Does Wembley beckon for the O’s?
Trips to Wembley aren’t something that Orient supporters have grown accustomed to over the years. But after reaching the semi-finals of the JPT and starting to knock on the doors of the play-offs in the league, a trip to the national stadium is starting to become slightly more tangible.
Although for a team of our size the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is probably the most realistic chance of cup glory, in the past I have found myself writing off success in the competition before we’ve even kicked a ball. JPT games occupied experimental status from our management, with the tried and tested making way for new and usually unsuccessful replacements. This usually meant that our stint in the competition was short-lived, but this season has been slightly different.
Our progression through the rounds has certainly been aided by a fortunate draw against two League Two sides and the fact that our 23 man squad is not exactly ideal for some Claudio Ranieri tinkering. Russell Slade’s hand has been forced by the size of his squad, meaning that we have played an almost full-strength starting eleven during the competition.
Although the tournament is usually regarded as an inconvenience, the risky strategy of playing the majority of first-team players is paying dividends. Not only are we now only two games away from our first trip to the new Wembley, but our league form is also reaping the benefits of our progression through the rounds.
Our current form now stands at eight wins on the bounce as we continue to pave our way into the history books of the club. I can now only pray that Russell Slade begins to place increased importance onto the competition, as we will not have a better chance of grabbing some much needed silverware in a long time.
With all due respect to Southend, Oxford and Yeovil, we should have the beating of all of these sides, and in our current form I am extremely confident of doing so. Saying this, I still believe that the league takes precedence and I would definitely sacrifice a trip to Wembley in the JPT if it meant that we could instead reach the League One play-offs come May.
Us supporters are a fickle bunch and not so long ago I felt that we would have another relegation scrap on our hands this season, but I’m now confident that we could replicate the success of the 2010/2011 campaign where we missed out on the play-offs by just a mere point.
We definitely possess enough quality to continue our rise up the division and with the likes of Scott Cuthbert and Jamie Jones returning from injury, our squad is finally looking to possess the strength in depth necessary for a real promotion push in this division.
Although good cup runs can prove to be a hindrance to success in the league, past experience proves that this isn’t necessarily the case with us. Our 2010/2011 league success was coupled with an excellent FA Cup run which saw us eventually derailed by Arsenal in the fifth round of the tournament.
Although this season’s third round trip to Hull might lack the glamour of a tie at the Emirates, the game could definitely prove to be a springboard to further increase our ever-improving league form.
So with trips to Wembley still possible in the JPT, league and FA Cup, it might be prudent for O’s fans to consider purchasing a season ticket for the stadium. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.