Following the incredible under-20 World Cup success with England, Andy Edwards says he is indebted to former Leyton Orient assistant manager Kevin Nugent.
Andy Edwards the ex O’s boss and Academy Director had his last match as Leyton Orient manager before handing in his resignation on January 29 a little over 4 months ago.
He has paid tribute to some of his old staff at Leyton Orient after recently helping England win the under-20 World Cup earlier this month a far cry from the disappointment and disillusionment he felt when in charge of the O’s earlier in the year. The 45-year-old left Brisbane Road at the end of January to take up a role as an out-of-possession coach with the Football Association.
Edwards was part of the successful England coaching team out in Korea, as Paul Simpson’s Young Lions won the prestigious tournament. Simpson himself had spent many a season at lower league clubs although he will probably always be known as a Manchester City player.
Edwards saw it all at Brisbane Road and after ending a seven-year stay at Orient, Edwards was fortunate enough to be part of a group, which achieved victory at the under-20 World Cup, the first time an England team had won a major competition since the senior side in 1966.
But after properly starting his coaching career as O’s youth-team manager back in 2009, Edwards has not forgotten his roots.
He said: “I owe a lot to (Orient’s former assistant manager) Kevin Nugent for putting my name forward for the youth-team role over seven years ago. I will always be thankful to ‘Kev’ and ultimately very thankful to Matt Porter (Orient’s former CEO) as well as (ex-chairman) Barry Hearn and a lot of other people at the club at that time. We were all committed 24/7 and the academy vastly improved over the years I was there and we got success in that regard.
“Obviously we saw the success the first-team had under Barry, Matt, Russell (Slade) and Kevin in reaching the play-off final. The reason behind that was because the club was very well run and structured with people that committed themselves and wanted to achieve at the club. Orient is a fantastic club with good history, good tradition and good support and everywhere you looked at a particular time, there were good people there whether it was the commercial side, the media or the football side.”
“You always had good people there who were trying to overachieve in every department and obviously what has happened to it now is heartbreaking.”
While Edwards has gone on to achieve success since leaving Orient, the club has gone from bad to worse. Unless you were hiding under a rock you would have known that Leyton Orient finished bottom of League Two at the end of the 2016/17 campaign and as a result suffered relegation to the National League.
Chairman Francesco Becchetti went through five different managers with Edwards spending just over two months in charge. Not a long period of time overall but enough for him to understand after 7 ears at the club exactly what was going on.
After making the difficult decision to resign as Orient boss on January 29, the ex-Academy Director played his part in helping England win a World Cup competition for the first time since Sir Alf Ramsey’s Lions had won the honours.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the only goal of the game for England to help them earn a 1-0 win over Venezuela in the final of under-20 World Cup.
Edwards celebrated the Young Lions triumph on Sunday June 11 with head coach Simpson and the other members of staff in Korea.
He said “Has it sunk in yet? Yes and no! It was a brilliant achievement and a really good experience. We had a week in Japan and then four weeks in Korea and an England under-20 team had not won a World Cup group game in 20-odd years, so the initial goal was to do that and get out of the group. As the tournament went on we just improved and it shows we have some very good players at that age group.”
With Edwards not focused on trying to help England win the under-20 World Cup anymore, the local resident is hoping the future of his club becomes clearer soon.
Edwards, the ex-Southend United defender did hope to see Orient beat relegation, although he conceded at the time they were unlikely to do so.
Ahead of the 2017/18 National League campaign, almost all of the current squad at Brisbane Road are youngsters first developed and natured by Edwards in the academy.
He therefore hopes Orient’s future is clarified soon, adding: “Nobody knows what is going on with the ownership of the club and whether it will be sold or not. All the senior players have left and it is a fresh start, but whoever is managing the team next season needs the opportunity to put a squad together.
“The National League is a really tough division. I have played in it and worked in the Conference and the way it stands at the moment, it doesn’t take an expert to see it is going to be really difficult for Orient with the current group of young players. As talented as they are, they need experience in there and players who know the level and can physically compete and give the youngsters a platform to push on.
“There are some really talented young players at Orient and there is a danger their potential won’t get recognised because of the situation they are in. It is going to be really tough for the club, especially with the way things stand at the moment, so I am sure the fans know if they can consolidate next season then it will be success.
“Look at Lincoln City. After five years they are back in the Football League, but you also have York City who have been relegated again. You have to be realistic. You need structure and leadership at the club, which it has not got at the moment.”