Dan Marsh looks at Ross Embleton’s time as Leyton Orient manager.
Few clubs in recent memory have faced such adversity as Leyton Orient. However, their recent chequered history paled in comparison to the tragedy of losing their beloved Head Coach Justin Edinburgh this summer.
Edinburgh was responsible for rejuvenating a proud club that was on its knees prior to his arrival, dragging Orient from the verge of dropping into the National League South to a stunning promotion back to the English Football League. In a cruel twist of fate, Edinburgh’s untimely passing occurred just weeks after securing such a monumental accolade.
In the immediate aftermath, the trio of Ross Embleton, Danny Webb and Jobi McAnuff have been so much more than just a coaching team leading the club. The trio have admirably stepped up to steer the club through unchartered waters, with Embleton taking the helm.
Embleton – who has been the club’s interim Head Coach – is Orient through and through, and it should be no surprise that he has stepped up so admirably in his club’s hour of need. Embleton was also Edinburgh’s right-hand man and has spoken of how he felt it was his responsibility to step-up.
As previously mentioned, Embleton and his team have been so much more than just football coaches, they’ve become a support network and a pillar of strength for everyone associated with the club. By doing so, the trio – and Embleton in particular – stepped selflessly into the unknown.
Under Embleton, the club have not only adapted to their tragic loss of Edinburgh, but also the step up from non-league. It’s easy in the circumstances to overlook the mitigating factors on the pitch. Orient had to replace their two leading scorers in Macauley Bonne and Josh Koroma after they departed for the Championship. Replacing 34 goals at is no mean feat at the best of times, but the club, along with Director of Football Martin Ling, appear to have uncovered unpolished gems in the form of Lee Angol and Conor Wilkinson.
Perhaps Embleton’s biggest critic has been himself, because the underlying figures and performances show that Orient have more than competed and held their own. Their current position of 17th doesn’t portray the whole story, but in a tight league, Orient are just three points behind Colchester who are in eighth place and flirting with the play-off spots.
Embleton has handled himself in a dignified manner, helping to stabilise his club with class, passion and modesty. His own admission of blame for a torrid first half in the aftermath of a 3-1 defeat to Swindon Town back in September was no less than you’d expect from the man. There’s no doubt that having a voice known and respected by the players has helped to get the club back on an even keel. But the humility and honesty shown by Embleton throughout his tenure has gone above and beyond to ensuring that Orient are more than just a stable club at this level.
Orient owner Kent Teague hinted to the imminent appointment of a new manager on Saturday after the match, with sources indicating Carl Fletcher is the favoured candidate.
Fletcher, or whoever is appointed, will inherit a resilient and proficient squad moulded by the blueprints of Embleton just as much as Edinburgh before him, even if he is far too humble to acknowledge such an accolade. Regardless, there’s no doubt that Embleton’s bravery and leadership has done both his club and his gaffer proud over the past few months.
You can follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielMarsh92