ORIENT manager Russell Slade today (Friday) celebrated three years in charge at the O’s and reflected on his achievement at the club thus far whilst also stating there is still much work to be done.
He said: “I think three years is probably quite an achievement in this day and age! It’s an achievement I’m very proud of and three years really doesn’t come easy these days.
“To do that is good and it comes from the top with Barry [Hearn], the board and the Chief Executive wanting a certain amount of stability as well, and in the modern day I think that’s important. You see managers getting sacked and roughly half the managers have gone already this season but I think if you give your manager the opportunity, even in the ups and downs, which we’ve had here in my three years, I think you reap the rewards long term.
“Two out of the three seasons have been reasonable successful, whether we’ve had a good cup run or a good league finish like two years ago and now we look like we are on for a good top half finish at the very least and hopefully a play-off spot, it’s all good for the club.
“I don’t think that coincidental. We’ve put in the foundations here in terms of the structure and the staffing and monitoring the players scientifically has been a big advancement of the football club.
“We’ve moved training ground in those three years and we’ve got a much nicer environment now, so there’s a lot within the football club that we’ve done as well and of course we are working hard at the grassroots level through the likes of Andy Edwards to make sure we have more Moses Odubajo’s coming through too.
“There’s still lots of little things we want to work on to move the football club even further forward as it gets tougher because football clubs will have to pull their belt a little bit tighter financially as we’ve done a bit this season and we’ll have to do a bit more again next season.
“That means you have to work hard to put your squad together but I enjoy putting a squad together but that’s not going to get any easier so we’re working hard to see what is out there and we’ve got someone who’s a bit of an unsung hero in Chris Johnson who we employ in the Stoke area who does a lot of scouting for us as well. The group all works very hard, both the Kevins [Nugent and Dearden] watch a lot of games.”
Looking back over the three years through the highs and lows, it’s no real surprise what game stands out in particular for the O’s manager.
“The draw against Arsenal will always be special. The ground just erupted that evening and it was a remarkable day for the club,” he said.
Turning his attention to this season, the O’s manager is urging his side not to take their foot off the gas as they look to gate-crash the League 1 play-offs, and is calling for all his players to pull their weight as his squad travel to Colchester depleted by injuries.
“We want to take it right to the wire. If we can take it to the very last day of the season then that will be a fantastic achievement, and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of support on that last home game of the season against Oldham if we do that,” he continued.
“It’ll be tough, we’ve been saddled with injuries so it’s all hands to the pump for the remaining four games but I know they’ll roll their sleeves up and I know what a good group of players it is and you’ve got to give them credit for what they’ve already achieved this season, it’s now just whether we can go to the well a couple more times and draw that little bit more to get us over the line.
“All the games against the bottom sides are tough as we’ve witnessed recently. Every team down there will give you a different challenge and Colchester are a little bit more flexible with their formation so we know they’ve got a physical side to them, but they’ve also got technical ability if they want to play more football too.
“The fans are going to be massive for us, they were fantastic in what was a poor game against Bury, but they stayed behind us and we could all sense that and we need them all again on Saturday.”