ORIENT Chairman Barry Hearn has spoken after securing the future of the O’s management team. O’s boss Russell Slade and his coaching team of Kevin Nugent and Kevin Dearden all agreed two-year extensions to their contracts last week and Hearn is delighted to get the deals done.
“I’m really happy, it’s not a decision that was taken lightly, Russell has done a great job for us, I’m comfortable with him and I think he is a very good manager and when you’ve got good management, and we think better management than most other clubs, you make sure that you keep good management. So the extension of Russell and his team I think are well earnt and I think that the club is very fortunate to have him as their manager for the next three years,” said the O’s Chairman.
Slade is the sixth manager that Hearn has appointed in 18 years and the Chairman admits that he is one of his favourites to work with.
He said: “I like his hair style, I like his enthusiasm and he makes me feel very positive! I think he’s created a great atmosphere behind the scenes with the players, I think they like him. I think he’s passionate about his football and he’s passionate about Leyton Orient. The negotiations took a nanosecond. We both wanted to be together, so we’ve had the engagement and we’ve gone flat out with the marriage. I’m very, very pleased to have him on board he makes my life easier and he inspires me to think that this club can actually go somewhere.”
Despite his admiration for Slade, who is now the seventh longest serving manager in the country, Hearn also believes that he still has progress to make.
“Finishing seventh two years out of three, I think we would normally bite peoples arms off at that, so we’re now getting a bit ambitious. We’re now thinking about ok that’s great but what’s the next level? The next level is to try and get into the championship and that’s what we’re going to try and do this year. We’ve got a very decent squad, we’ve got some outstanding players, we are working under a very tight budget, it’s the 60 per cent rule which I thoroughly endorse, but it does makes Russell’s job harder but it means that he has got to manage. I think there are times when I think I could manage Manchester City or Chelsea, I’m not the special one, I’m not even the happy one, but if I had their budgets, the job gets a bit easier doesn’t it when you can just sieve through and just go I want him, him and him.
“But Russell’s got a really tough job, Russell is what I call a proper football manager, he’s got to manage not just the budget and the fans expectancy and the payers demands and desires, put that together and it’s a very difficult problem to solve but I think we have got the right man for the job.”
In terms of his own position at the O’s, Hearn admits he is enjoying himself as Chairman and believes there to be a great buzz around the Club at the moment.
“I’m having a good time, I’m enjoying new backroom staff on the commercial and media side, I’ve got not a little bit more time, but I’ve got more interest to be more at Orient because there is a buzz about the place, we’ve got a pitch that might look like a football pitch when the sand goes, I’m very happy with the management situation, I’m really happy with some of the players, a lot of the players, I think we have got the classiest side of footballers, not the biggest squad, but the classiest side of footballers that I can remember for a long, long, long time. I particularly like our defence, nothing wrong with the midfielders or forwards but the defence looks rock solid to me and I think we can have an optimistic start, if we could start a little bit quicker out of the blocks we could cause a few teams a problem this year.”
Finally in terms of the Olympic Stadium, Hearn admits there is unlikely to be in progress on that front until the autumn.
“Obviously the oral submission application (for Judicial Review) has been put forward to the courts, but the way the courts and the traditional system is working I think it will probably be September before that case is heard, but were not going anywhere, we’ve made our point and we’ve paid our lawyers and were waiting for justice, so let’s hope we get it in September.”