Will Spring’s departure signal a change of direction for Orient boss Slade?
Few remain from the class of 2010-11
The departure of midfielder Matt Spring and the new restrictive wage-capping system may force Orient manager Russell Slade into a change of direction during the season ahead.
Spring’s exit from Brisbane Road sees the further break-up of the hugely entertaining Orient team that missed the play-offs by a single point during the 2010-11 campaign and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Since then Alex Revell, Charlie Daniels and Stephen Dawson have been sold, Scott McGleish and Terrell Forbes released and Elliot Omozusi had his contract cancelled. Now Spring has joined Wycombe – leaving Jamie Jones, Ben Chorley, Jimmy Smith and Dean Cox as the survivors.
The O’s boss had hoped to keep the influential Spring and the experienced campaigner would have been happy to stay. Once Slade had his four summer targets in place he was hoping to be able to tie up a deal with the former Charlton man.
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But Spring, who found himself in limbo, opted to join the Chairboys on a two-year deal, as the O’s boss was forced to slash his budget by around �400,000 because of the cap, which left him with very little room to manoeuvre.
The exits of Dawson and Daniels were major losses, but the departure of Spring will be just as keenly felt.
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He was a virtual ever-present during his two-year stay at Brisbane Road and so often was the player who made things tick.
Spring orchestrated the play, picking up possession and then pulling the strings. He rarely gave the ball away and even though Orient struggled last season, he still was one of their most consistent performers.
If Slade wants to continue playing the same way it’s hard to see who can fill Spring’s shoes. Anthony Griffith arrives with a reputation as a ball winner rather than a playmaker and is the obvious replacement for Dawson, while Smith occasionally linked things up last term and Cox also drifted into a central role at times.
Spring’s departure may give Marc Laird the chance to make an impression following his move from Millwall a year ago, but the experienced midfielder will be a hard act to follow.
After struggling to beat the drop last season Slade looks to be assembling a squad that will give little away.
Orient launch their pre-season campaign at Sutton next Wednesday when the ‘shape’ of things to come might be more apparant.
With such a threadbare squad at his disposal as the wage-capping system takes its toll, the Orient chief has little scope.
Lloyd James, who was released by Colchester, has confirmed via Twitter that he will spend a couple of weeks on trial at the O’s – and he could be the first of several triallists during the weeks ahead as Slade looks to strengthen his paper-thin squad and turn them into a more durable outfit next season.