Former Leyton Orient manager Omer Riza has reflected on the difficult circumstances in which he worked during the final months of last season as the Brisbane Road club were relegated from the Football League.
The former Barnet and Cambridge United striker took charge of Orient for the final seven games of the campaign, following the departure of former boss Daniel Webb.
Riza stepped up from his role as assistant manager, with his first game in charge coming with a 2-0 away defeat against Wycombe Wanderers.
The season had been overshadowed by off-field matters, with controversial owner Francesco Becchetti at the forefront of the issues surrounding the club.
As relegation became almost inevitable, Riza was placed in charge by the Italian businessman and took four points from his seven games in charge.
After successfully fighting off a winding-up order Orient were taken over by a consortium led by lifelong supporter Nigel Travis.
Former Orient boss Martin Ling was immediately appointed as the club’s new Director of Football and Riza was informed that he had to reapply for his position.
The role went to former Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis (pictured below right) and his appointment was confirmed earlier this week.
That has left Riza looking to the future, but he couldn’t help but think about what might have been at Brisbane Road.
He said “They were difficult circumstances to work in.
“Some players and staff were in the frame of mind of creating a problem from within to oust the owner.
“Although I understood the point they were trying to make it was important that we didn’t compromise the integrity of the game.
“That was my job and I feel I have been punished for that.
“The owner wasn’t around and my last contact with him was when he offered me the role.
“He said you’re in charge until the end of the season and we will sit down and talk about the position, unless I have sold the club.
“Obviously that happened and I had to reapply but I have been disappointed with the process.
“I worked at the club and knew every role well.
“To have to reapply was difficult to take. I was told to apply for a number of positions at the club and the only one I did apply for was Academy Manager but I haven’t had a reply about that role.
“In my head, that was the club telling me I wasn’t wanted there.
“I need to thank the supporters though. Since I left they have sent me some really positive messages”
Riza believes that a lack of managerial experience cost him the chance to take on the role on a permanent basis.
His only previous managerial experience came with Bostik League club Cheshunt but he insisted that a playing career that took him to into Europe, and experience working for some of English football’s biggest names, should have given him a chance of leading Orient into the National League.
“Maybe experience was a factor.
“I wish Steve Davis well in the role but it’s still tough to take. I managed in the Ryman North with Cheshunt and I have played at home and abroad.
“In Turkey and Holland I played and learnt from managers that are now in charge of national teams.
“Earlier in my career I played under Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp. At Histon I worked with David Livermore, he’s now at Millwall.
“I had Orient playing good football with a young, hungry team.
“I was doing exactly what they are asking the new manager to do with the team”
Riza revealed that he has applied to take his FA Pro Licence over the coming months and will be focusing on that.
Since leaving Orient he has received a couple of job offers, although talks are still at an early stage.
His focus has now turned firmly towards his next step, wherever that may take him.
“I am not stupid, I am realistic” he stressed.
“I might not get a full-time role, it might be an under-23s jobs, it might be a managerial role within non-league.
“I have had calls from clubs at different levels and I am trying to be positive about the whole situation.
“I have been in football for a long time, I know how the game works.
“It’s time to think carefully about my next step and use the experience I have gained at Orient in a positive way.
“There are a couple of things going on but I need to keep working hard and hopefully things will become clear in the next couple of weeks.
“I am excited about my future”.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: Reuters Media