by Martin Ling
WHEN Ian Hendon was named manager of Leyton Orient, I jokingly said he was the second-best man for the job – after me of course!
But the club clearly knew what they were doing because Ian has done brilliantly to steer the O’s to the top of League One.
My boy, Sam, has been training with the first team for three years. He comes home and every day he’s bouncing into the room.
When I asked him what’s so good, he just said ‘We understand what Ian wants us to do’.
When the two Italians were in charge – first Mauro Milanese and then Fabio Liverani – he’d come home and say ‘the players don’t understand what he wants’.
That’s a boy of 18, and I know some of those opinions would have come second-hand from senior players.
But you can tell from talking to him that training is better, the atmosphere around the club is better. You haven’t got that split between the Italian management and the English players, everyone is pulling in the same direction.
The coaching staff – Ian, Andy Hessenthaler and Kevin Nugent – have got things going. The club is bubbling.
Going into West Ham was massive for Ian. He had that first job at Barnet, then dropped down into Non-League. Both good experiences.
But to see first-hand the way someone like Sam Allardyce works – well, if you can’t learn from someone of that quality you must have your eyes closed.
He’s been working under Sam as first-team coach on a day-to-day basis, picking up two decades of knowledge.
The Ian Hendon you’ve got now will be a totally different Ian Hendon to the guy who was wet behind the ears at Barnet, I’m sure of that.