Jobi McAnuff insisted it was not a difficult decision for him to drop down from the Championship this summer in pursuit of promotion with Leyton Orient.
The 32-year-old winger was released by Reading at the end of last season and he had the chance to stay in the second tier of English football.
But McAnuff opted to step down to League 1 with the O’s, after penning a two-year deal last month, and the attacker insists Orient’s ambition convinced him to move down a level.
McAnuff said: “It wasn’t that difficult a decision if I’m honest. From my point of view it’s about being at a club that is trying to achieve things and have that ambition to be successful. Whatever level you’re playing at or in any walk of life, you want to be somewhere you can try and achieve things and push yourself.
“I had a few options which, with all due respect to the clubs, were probably middle of the road Championship teams. For me I needed something to get me up and drive me on and obviously that was Leyton Orient.
“It’s a great project and a very ambitious one. It’s one I’m very pleased to be a part of and hope to be a cog in a successful next few years.”
McAnuff was one of seven signings during this summer as Russell Slade was handed the opportunity to build a strong squad under new owner Francesco Becchetti. The former Watford midfielder is determined to help take his new side into the Championship and hopes they can avoid the uncertainty of the play-offs after Orient’s trauma last season.
He said: “I’ve been a part of a few play-offs myself over the years and I think automatic promotion is certainly the preferred choice. But at the end of the day the goal is just to get promoted however that comes. There are a lot of good teams that I’m sure would fancy getting into the top two, so we’ve just got to put ourselves in a position to do that and see where we go.”
The O’s have yet to find their fluent best this season, which is no surprise considering the influx of players over the last month. McAnuff believes it will take a bit of time for him and the team to gel but expects the experience of the summer additions to make the difference this year.
“First things first, I’ve come into a very successful team from the get go,” McAnuff said. “Obviously they were very unlucky not to go up last year after a fantastic season so the history is there in terms of being able to do it on the pitch. Hopefully the new additions can add to that with a bit of quality and experience. You just look at the lads we’ve brought in and there’s real experience with people that have been there and done it at a good level.
“It’s just about trying to gel together as quickly as we can which is often difficult with the amount of games we’ve got. But there’s definitely great quality in the squad. I think we showed tonight against a big club in this division, and one that’s expected to be up there, that we are a match for anyone.”
The Jamaica international made his first league start for the O’s on Tuesday night in their 0-0 draw at Bristol City. McAnuff is still trying to get up to speed after a limited pre-season but insists his 80-minute run-out at Ashton Gate was a step forward.
“It’s been a frustrating time,” he admitted.
“Obviously you want to be a bit more involved but from a fitness point of view I’ve still got a bit of work to do.
“Tonight was important from that point of view starting and getting some minutes under my belt. Hopefully I can take that on now.
“I’ve only been in three weeks training wise and with the amount of games we’ve had it’s been hard to do the work you’d like to have done on the training ground.
“For the new lads, it’s just about getting that bond and togetherness and knitting that with what we’ve had coming into a successful team.”
Orient have travelled more than 1,200 miles in the last week after matches at Plymouth Argyle, Oldham Athletic and the Robins.
McAnuff believes the road trips have helped the new players bed in but is looking forward to returning to Brisbane Road this weekend for a game against Walsall.
He said: “It’s been an interesting start fixture wise and we’ve still got a few more miles to clock up yet.
“It’s just the way it’s gone this year. For some of the new lads it’s been good because it’s given us a chance to be around the boys and it’s a great group to come into.
“We had a real good win away on penalties and a good victory at Oldham and now a point, so three unbeaten on the road is good and we’ll look to try and get that first win at home now.”