O’S NEED TO SHOW A BIT OF BOTTLE...
MIDFIELDER Marvin Bartley has urged the Leyton Orient “bottlers” to man up for the fight to keep the club in League One.
After losing out in the play-off final to Rotherham on penalties last term, most pundits would have expected the O’s to challenge for promotion once again this campaign.
But with new owner Francesco Becchetti taking over and a string of managers holding the reins, the east London club have had no stability – and a stinker of a season on the pitch has left them battling to stay in the third tier.
Two wins from three before the weekend has Bartley believing his team are turning the corner. Victory at Chesterfield on Valentine’s Day was Orient’s first since the turn of the year and they followed it up with a 3-0 home win against Oldham last weekend.
The fact remains, however, that they have had more managers than home league wins this season (4-3) – and are still in big trouble. Heading into the weekend, they lay second bottom, but only two points from safety.
That’s why former Burnley and Bournemouth man Bartley believes they need to step up their efforts to avoid the drop.
“I don’t think we’ve been as physical as we possibly could have and we need to man up,” he admitted. “It’s time to stand up and be counted because if we don’t then we’re going to be in trouble. Too many of us bottle tackles and I don’t think we are physical enough.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we just have to get on with it. We haven’t won enough games at home – it’s as simple as that.”
There have been murmurs that discontent is rife among Italian boss Fabio Liverani’s troops.
Indeed, Bartley celebrated the 3-2 win at Chesterfield with a tweet citing a ‘mole in the camp’, yet he insists relationships within the squad are affable and there is unity in their battle against relegation.
“There is no division in the squad at all,” insisted the 28year-old. “Everybody gets on with everyone else.
“We’ve got a new manager in and he’s trying to imprint his own style on us and we have to take it on board, so hopefully results will change for us.
“It’s not down to the manager or the coaches, though. It’s down to the players, to ourselves individually – we’ve got to put our bodies on the line.”
Home setbacks are resulting in falling attendances – 1,200 more people saw the opening day defeat to Chesterfield than last week’s thrashing of Oldham – with the Orient faithful finding little to shout about.
Confidence is contagious, according to Bartley, and if the O’s can remain positive in the stands, then it will translate to the players finding their voices on the pitch, as they bid to climb clear of the bottom four.
“The supporters have to believe because we certainly do,” he added. “If we or they stop doing that, then it makes the job much harder for us. We have to show them something on the pitch to believe in.
“You look at the team and the squad we have – we should be at the other end of the table, and we’re afraid of nobody.”
So, if there is no fear factor within the squad and no divide, then what does need to change?
“To a certain point, luck,” added Bartley. “We have missed certain chances at our end that fall to their goalkeeper and, in contrast, if it comes out to an opposition player they slot it home from a couple of yards.
“We’ve got to take each game as it comes and start picking up the results.
“Some people say you make your own luck in football and we have to do that now.
“Hopefully it is going to come right for us – it has to.”
UP FOR THE FIGHT: O’s midfielder Marvin Bartley