McAnuff guided by Edinburgh’s memory as he navigates life in the Orient dugout

Leyton Orient player-coach Jobi McAnuff says Justin Edinburgh is influencing him and the rest of the coaching staff at Brisbane Road.

Six months ago the former Tottenham defender died at the age of 49 after a cardiac arrest.

Weeks earlier Edinburgh had been on the touchline at Wembley for the FA Trophy final and in April led the club to National League title success.

Justin Edinburgh died in June
Justin Edinburgh died in June (Nigel French/PA)

The O’s have struggled since the death of their manager and sit 19th in League Two, with assistant Ross Embleton – supported by McAnuff and first-team coach Danny Webb – back in charge on an interim basis after Carl Fletcher was sacked following 29 days in the managerial hotseat.

Orient’s captain and key member of the management team admits Edinburgh remains a guiding figure.

McAnuff told PA news agency: “If things are going well you wish Justin was here to enjoy that and know he would be leading everything and full of life and when things are not going as well, he would certainly be there at the front of the queue making sure we pull our socks up.

“People like that come into your life for a reason and there are still so many things we can take from our time with him that I’m using and I know Ross and Webby and the lads are.

“For me that is the positive impact he had on us and he has left us with things we’re now using to help deal with this situation. We will crack on and give it our best shot.”

Edinburgh was Orient manager for 18 months, but achieved a huge amount in a short space of time to create a legacy.

Jobi McAnuff has stepped in
Jobi McAnuff has stepped in (Barrington Coombs/PA)

This week also marked two years since his first win in charge – a 4-1 victory at home to then-leaders Sutton – and McAnuff feels time can be a healer.

He added: “There is no magic wand and no cure for something as devastating as that and we’re all still dealing with.

“We feel we’re doing the best we can but it is something that needs time and we’re hoping with time and the learning we’re making it will help to make us stronger in the long run.”

On Saturday, after Orient host Bradford, a charity gala dinner will take place in Hainault to celebrate Edinburgh’s upcoming 50th birthday.

The Justin Edinburgh 3 Foundation, set up by son Charlie and the family, are presenting the black tie event with all proceeds going to the charity, which aims to change the law to ensure all health and fitness clubs across the UK are equipped with defibrillators.

“It’s to celebrate Justin, enjoy the night and get everyone in a room to have a laugh because that’s what he would have wanted,” McAnuff, a trustee for the charity, said.

“Anything we can raise, and I’m sure it will do fantastic, would be a great start to help move the foundation forward and start getting us to make the changes we are passionate about.”

Edinburgh will never be forgotten by Orient
Edinburgh will never be forgotten by Orient (Chris Radburn/PA)

Embleton, Webb and McAnuff would love to head to the gala dinner with three points and end O’s nine-game winless run, but knew the challenges this season would bring.

“We want to be a lot higher and looking forward, but I believe we’ll get there,” McAnuff added.

“Although we are a Football League club in every respect, it is a matter of building and stabilising again.

“Is it a different conversation if Justin is still here? Of course, but what has happened has happened. It has to be taken into account.

“It is not an excuse or a negative in terms of people using it to not do well, but you have to tag a bit of realism onto that situation and see the effect it has had on the dynamics of the club and the group.

“Now we need to use this time as wisely as we can to reestablish ourselves and give ourselves the chance to kick on.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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