Little under a year ago Leyton Orient were flying high in the League One Play Off final and appeared to be cruising to victory, and promotion, over Rotherham. However two Alex Revell goals in five second half minutes drew The Millers level and the Yorkshire side would eventually win on penalties.
Chris Dagnall’s decisive penalty miss sparked a chain of events that have left Orient in disarray as they head into The Football League’s bottom tier. On the 7th of July 2014 Orient chairman Barry Hearn sold the club to Francesco Becchetti, The Italian’s influence was felt straight away as the club brought an influx of quality players such as Jobi McAnuff, Bradley Pritchard and Shane Lowry.
The start of the season would not reflect the quality of the squad, with just two wins in their opening 10 league games. This unsavoury start to the season was not limited to matters on the pitch as manager Russell Slade and Becchetti became embroiled in a fiery incident over Slade wanting to join Cardiff City. Cardiff had an initial approach for Slade rejected before he tendered his resignation.
Following Slade’s appointment as Cardiff boss on the 6th of October, Orient would begin on an awful run of form that saw them win just five of their next 20 games, losing 11. The club would appoint two Italian managers in this time; the first was Mauro Milanese who would only take charge of five league matches, winning one.
Following Milanese’s departure on the eighth of December, Fabio Liverani would take charge of the club and hope to steer the troubled club to safety, he would fail. Liverani’s spell in charge did yield more wins than any other Orient boss in the 2014/15 season but it will forever be known as the one that saw Orient relegated.
Even players like former Liverpool star Andrea Dossena, brought in by Milanese, couldnt stop the slide as Liverani’s spell of 27 league games saw him win eight and lose 13. The club were relegated in 23rd position, only propped up by fellow underachievers Yeovil Town. Their top goalscorer in the league was Chris Dagnall with just 11 goals and the club’s problems have been added to amid rumours of player discontent.
Striker Shaun Batt took to social media to voice his frustrations over the players being forced to train for three weeks following the end of the season. It is thought that Becchetti is willing to listen to offers for the club following their relegation and, following his poor tenure as manager, Liverani has resigned leaving the club manager less, effectively ownerless and almost hopeless.
It is a sad state of affairs to see a club that were so close to gracing the second tier of English football now facing an uncertain future in the fourth. The club that were at one stage trying to finalise a deal for the Olympic stadium are now languishing in an unhappy Brisbane Road.
For the club the future is unclear, they will require a full overhaul in the summer to prepare them for what was probably unthinkable 12 months ago, so a year on from a shoot out defeat to Rotherham, it would seem that Leyton Orient have paid the penalty.