Jobi Mcanuff was integral to Leyton Orient winning the National League last year and could have a significant role to play once again this season.
The former Reading man captained Orient to their first title since 1970 and featured in 38 league matches last term, and without his calming influence and encouragement, the O’s would not have got over the line.
It was a big relief for fans when he extended his contract this summer, but that joy was dented by the news that he would take up a coaching role at the club following the passing of manager Justin Edinburgh.
As a result, he has not taken part in pre-season to the same degree as his team-mates and he may not feature as much on the pitch next season, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that his influence will diminish.
Despite reaching the latter stages of his career at 37, McAnuff was ever-present last year, and provided energy for the team in every game despite being deployed in different positions and playing through injury towards the end of the season.
He started out on the left at the beginning of the last campaign when the O’s utilised a 4-4-2 formation, and he was a constant menace for the opposition with and without the ball.
That meant he was the perfect candidate to take up a central midfield role when the team switched to 5-3-2. His average of 18.6 duels won exemplifies his battling spirit and explains why he was so effective in a tough and physical league, where winning the second ball and regaining possession is vital to success.
Despite his quicker days being behind him, throughout the season McAnuff showed the intelligence to get past opponents with ease, often dropping a shoulder to take on a defender and deliver a cross for Macauley Bonne to get on the end of – his average of four successful dribbles per match is evidence of that.
He averaged two successful crosses per match last season, and the O’s scored numerous goals as a result of his set-pieces last season, making McAnuff crucial to several wins across the season, and he was a big factor in Bonne’s 23 league goals.
Now with Conor Wilkinson up front, Orient will once again have a target to aim for in the box. He and Lee Angol should get their fair share of goals as a result of McAnuff playing behind them.
Orient got off to a lightning start, losing just one of their first 22 league games, and McAnuff was a huge factor behind that, but he was arguably more important to the team when results began to drop somewhat.
He provided a constant outlet for his defence, and he would drive the team on with marauding runs and through his motivation, constantly reassuring his teammates to keep pushing in order to grind out results.
He averaged 35 passes per game last season, a very impressive figure in the National League, and averaged six passes into the final third, which was vital to Orient maintaining pressure on opponents and providing Bonne and Josh Koroma with goalscoring opportunities.
Like many of his teammates there was non-stop effort from McAnuff in every game he played. That was what separated Orient from the rest and his average of 3.6 interceptions per game helped the team keep 20 clean sheets in the league.
If he can replicate last season’s performances this year then he will once again be a key player for The O’s, and though he will likely feature less he could play a big role in consolidating them in League Two.