David Cameron Walker

Deadline Day Dealings at the Orient

Jim White, reporters interviewing Harry Redknapp through a car window and football fans up and down the country gurning like morons behind Sky reporters – it can only be transfer deadline day.

This one was a classic, with Norwich making 300 bids and failing to sign former Orient-loanee Gary Hooper from Celtic, Forest’s owners making the club look like amateurs, Beckham agreeing to donate his wages at new club PSG to a local children’s charity, but best of all Peter Odemwingie humiliating himself by turning up uninvited at QPR in the vague hope of Harry giving him a job, in the most awkward moment since BBC staff got caught dancing to the Jim’ll Fix it theme tune at their Christmas Party!

But what of the mighty bald eagle himself, Russell Slade? Orient typically do precious little business in the winter transfer window, and this window saw further efforts to cut costs, which is unsurprising given that the club lost 1.4million last season which is projected to be down to £500K this year according to Barry Hearn. Slade warned that investment in players beyond the end of the season was not possible, which raises big concerns over our ability to keep the superb Moses Odubajo at the end of the season (although at least we kept hold of him for the rest of this season!)

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Summary of Orient Ins and Outs in the Transfer Window

In (Loans)

Shaun Batt                   Millwall                       Loan    31 Jan, 2013

Ade Azeez                    Charlton                      Loan    18 Jan, 2013

Out (Loans)

Michael Symes            Burton                         Loan    31 Jan, 2013

In

Charlie MacDonald     MK Dons                      Free     11 Jan, 2013

Elliott Omozusi            Unattached                 Free     January 2013

Out

Marc Laird                  Southend                     Free     04 Jan, 2013

Ryan Allsop                 Bournemouth              Free     18 Jan, 2013

Ben Chorley                Stevenage                   Free     31 Jan, 2013

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In terms of signings, reaction from Os fans has been mixed. Charlie MacDonald’s arrival on a free was largely positive, with many feeling his experience would help in a similar way to Scott McGleish and imperative with Kevin Lisbie currently injured. Elliott Omozusi returns to Orient for a second chance after serving his prison sentence. Ade Azeez is an unknown quantity, although promising and rated by Charlton fans, although he hasn’t played since the Doncaster game after apparently getting a knock. Reaction to Shaun Batt was very mixed, both among Os and Millwall fans. He tends to polarize opinion. Slade has “had him on the radar” for quite a while and feels he is tall and awkward and sees a fit for him at Orient. Fans point to his Calvin Andrewesque goal scoring record and general lack of ability. Personally I prefer to see players kick a ball before criticising them!

Unsurprisingly Michael Symes made the move to Burton. He has looked lumbering, awkward and generally lost at Orient, so a move will do him good, either as an O’s player or for selling him on in the summer.

Leaving was Marc Laird who opted to turn his Southend loan into a permanent move after Orient released him and will no doubt face us in the Johnson’s Paint area final next week.  The biggest losses have been Ryan Allsop, a ‘keeper without any senior appearances who was signed from Millwall on a 6 month contract in the summer. After some superb performances he caught the eye of moneybags Bournemouth who doubled his wages compared to what Orient could offer. It’s a loss for the club, but with Jamie Jones and Lee Butcher getting fit again, Orient already has two good keepers at the club.

The biggest shock was big Ben Chorley leaving for Stevenage. From chants of “You’ll never beat Ben Chorley” a few seasons ago to “It’s never your fault” last season, when he had a dreadful season (as did most of the squad), Chorley has focused and been superb for Orient this season, becoming a real lynchpin in the backline. While many, myself included, would have been happy to see him go in the summer after a poor season, to see him leave now, with a settled and solid back line and Southend coming up in a few days, is worrying to say the least. While Baudry is rapidly improving and Cuthbert and Clarke are excellent players, their injury records are a cause for concern, the club may find itself short in that position later this year. Nevertheless, with a longer contract on offer, nobody blames Chorley for moving on.

So where does this leave the Os for the rest of the season?

Well, the good news is Rowlands and Cook, both of whom have been excellent for the Os this season have signed extensions until the end of the season. Clarke and Butcher are coming back to fitness and having Chorley off the wage bill takes pressure off the club. Key players such as Cox and Odubajo are still here and overall the team is playing consistently well at the moment. Even without Lisbie. Slade seems to have gradually overcome the dreadful performances of last season and earlier this season and we finally look a tougher side to beat. Massive games await against Southend with a trip to Wembley the prize and we are already on 40 points – just 10 to go to that magic 50 point mark, relative safety and then who knows?

Up the Os!

Written by Andy Brown, We Are Going Up’s Leyton Orient Blogger

Andy tweets at @OrientMeatPie

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