By Tony Leighton

Teams managed by Russell Slade almost habitually make slow starts to the season, but don't be critical of the Leyton Orient boss - he can do that himself thank you very much, and with a nice slice of humour.

Orient have, in fact, broken the Slade habit this term and sit in the top half of the npower League 1 table as the season moves into October.

And, as he reflected on the opening spell of his team's campaign, Slade told football-league.co.uk: "This is a fantastic start for me.

"I'm not renowned for making good starts and didn't really get one this season because we lost the first three games. I normally wake up in about October and my teams generally then improve. Hopefully this season will no different - but to be in the top half at the start of October is quite extreme for me."

Orient certainly improved on their start two seasons ago, when they built a strong promotion challenge but finished just one place below the Play-Offs.

Last term was a disappointment, though - the O's finishing one place above the relegation zone.

"Last season was very difficult," said Slade. "We sold a number of players, we had seven goalkeepers and we had ten left-backs and it was a very messy season for one reason or another. We had a host of injuries as well, so it was a forgettable season.

"It was important in the end just to stay in the division and rebuild, and that's what we've tried to do. We've rebuilt in a different direction in many ways.

"There's more physicality in our side this season because I felt the league had changed somewhat and we needed to balance that up. We were a good footballing side but probably lacked a little bit of physicality."

Orient's footballing qualities and physicality will be tested throughout what Slade feels will be a highly competitive League 1 campaign.

The manager said: "Every week in this league there's a challenge, every team is different. We've got Sheffield United on Saturday and that will be a big test for us, but we know that if we beat them we can maybe move up into the top eight.

"At this stage of the season though, everything is so very, very tight and in terms of the table it doesn't really settle down for another three or four games yet.

"We're into the part of the league programme now where there are two games a week, they come thick and fast and it really does test the depth of your squad. We've only got a small squad so we're going to be tested severely over the coming weeks."

Can Orient come through those tests to replicate their promotion push of two years ago? "Possibly," said Slade. "It's difficult to know because that [2010/11] team improved over the season. It didn't start off fantastically well but it improved.

"That's what I'm hoping this season's team will do as we get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses - and I'm sure that we will improve."

For all the latest news on Leyton Orient please click here