WHO’D be a coach?
Just four rounds into the AFL season and already some clipboard holders are having to deal with chatter about whether their job is safe.
Nathan Buckley’s Collingwood has started poorly in what is a crunch year for the club and Hawthorn mentor Alastair Clarkson lamented his side’s “rubbish” performance against Geelong on Easter Monday that saw it slump to its fourth consecutive loss.
It might seem cruel to speculate about what the tarot cards are showing for coaches this early in the year, but the footy world has already had plenty to say about the men under the most pressure in 2017.
NATHAN BUCKLEY (COLLINGWOOD)
‘IT’LL BE A MIRACLE IF HE’S STILL THERE’
Buckley is facing the prospect of an ugly separation from the club that claims him as one of its favourite sons.
Since taking over the reins from long-time mentor Mick Malthouse in 2012, he guided the Pies to September footy in his first two years in charge but they haven’t been seen in prime time since 2013.
The signs aren’t good in 2017 after three losses in four games and the death knell is getting louder for the 44-year-old. North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey says Collingwood is lacking an effective game plan, something Buckley is responsible for.
“I look at Collingwood … to me their game plan is fairly simplistic,” Carey said on Triple M. “If they don’t bring manic pressure in and around the footy and tackle, they lose. They’re not good enough.
“Other than that, do you know what sort of game plan they have? Pressure isn’t a game plan … it’s not a style.”
Collingwood sits 13th and although it’s still early days, Carey says Buckley will be out the door if the team doesn’t climb its way into the top eight by season’s end.
“You’re judged on Ws (wins) and Ls (losses) and the way things are looking for Bucks, you almost say it’s a matter of time,” Carey said.
“It’ll be a miracle if he’s there, let’s be honest. They’re not going to be playing finals, given their start.
“I don’t think they’ll get close to making finals … and if they do it’ll be a miracle. I think Nathan is a realist.”
Before the season Buckley said he was aware it was finals or bust, but if question marks over his management of players continue to arise he may be lucky to make it to the end of the year.
He was hammered for leaving captain Scott Pendlebury on the bench for much of the third quarter in Collingwood’s loss to St Kilda on Sunday when the game was in the balance, leading to further concerns over his decision making.
“I can’t believe he (Pendlebury) has sat 14 minutes on the bench in a game that was there to be won — that is unbelievable,” Ex-Geelong star Cameron Ling said while commentating the game for 3AW radio.
“You’ve got to have your captain and superstar on the ground — unless he is injured.
“It’s either the coach Nathan Buckley or it’s a case of bloody sports science gone mad. You can’t have Scott Pendlebury sitting on the bench if the bloke is not injured, you’ve got to win the game.”
Pendlebury defended Buckley in the aftermath, saying he wasn’t the one responsible for keeping him on the sideline for so long. But whatever the semantics may be, only more wins will save the coach.
ALASTAIR CLARKSON (HAWTHORN)
‘HOW’S THIS TUB OF LARD GOING TO PRODUCE ANYTHING?’
Even four premierships in a decade can’t buy you coaching immortality.
That’s the story for Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson, who’s seen his side lose its first four games, the latest a humiliating 86-point drubbing at the hands of Geelong on Easter Monday.
Clarkson started his tenure at the Hawks in 2005 and since then he’s resided over one of the most dominant eras in AFL history. But all good things must come to an end, a sentiment hinted at by former Hawks president Jeff Kennett.
“I’ve always believed … a leadership position should normally be occupied between six and nine years,” Kennett told SEN’s breakfast program. “If you haven’t achieved what you want to in that period of time, you might as well give it away for someone else.
“If you have achieved what you want, then you ought to give it away, so that someone else can keep the momentum going.
“Clarko has been there a long time, Eddie McGuire has been (Collingwood president) longer than the Ark — is this all good for those organisations?”
While questioning Clarkson’s future, Kennett made sure to praise the 48-year-old for delivering a stack of silverware to the club.
“I just say to our supporters, even 10 years ago, if you asked me if we could win one premiership in the next 10 years, would you be happy? The answer would be yes,” he said.
“To have won four — we are a very fortunate club and there are a lot of people responsible for that, and one of them is Clarko.”
Kennett said one of Clarkson’s biggest strengths was his ability to get the best out of players who many believed were past their prime. He brought veteran defender Brian Lake to the club from the Western Bulldogs and he won the Norm Smith medal for best on ground in the 2013 grand final, while Stuart Dew won a premiership in 2008 in his first season with the Hawks after coming out of retirement.
“When we picked up Stewy Dew from Port Adelaide, I was president and I thought, ‘How are we going to get this lump of lard to produce anything?’ And yet with due respect in that grand final, they turned on a display that won us the flag,” Kennett said.
“On one hand you can’t be critical of those you employ if they win you flags if on other occasions they make decisions that don’t give you the results you want on a week by week basis. In tough times, good characters, good cultures survive.”
Former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams is one man who believes Clarkson’s time is nearly up, encouraging him to part ways with the club he’s nurtured for so long to preserve his legacy.
“The time has come for you to leave Hawthorn,” Williams wrote in a column for the Herald Sun.
“My advice to Clarko is to get out at season’s end. You reached the summit an incredible four times in eight years, you’re a career coach, you’ve done a wonderful job and no one will ever forget you or talk badly of your decision if you do leave.
“There is a finishing line at a club. Why not pick it rather than the suits?”
Williams said he should have left Port after the club’s grand final loss in 2007 but carried on for three disappointing years which he believes ended his head coaching career. He doesn’t want Clarkson to suffer the same fate.
“Alastair Clarkson has become a coaching legend not only for his fighting spirit and tenacity, but for his ability to read the tactical tea leaves,” Williams wrote.
“It’s the off-field tea leaves he needs to read now. Your currency can fade quickly in this caper.
“Stay and run that risk or leave and keep the flame burning.”
RODNEY EADE (GOLD COAST)
‘I DON’T THINK HE’LL BE COACH NEXT YEAR’
After two losses to start the season and superstar Gary Ablett copping flak for one off game, many were fearing the worst for Rodney Eade.
An embarrassing loss to Queensland rivals Brisbane Lions was followed by a 102-point thumping to GWS and all hope looked lost for the Suns, who have underperformed since coming into the competition in 2011.
Eade took over in 2015, a year in which the Suns finished 16th, and they were just as poor in coming 15th last season. Ablett requested a trade back to Geelong and the signs pointed to more misery on the Gold Coast.
But two matches later and you’d think those knives being sharpened were getting put back in their sheaths. The Suns responded to the early season turmoil in round three by smoking Hawthorn by 86 points then followed that up with a win over Carlton on Sunday.
However, there are still those who think Eade’s time on the Queensland party strip will soon be over. Footy Show host Craig Hutchison is one of them, believing even a maiden finals win won’t be enough to save his job.
“I don’t think he’ll be the coach next year,” Hutchison said on Monday night’s episode of Footy Classified. “I think he’ll end up in football in a very senior role somewhere next year as a football strategist.”
Eade has 18 more games — and hopefully a finals campaign — to prove him wrong.
— Footy Classified (@FootyClassified) April 17, 2017
SOURCE: newsnow sport