Jonny Davies: A flurry of phone calls en route and we had a new keeper by the time we got to the hotel
The O Zone: Life behind the scenes at Leyton Orient
Tuesday 14 January 2014
There may not be much happening in the transfer window at the top end of the game, but in League One clubs have been getting players in. Four have arrived at Leyton Orient and our injury-hit squad is looking a bit deeper.
Of utmost importance to Russell Slade, the gaffer, when he brings someone in is a player's character and approach. Upon learning a player is available he'll speak to scouts to get opinions on their technical ability then, if they pass that test, begin scrolling through his phone book calling people he's worked with who know the player in question, so he can paint a picture of the player's character.
Even I help out occasionally by digging out some stats on targets when asked to, though I don't think I was in his good books on Wednesday when he popped in to use my phone charger. We had a chat for about 20 minutes while he waited and it was only when he said "How's my phone getting on?" that I realised I hadn't plugged it in…
At the time of writing he's still working to bring one more striker in, but he did manage to get a goalkeeper last week, which he has been keen to do. Some deals are done over a few days, others weeks, while some are finalised on the bus. The squad left for Shrewsbury on Tuesday with one senior goalkeeper and by the time we made it to the hotel we had two.
The wheels had been set in motion to bring in Eldin Jakupovic from Hull the night before with a verbal agreement. The finer details were arranged with a flurry of phone calls on the coach before we got the final clearance that he could play that evening against the Shrews.
Eldin arrived just as the squad piled in for the first of two meals at around 1pm, with the usual chicken, scrambled egg, jacket potatoes, and carbonara available. Often a new lad will have had plenty of time to bed in to the group but for Eldin there was no time to waste as he sat down with our goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden after the meal to go through routines and plans while Ada, the kit man, fetched him a club tracksuit to wear as he looked a bit out of place in his jeans and T-shirt.
The players have bedrooms for the afternoon and most got their heads down. A couple had a massage and Mike, the physio, found a ball and a patch of grass outside the front of the hotel, where midfielder Lloyd James had a fitness test. He passed, then went to his room to rest.
The second meal at 4:30pm is lighter with cereals and toast, with the atmosphere more subdued as the game ticks closer. The team meeting takes place immediately before we leave for the ground. It is then the team is announced, key messages agreed and video clips of tactics shown.
It must have been a lot for Eldin to take in, but he managed to keep a clean sheet in an important 2-0 win. We followed up on Saturday with a thumping 4-0 victory over Carlisle. It could come down to fine margins at the end of the season and only Manchester City have a better goal difference among English league clubs.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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