On FM Scout you can chat about Football Manager in real time since 2011. Here are 10 reasons to join!

The Young Americans [Leyton Orient]

Leyton Orient QuarterbackStyle
Started on 11 October 2013 by Northwood
Latest Reply on 13 May 2014 by Northwood
  • POSTS157
  • VIEWS45968

You are the weakest link

“The summer before you play your first season in the top flight—is there any more thrilling or terrifying time to be the manager of a little club? On the one hand, everything starts happening at once, there’s good news everywhere you look, and you can practically see the club growing every day.”
Brian Phillips - Pro Vercelli manager

I knew exactly how Brian had felt.

My head was spinning from everything going on around me.

The club was certainly growing. Between the new sponsor deals, the start of the new stadium construction, agents looking for new and better deals for their clients, planning of friendly matches and much more I was afraid if Leyton Orient had the infrastructure to cope with everything happening at once.

And while all this was pulling me in different directions my most important job was to build a team that could fight for survival next season.
I was also still had to try to figure out who was sending me text messages every morning with the three words:


With the huge loan for the new stadium now on the books the ante had been raised as we could probably not afford to be a one-and-done and move right back down.
But to make money you will have to spend money and I now got money to spend. My transfer budget had just increased by more than 2500% and now i had to figure out how to spend my £17M wisely.

£17M was a lot of money for a team that had spent £120K buying new players over the last two seasons but at the same time it was not enough money to go out and buy a completely new team that could compete in the Barclays Premier League.
I would need to maximize what I already had and use the money to fill out the most glaring holes in the starting lineup. What was perhaps an even bigger concern was our complete lack of depth.
If I was also able to add a future prospect for cheap that would be an added bonus.

I quickly found out that with the maximum salary allowed by the board for a key player being no more than £13.500 p/week, the kind of players I could afford to sign was severely limited. Most of the players with experience from the top division I could afford to buy had absolutely no interest in signing a deal with that low a base salary. And if they would accept our salary they were in most cases so old or flawed that they would not help us much.
I did try to convert some of the £17M from the transfer budget into salary but without much effect.

We also finally got the green light from the board to scout the entire world. The same day as the news arrived a new scout was hired and sent off to America to kick off my secret project “The young Americans” I had waited more than two years to start.

I had now used the 4-1-1-2-2 formation for two seasons with great success. In addition I had developed a less attacking variant of that formation I used against stronger teams or when defending a lead.
My plan was now to add a defensive 4-1-2-2-1 formation to my repertoire to be used against the absolute top teams.
I would have to look for players that could fit into all three formations.

I had read “The Numbers game” (
“Perhaps the book’s most remarkable finding is that football is a “weakest-link game” – although it’s nice to have great players in your team, it’s more important not to have rubbish players.”

Leyton Orient didn't have a lot of rubbish players when looking at the team in a vacuum. Shaun Batt and Mathieu Baudry had been the standout players the year before with the rest of the team all performing on an above average level. But when you started to compare the team to our upcoming opponents in the Barclays Premier League, one could argue that Leyton Orient was one big weak link.

The breakdown of the team looked something like this:

Shaun “The Batt 6.0” Batt and David Mooeny had done an outstanding job last season combining for 45 goals and 18 assists. I just had to hope that they could keep it going even at the next level if we were to stand a chance of survival.
Ettore Mendicino had done a decent job when called for in relief but behind them it was scary empty. I would have to find a striker that could compete for a spot in the starting lineup and a hot prospect to groom would also be a nice thing to have.

Dean Cox was a huge question mark. After winning the Sky Bet League 1 Player of the Year Award the year before, the 2013-14 season had been a huge disappointment for the attacking midfielder. I needed him to bounce back. If not I would have to go with Tom Lawrence and Moses Odubajo at AML and AMR.
The coaches kept praising Moses and former Manchester United player Tom Lawrence also kept performing whenever he got the chance. The question mark was if they were good enough for the Barclays Premier League.

George Baldock would have a key-role as the man-in-the-middle of the midfield. That could be a lot of pressure to put on the shoulder on a player that just a few months ago played for MK Dons in the Sky Bet League 1.

Behind Baldock Italian Davide Bottone would have the routine and be the link between offense and defends. Jody Morris and Romain Vincelot would both be looking over his shoulder for a spot in the starting lineup.

Defends was my biggest concern. We had allowed more goals (36) than any other team in the top-15 of the Sky Bet Championship last season.
In the left back I had Ben Gordon. He had started out bad but his performance had picked up during the season. His backup Luke Giverin had not improved last season and was a question mark.
In the middle Mathieu Baudry had played fantastic. Nathan Clark was getting old and his lack of speed was a liability. I would need a starting central defender (with speed).
On the right side I had used both Elliot Omozusi and Romain Vincelot but like with the rest of the team, the question was if they were good enough to play in the Barclays Premier League.

Lets go shopping

I must admit that it was a lot harder to spend money then what I had expected.
That summer we had looked at thousands of players. We had talked to hundreds of agents and negotiated with at least 50 different players.

This is what I got for my money.

AMC Pablo Ceppelini
A multi purpose attacking midfielder that came on a free from Maribor in Slovenia. With Maribor he had started the entire previous season and posted a AvR just over seven. Can play both left, right and central and as a normal midfielder or as the attacking variant.

AMC Fede Cartabia
Cartabia had two outstanding seasons with Valencia Mestalla (7.76 & 7.29 AvR) and I hoped he could copy that in the Barclays Premier League. A technically gifted player that had several games for the Argentina U20 national team on his resume.

DC Harry Maguire
Harry Maguire had played a lot for Sheff United before moving the Aston Villa before last season.
Still a young player with several games for the English U21 team. He is strong like an ox and hopefully able to help stop the gaping hole in our backline.

DC Scott Wootton
Came from Leeds but also had a history with both Man U and Liverpool. He doesn't have the same upside as Harry Maguire but got the routine instead. His dominance in the air will hopefully help us on set pieces where we have struggled.

ST Álex Rubio
The Spanish youngster is the most expensive of our purchase with his £1.9M price tag.
Álex Rubio had scored 38 goals in 38 game (7.59 AvR) for the Sevilla B team the year before.
When buying new players I always looked at what a player had done before in his career. If a player has posted a 6.5 rating each of the last 5 seasons there is a lot bigger chance that he will turn in another 6.5 this year than that he suddenly breaks out with a 8.0 season. And the same goes the other way around.
I already knew that Álex Rubio was not afraid to put the ball in the net, I just needed him to get comfortable doing it in the Barclays Premier League as well.

MC Conor Newton
Newton was another box to box midfielder that could also play on the right and substitute as a deep lying playmaker. He was a product of the Newcastle youth academy without ever getting a first team match. He had showed promise with Hartlepool and Huddersfield and hopefully we could get him to develop even more.

ST Jason
From Levante in Spain we picked up Jason. A bit of a wildcard but with 38 goals and 8 assists in 28 games for Levante B last season he was worth a gamble.

ST Ashley Harris
For £3K a week I could afford to take another gamble on a player like Harris. I was intrigued by his combination of high ratings in both flair, creativity and my favorite attribute, determination.

GK Declan Rudd
With Luciano still recovering from his injury we also added another keeper. Declan Rudd was another young “for a keeper” player that could very much compete with Dejan Stojanovic for a place in the starting lineup.
Rudd had played his football for Norwich before we bought him inn for just £300K.

And finally we had taken the first baby-step in the journey of becoming America's team as we finally managed to two young Americans to the team.

DR Will Pacckwood
First we added a player I had looked at for a long time when we played in the lower divisions. Will Pacckwood was born in Boston but have played all his football with Birmingham.

DM Maurice Edu
Maurice Edu was the only player we had managed to sign with Barclays Premier League experience. He had been a starter for several years for Rangers when he arrived in Europa. He then went to play for Stoke where he struggled to find a place in the starting lineup. He has 39 appearances for the USMNT and can be used both as a defensive midfielder and as a central defender.

When it was all set and done we had signed eleven new players and I had used close to £9.5M on improving the team. That left us with plenty of money left to add more new players in January if necessary.
It was perhaps not the 11 players I had hoped for when starting the shopping spree but they would go a long way adding some much needed depth to Leyton Orient.

With so many new players on the team I had low expectations for the preseason but despite trying out lots of different formations and players we came away with some good results.

We lost to Sevilla on the road but won the next six games scoring a total of 21 goals. It was perhaps not against Barclays Premier League quality opponents, but we dominated the weaker teams and got a solid win against Benfica.

We looked solid forward on the field with good performances in the friendly’s by several players, among them Jason (3 goals in the preseason games), Dean Cox (2), David Mooney (4) and of cause Shaun Batt (3).
Even with the added competition I could not get around Shaun Batt. He simply kept scoring goals whenever I gave him the chance and I saw no way around having him in the starting 11 on opening day.

I was still a bit unsure about how we stacked up on defends. It was concerning that we only managed a clean sheet twice in the seven warm-up games but on the positive side we did not allow any team to score on us more than once.

The first phone call came at two o'clock in the night. At first I thought it was a dream but the phone didn't stop buzzing. Still confused and sleepy I answered the phone.
The computer voice in the other end just said three words before the line was cut off.

Great signings and preseason! These ARE YOU READY messages are a nice touch to the story, too ;)

Not in the face

It was finally time to start paying for our overachievement the previous two seasons and for opening day we traveled the 75 mils down the M25 to Brighton for our first ever Barclays Premier League game.

This was the type of games we had to win if we were to have any glimmer of hope staying in the top division. We would somehow need to find 12 wins (36 points) and another 4 draws (4 points) or some other combination of wins and draws that would take us to 40 points that would likely be enough to save us from relegation.

In front of 30.000 people we took the lead just before halftime when David Mooney scored after Brighton failed to clear a Dean Cox freekick. Only six minutes were played of the second half when Brighton pulled back to level. The lack of Premier League speed by Ben Gordon was exposed when he failed to close down his man down the sideline and the cross found a wide open Brighton player left alone in front of goal who had no problems equalizing.
We had the better chances to get the win but we failed to capitalize and had to settle for a draw and our first ever point in the Barclays Premier League.

There were no getting around it. Life in the Barclays Premier League was tough and especially for a team with growing pains like Leyton Orient.
I also had to admit that I made a huge mistake in the preseason. I had been too occupied with trying out new formations and testing different players during the preseason to find a starting XI for opening day. That was coming back to hurt me know when the season got underway.

I was scared when we traveled to Liverpool FC to play at the mighty Anfield Road in week 4 and had a real “not in the face” moment. We were still without a win and Liverpool were undefeated in the last six games.
It was Liverpool completely dominating the game from the first minute. They scored after 31 minutes and kept piling on the pressure for a second. We survived to half time only down one goal.
The second half was more of the same and it didn't get any better when George Baldock was sent off for two yellow cards after an hours play. We switched to a flat 4-4-1 formation and Liverpool added even more pressure. But instead of getting clubbed we managed hit back on a counter attack. With just seven minutes remaining one of our new signings Conor Newton scored the equalizer when the Liverpool defends lost track of him on the fare post after a freekick.
It would only have been fair to stop us when we were leaving the stadium and arrest us for theft of a point, but we came away from Anfield with a point in the bag and a huge boost of moral.

My morale was at an all-time low. I was probably the only one that had noticed that one of the advertising boards around the field during the warm-up had turned black before blinking


before going back to showing the normal advertising.
That came on top of the now almost weekly telephone calls I got during the night once a week with the same message

The morale boost the team had gotten was much needed with Chelsea coming to town the week after.

Chelsea were not going to underestimate us like Liverpool had done the week before. They came out with the entire team of superstars including Hazard, Mata, Ramires and Willian. It looked ugly when they had scored three before the half. Once again the team showed great moral and even with Chelsea still dominating the second half we scored twice and had a shot on the upright in the last 10 minutes with a chance to tie the game.
Once again we came away with a respectable result and a burst of confidence.
But what we really needed now was a win and some points to take us out of the relegation zone.

The team got within one minute of getting our first win in the home game against Newcastle but had to settle for another draw when the Magpies scored on a desperate longshot in the last minute.

If not for the two wins in the Cup, that had also helped saving a bit of moral in the player group, the first month in the Barclays Premier League would have been a complete disaster.

This was not the start I had hoped for.

And dont forget this weeks Men in Blazers Podcast with former USMNT coach Bob Bradley
Exciting update. Looks like the fight is on! Are you ready?
Mr. Shjanzey : Exciting update. Looks like the fight is on! Are you ready?

Apparently not.

But we will not go down without a fight.

Thanks for reading.
Northwood's avatar Group Northwood
10 yearsEdited

Fighting back

Without a win we suddenly found ourselves next to last with only Norwich City behind us in the standing. Below the relegation line the two next games, home against fellow relegation-suspects Swansea and West Brom Albion were suddenly close to must-win-games for us.

At home in front of a full stadium (9.311 people) we finally got our first win of the season in a close game against Swansea.The team from Wales dominated time of possession (57%) and took 17 shots compared to Leyton Orient's just 5 but the O's still managed to score the winning goal when Tom Lawrence connected with a cross from George Baldock on a counter attack.

The week after Shaun Batt (finally) opened his scoring account for the season when he scored the first goal in another home win, this time over West Brom Albion. For the first time in the season we dominated a game but It was a bit of a concern that Will Packwood was the only of the newly acquired players in the starting lineup.
After the two wins we now found ourselves five points clear of the dreaded line.

We badly needed those points with the last two league games of October coming up being against league leaders Arsenal and Manchester United.

In front of the biggest crowd the team had ever played for (60.000 at the Emirates) we lost 3-1. Arsenal easily scored three in the first half. We won the second half 1-0 when Arsenal decided to take it easy on us.

The League Cup game against Hull City should have been an easy win but we failed to score in both regular time and extra time and the game went to penalties.
We got away with the win after 8 penalties from each team and would play Fulham in the quarter final.

The Manchester United game was another clear loss. The coaches had several times suggested that we played a defensive 4-1-3-2 formation against the stronger teams. I decided to try it against Manchester without much success. We were seriously overrun on the flanks and didn't manage to get any balls to our two strikers. Manchester didn't have that problem and took 32 shots during the game and we were lucky only to give up three goals.

Next up for us was another must-win-game against last place team Norwich City. The Canaries had only gathered four points in their 10 first games before coming to Matchroom Stadium in the start of November 2015.
Norwich took the lead after just 11 minutes and kept the lead until the halftime break.
When the teams was ready to kick off the second half a small plane went over the stadium with a banner hanging behind it with the text “ARE YOU READY?”

I don’t know if the players saw the plane but in the second half they played like a different team. After 69 minutes the old Shaun “The batt 6.0” Batt was back when he out sprinted the defenders and in two attempts managed to get the ball past the Norwich keeper for the equalizer. And just 11 minutes later he did it again when he was in the right place in the right time and easily could score the game winner from close range.

In the next game win got a lucky win over Fulham before being humiliated by Southampton in the last game in November.

With the four wins in October and November we had moved up to 13th place in the standing, five points clear of the relegation line in front of a team like Nigel.

Before the transfer window had closed I decided to add another player at left defender. Ben Gordon was clearly overmatched in the Barclays Premier League and had struggled in the first two months of the season and what was even worse was that I had no backup to put in when he struggled the most.

Once again we found an Italian free agent that looked like a good replacement.

But already in his first game I learned that it’s not that easy to just add a new player to an Barclays Premier League team and that there was a reason Favalli was a FA in the first place.

Alessandro Favalli started out with a horrible 4.9 rating in his first game from start. I hoped it was just a fluke but in the next start he posted an equally horrible 5.3 rating and two of the goals were scored when he failed to defends raids down our left side.
And then just to add injury to insult Alessandro Favalli was injured in a game for the U21 team and ruled out for 3-4 months.
It was back to the drawing board.

And as always don't forget the Men in Blazers Podcast

Not so happy christmas

While trying to put together a team that could keep Leyton Orient in the Barclays Premier League, I also had to try to build for the future and I kept adding young prospects to the team. The latest were two Finish youngsters that one of our scouts had spotted earlier in the year when scouting in Scandinavia. Both were five star prospects but still very young. They would join us after New Year and then go out on loan for the remaining of the season to gain experience.

I had finally decided to move away from my preferred 4-1-1-2-1 asymmetric formation that had taken the team all the way from the Championship League 1 to the Barclays Premier League. The system had always had a flaw that we were easily overrun in the midfield but until now we had managed to overcome that simply by outscoring the opponents.
But in the Barclays Premier League the opposition were simply too good and exploited that flaw a way that lower ranked teams could not.
There was simply no way I could afford to have two pure strikers left up front at all times and only a single central midfielder.

I decided to go real conservative and opted for a 4-1-2-2-1 formation.
We tried it the first time against West Ham on the road. It was not pretty and we didn't produce much but we did manage to close down the defense and come away with a 0-0 draw on the road.
The bad news was that Shaun “The Batt 6.0” Batt injured his hamstring and was ruled out for 2-3 months. Not that it mattered much as his scoring-form from last season was long gone.

We managed to come back from two goals down against the Wolves and secure another draw. It was our fifth draw of the season and we stayed 5 points clear of the relegation line.

I was not the only coach struggling in the Barclays Premier League. After back to back losses to Stoke City FC and Chelsea in the beginning of December, the Manchester City board decided to sacked Manuel Pellegrini. The blue team from Manchester was in 5th place in the league 8 points behind Man U. A week later the coaching carousel turned and Laurent Blanc from Paris Saint-Germain took over the hot-seat in Manchester while André Villas-Boas became the new man in Paris.
On a much smaller scale, Swansea also fired their coach Gary Bowyer a few days later after a horrible 0-5 loss to Wigan.

I was approached by the Rayo Vallecano board. The team from Madrid was currently mid table in the second best Spanish division and looking for a new manager after Oscar Cano who had failed to get a win in the last six games.
I was invited to Spain for a talk but kindly declined.

The Christmas period was not kind to us as we struggled to find a win. We had tremendous problems scoring goals. David Mooney had only scored 5 goals all season and Shaun Batt was still out due to injury. Jason who had scored 28 goals for Levante B last season had scored just once and Alex Rubio who had scored 38 goals in 38 games the year before were still without a goal this season.

I had to shake it up. Our scout came back with a few young American prospects but none of them looked like players that could help us get out of the slump and none of them would be able to obtain a work permit anyway. Instead we signed yet another Italian.

For £1.8M we signed Andrea Russotto from Padova. He had an average rating over 7.1 for the last three seasons and could show a 7.41 AvR in the 20 games he has started this season.
I loved his flair for the game and determination.

In mid-January we played Chelsea on the road and were totally dominated in a 3-1 loss.
It could have been a lot worse considering that Liverpool lost 7-1 to Chelsea just a few days later.
Liverpool took revenge 10 days later when they scored five against us on our turf.
The next day in the local paper somebody had taken out a full page ad but nobody could tell me who had paid for it. The ad was just the three words I had come to hate.


When the month of February final came to an end we were still three points clear of the relegation line. But that was the only positive.
We had still not won a single game on the road and we had the worst G.D. of all teams in the league.

And as always don't forget to listen to this week’s Men in Blazers Podcast
Hopefully you can fight the drop to stay in the Premier League for now! P.S. Men In Blazers will be featured in EA Sports FIFA World Cup 2014 game, if you'll be playing it ;)
Louis O. : Hopefully you can fight the drop to stay in the Premier League for now! P.S. Men In Blazers will be featured in EA Sports FIFA World Cup 2014 game, if you'll be playing it ;)

Thanks for digging this story up all the way down from the second page.

There is still 36 points left to play for and we are not the only bad team in the EPL this season, so hopefully we can survive.

I am too old to play FIFA (my son beats me every time) but I might pick it up just for the commentary. They had the guy from EA on one of the podcasts a while back and it sounded hilarious.
I'm waiting for some updates, Northwood :D!
Great story, you are doing really well. I started mine about 2 weeks ago with orient and was wondering if you could post Shaun Bart' s stats for me. In mine it looks like he will struggle in championship never mine premiership

rory13 : Great story, you are doing really well. I started mine about 2 weeks ago with orient and was wondering if you could post Shaun Bart' s stats for me. In mine it looks like he will struggle in championship never mine premiership


He looks nothing like a Premiership top goal scorer but everything he did that year turned into a goal.

Pauker : I'm waiting for some updates, Northwood :D!

Sorry for the dealy. Happy Easter

Runaway to Spain?

Before the game against West Brom we dropped below the relegation again and losing the game didn't help us any.

We finally got our first win later in february. The win over Norwich moved us one lowsy point clear of the relegation line with nine games left to play. The problem was that Norwich was clearly the worst team in the Barclays Premier League and in the remaining nine games it was difficult to see where we could earn enough points to save us from relegation.

In the next game we would play a Manchester United team that had just taken home the first trophy under new manager Jürgen Klopp when they won the Capital One Cup over West Brom Albion.
United had also played a hard midweek game against Arsenal before coming to Leyton. I desperately hoped that it would be a complacent and tired Manchester team that came to East London after a long and eventful week.
We gave up two goals after corners (again) but also scored on a corner. It was what the press would call another respectable loss that helped on the teams low moral but didn't help us anything in the table.

For some reason the teams in the Spanish second division had fallen in love with me. I was offered my 3rd interview with a Spanish Segunda B team in just a few weeks when Villarreal asked for a talk.
I declined again.

Maybe that was a mistake and I should just have taken the chance and moved to Spain as we were once again dropped under the relegation line before the game against Fulham.
I needed to make a change as nothing i had tried so far had worked. I decided for a 4-5-1 formation with a flat five in the middle. With 10 players behind the ball it was not a huge surprise that we looked better in defends but forward on the field we created absolutely nothing in what was a horrible game of football to watch.
It took a penalty to break the deadlock and luckily Leyton Orient were the beneficiaries this time around when Ettore Mendicino was taken down in the penalty box.
Tom Lawrence made no mistakes and scored on the penalty and gave us the narrowest victory possible and we once again moved above the dreaded relegation line.

You are reading "The Young Americans [Leyton Orient]".

FMS Chat

hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a fb style chat for our members. login or sign up to start chatting.