O’S SO HAPPY BOSS
Kevin Nolan had the bubbly out after being named Orient player-manager
KEVIN Nolan got lost en route to his unveiling as Leyton Orient manager on Friday, arriving at Brisbane Road more than an hour late.
And even though his predecessors have barely lasted five minutes in the job since Italian billionaire Francesco Becchetti bought the club, Nolan is confident swatting up on his east London geography won’t be a waste of time.
The former West Ham captain becomes the sixth man to take charge of Orient since Becchetti’s arrival in 2014 with recently sacked Ian Hendon’s seven-month tenure the longest anyone has been granted to attempt to make their mark.
But that does not faze player-manager Nolan.
“I did not really look at what happened with previous managers of this club before signing,” said the 33-year-old, an hour and a quarter after his first meeting with the media was scheduled to begin.
“When I joined West Ham, I got slated because I’d just left Newcastle where I’d been top scorer and had gone down to West Ham, who’d just got relegated.
“If there’s one thing I like, it’s a challenge so when I heard that stat that I was the sixth manager, I thought it’d be a challenge for me.
“I know everyone thinks I’ll only be here for seven months but come the end of my two-and-a-half year contract, everyone will be asking me how long my next contract will be.”
Though it’s early days for Nolan the manager, he is already certain he will be wearing a tracksuit rather than a suit in the dugout.
And, should the goals flow, there will be no chicken dance celebration on the sidelines. He does not want to be the sideshow.
But it’s already clear Nolan is certainly not lacking in confidence and backs himself to be the man to guide the O’s out of League Two.
“I’m hoping to be as successful as Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson,” he laughed.
“But the serious aim is that at the end of my two-and-a-half years that Leyton Orient won’t be a League Two club.
“I don’t want to be playing in this league for a number of years. With the personnel and the quality we have in the squad, we’re good enough to mix it in League One.
“We have got some very talented individuals and with myself coming in as a player from the Premier League, that’ll give us pressure but I thrive on pressure.
“Hopefully by the end of season, it’ll come up trumps and we’ll all be celebrating.
“If over the next four months we don’t quite make it, next year will be the one where we’ll be wanting to get into League One.
“Then we’ll be pushing to get into the Championship as soon as possible, but first and foremost I’m not looking beyond May. “I’ve got a job to do and I firmly believe that I will get
this club out of the league. That’s what Francesco wants, that’s what he pays me for.”
Nolan is the youngest boss in the Football League, two months the junior of Wigan Athletic’s Gary Caldwell.
And he admits he has become a manager quicker than he ever expected.
“I’ve always thought about getting into management, but I never thought it would be this early,” he said.
“I always had the intention of staying in football as a player as long as I could after I left West Ham.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who’ve retired and they told me to keep playing for as long as I can.
“I’m hoping that in two-and-a-half years, I can extend my contract both as a player and a manager.”
Although the midfielder trained with Orient after leaving West Ham in August, he did not sign a contract to play and confesses not having a club had taken a toll on him and his family.
“When I knew I was coming to the club, I got the best bit of sleep I’ve had for a while,” he revealed.
“Doing the training session on Thursday was strange but I thought it all went along well, so I was really pleased to get home after the announcement.
“I got home to my wife and my kids and there they were standing there with champagne glasses, my kids had orange juice in them, shouting congratulations.
“It’s had a massive effect on them which is nice, because I think they want to start coming and watching football again and Leyton Orient is a fantastic place to go to.”
IN-FORM: John Akinde HEYDAY: Kevin Nolan playing in the Premier League for West Ham and, inset, at the Leyton Orient press conference