home.

O’s Out Of Touch

Furthermore, is the problem that the club seems to be drifting further apart from the fans. The fans do not have any real knowledge of where the money is and how it is being spent and whether they can expect some new arrivals in January. At the current moment, Ling will definitely need to strengthen his squad as the O`s currently sit inside the relegation zone. Yet, there is some sort of strange atmosphere that has engulfed the club since promotion. Whilst the building work around the ground continues and the new stand looks impressive, the team has yet to hit the same heights since last season.

No Need To Panic

However, despite the unrest, there is no need to panic just quite yet. With only nine games played, the O`s have enough time to turn it all around, although it would take a wide eyed optimist to suggest that Orient will reach anything over 12th position. Having lost five of the last six, a win against bottom placed Rotherham is essential as is a result against Gillingham next Tuesday. If Orient can gather two victories at Brisbane Road in their next two outings, then at least Ling will have some respite before hitting the road again to face Blackpool.