After taking charge of Leyton Orient back in March, Richie Wellens inspired a run of 23 points from 13 games in a side that had accrued just four points from the previous 13 outings.
It was too late for a play-off push – Orient finished 13th, 19 points shy of the top seven – but the East Londoners are hopeful of continuing that form into 2022-23 and challenging for promotion this season.
The early signs are promising, with the O’s beating newly-promoted Grimsby 2-0 on the opening day and Steve from the Orient Outlook Podcast was happy with the performance.
“It’s always nice to start the season with a win no matter how you get it,” he notes.
“I’ve been quietly confident about the season ahead for the O’s and, after a shaky start, we settled into the match and once we got ahead, we managed the game very well.
“Two goals, a clean sheet and 3 points; you can’t ask for much more than that!”
Co-podcaster Paul agrees: “They had a great chance early on to take the lead, but super Lawrence Vigoroux made a game-changing save.
“So yes, we got a bit lucky, but we’re a work-in-progress as we’ve had injuries to key players through pre-season.”
Steve is happy with the impact Wellens has had on the E10 outfit after the club had endured a dreary run of one goal in 10 games at the back-end of Kenny Jackett’s reign.
“There’s a level of calmness and arrogance that he comes across with and that’s really been reflected in the performances since he arrived.
“He inherited a team with no cohesion, low on confidence and on a downward spiral, and the impact that he’s made since his arrival should not be underestimated.
“We recently had Vice Chairman Kent Teague on the podcast who only had good things to say about Richie, especially in regard to his man management skills.”
In that aspect, Paul feels Wellens’ positivity is ‘infectious’ but also describes the manager as ‘a very realistic person’.
“He has a way he wants to play and ensures his messages are understood by the players,” Paul comments.
“I agree with Steve that his key skill is man management. He knows when to laugh and joke but also switches to being serious.”
Despite the faith in Wellens, who led Swindon to the title at this level in 2019-20 before more challenging stints with Salford and Doncaster, there have been some worries over slow recruitment, but Steve is content with the personnel in place.
“A large proportion of the fanbase are concerned about the lack of signings and depth of the squad.
“Personally, I’m ok with what we have as it stands.
“I think the signings over the summer have been top notch in George Moncur, Theo Archibald, Rob Hunt and the arrival of Charlie Kelman on loan. They certainly are what we call ‘League One ready’.
“Add to that extending the contracts of Ruel Sotiriou, Tom James and Adam Thompson, whilst keeping players like Laurence Vigoroux and Paul Smyth, who are far too good to be playing in League Two.
“Richie has also alluded to at least one more coming through the door in central midfield, so it’ll be interesting to see who that will be.”
“I’ve been encouraged by what I saw on Saturday, but also what we’ve seen over the summer,” Steve continues.
“The mood in the camp looks good, we have the quality of players to certainly make a push for the play-offs at least.
“Like any promotion winning season, we’ll need to be lucky with injuries and suspensions, but I’d be disappointed if we aren’t at least top 7 come the end of the season.”
Paul, meanwhile, is the voice of reason, deeming it ‘way too early’ to talk about promotion.
“The board has consistently said we have a top 7 budget.
“We had Vice Chairman Kent Teague on our podcast this week, who said it’s more like 4th-7th, and given the signings we’ve made and the quality we already have here we should be looking at top 7, but let’s not get carried away.
“It’s a marathon not a sprint!”
Orient haven’t started an EFL campaign with back-to-back victories since 2013/14; change that at Crawley on Saturday and the giddiness could spread…
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