Leyton Orient are back in the Football League after a two-year absence and will hope to continue on from last season’s achievements.
The club have suffered significantly over the summer though with the tragic passing of manager Justin Edinburgh but could use his legacy as motivation to continue the success he brought to the club.
On the pitch, Orient have lost two star strikers in Macauley Bonne and Josh Koroma. The pair scored a combined 36 league goals to guide the team to the National League title and their presence will be missed this season.
Fans would have been hoping for results to continue in a similar fashion to the last campaign, but developments over summer have changed their outlook.
Our FLW Six Pointer takes a look at what EFL fans can expect from the return of the O’s this season.
Who are the players to look out for?
“The O’s have lost their flair player in Josh Koroma but have kept most of their other key players who were instrumental to success.
“Marvin Ekpeitia and Craig Clay stand out as two key players who may not be easy on the eye, but they are very effective in their respective roles of centre-back and centre-midfield. They do the nitty-gritty side of the game remarkably well and won Orient a lot of points last season by keeping things tight at the back.
“Going forward, Maguire-Drew is a player capable of the exceptional. He will be the main creative outlet and a big season from him could see the O’s play above expectations.”
How will their new signings fair?
“The club have only made four signings this summer. One of those was Jamie Turley, who made his loan move permanent and the others; Conor Wilkinson, Lee Angol and Josh Wright are interesting propositions.
“Wilkinson and Angol have a brilliant opportunity to prove themselves at Football League level. Both have enjoyed mixed success in the past but a fresh start at Orient should help massively.
“Both are capable of scoring goals, Angol struck 11 times for Peterborough in League One in 2015/16 and last season Wilkinson came to life, scoring 12 goals in 23 appearances as he helped to propel Dagenham & Redbridge up the National League.
“Both will have a big responsibility to score the goals Orient need, and Wright will be important to retaining possession, so all should have a positive effect on the squad.”
What can we expect from new manager Ross Embleton?
“Embleton is very much untested, and has had a fairly short career in coaching – with this his first role in management.
“He has spent the last two years as assistant manager at the club and would have learnt a great deal from Edinburgh. He will likely continue where Edinburgh left off, that is what will suit the entire club, not just the players, and should lead to good results on the pitch.
“So far in pre-season he has experimented with different formations and given game time to a number of young players, so he will look to introduce his own ideas too, particularly with new players at the club.”
What is Orient’s style of play like?
“Last season Orient were very balanced and had a bit of everything, which is why they were so successful.
“They were able to handle whatever the National League threw at them, but did look to play passing football when they could. Koroma and McAnuff were a big part of that, both could take on defenders and applied pressure well but Koroma has left and McAnuff will take up a coaching role, so that style could change.
“The O’s are able to handle the physical side of the game well and if they choose to operate with a 5-3-2 formation, which they did for much of last season, then we could see a defence-first approach, which is natural given the quality of the defenders at the club, such as Ekpiteta, Josh Coulson, and Dan Happe.”
Where do you think they will finish?
“They are very much an unknown and there are multiple factors which could influence their success. They have a new manager, a new strike force and are playing their first season back in the EFL, but if they work out then they would be capable of mounting a play-off challenge.
“Orient’s success was largely built on their defence and that has stayed constant over the summer. They have a good platform to build on and if they can get the strikers firing then they should do well.
“However, they will need further additions. Whilst the first eleven is capable of producing results, the squad depth is severely lacking and when injuries and suspensions hit results could tail off.”
What is the mark of success for The O’s?
“Anything other than relegation would be considered an achievement for Orient, particularly after the summer they’ve just had.
“That doesn’t mean that they won’t be competitive though, their players are capable of making the step up and have a winning mentality and strong spirit which has led them to grind out results in the past.
“They are a team capable of putting a run together, as evidenced last season with just one defeat in their opening 22 games, and if they do that they can challenge the top half and potentially push for more.”