Slade targets the playoffs following FA Cup exit
The Orient boss is determined to put defeat at Arsenal behind them.
LEYTON ORIENT manager Russell Slade feels the character his side showed in their unflattering FA Cup exit to Arsenal, will help them achieve their primary goal of a place in the League One playoffs.
A journey which began at Dagenham & Redbridge and ended at The Emirates Stadium, via a miserable Monday night in Droylsden, has given the O’s squad a sense of belief that has transpired to just two defeats from 23 games and propelled them up the table.
While Slade admitted his side were outclassed in the 5-0 fifth round replay defeat, he feels his players will benefit from the experience of their rollercoaster cup run and push on to a top-six finish.
“That’s only our second defeat in 23, if we can keep that going there’s no reason in the World why we can’t make that top six, it would be wonderful really,” said Slade.
“It would be one of my best achievements, to stop them going down and immediately turn them around.
“It was a difficult night, but we need to go away and learn from that, and try to re-establish a momentum in our league, and try and push on and see if we can retain a top-six spot with the 16 remaining games that we’ve got.
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“I think with the group that we’ve got and the belief in the way we play, even in defeat, I think you saw a group trying to go forward, who never gave up and its those sorts of qualities that we’re gonna require in our quest to get out of this league and into the next one.
“Its not gonna be easy, because we don’t have the budget of some of the bigger clubs in League One, but we have a real desire and a really hungry group of players who want to achieve, and if we didn’t we wouldn’t have had the journey that we’ve had in the FA Cup, which has been quite remarkable really.
“Eight games and finally a defeat at Arsenal and I don’t think there’s any disgrace in that.”
There’s certainly not.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had similar praise for Leyton Orient’s desire, but felt Marouane Chamakh’s seventh minute strike was the key to a comfortable night for the home side. Quite the opposite from the first meeting between the two at Brisbane Road.
“I found them a bit sharper in the first game, they felt they had a chance at home and we scored early as well today and never gave them a chance,” said Wenger.
“They defended better (in the first game). The pitch was not exactly of the same quality.
“I give them credit for always trying to play, I said that to their manager, because they try to play football and they do that in a very positive way.
“They are on a long unbeaten run as well in League One, so I think they have done very well.”
Slade is now keen to put Orient’s cup exploits, which has seen them take the scalps of Championship pair Norwich and Swansea, behind them and focus on the game against Notts County on Saturday.
Almost 9,000 Orient supporters travelled to see their side at The Emirates and while the O’s boss expects a far smaller crowd at Brisbane Road on Saturday, he hopes big games like this will soon be more frequent for the east Londoners.
“It’s gone now, we’ve had our experience and we have to move on. I’m sure we will, because I think we have a really good group, who have the appetite to push on,” said Slade.
“I think we had just under 9000 tonight, I’m not sure how long it will be until we take that many away from home again, hopefully not too long, in the playoffs or something like that. “They were absolutely magnificent, they’ve enjoyed the journey too and they stayed right behind the team right until the last minute and that’s been appreciated.
“We just need to work hard together to push this team further up the table.”