Nathan Buckley’s stay of execution has been extended until the end of the AFL season with Collingwood declaring it won’t decide on his coaching position until then.
Magpies chief executive Gary Pert on Tuesday left the door open to the former skipper remaining at the helm of the AFL heavyweights in 2018 despite their ever-diminishing win rate under his watch.
With Buckley by his side, Pert took the unusual step of addressing the players and football department to let them know the coach was safe until after round 23, so their performance could still influence the eventual outcome.
Buckley wasn’t given a guarantee that seven victories from the remaining seven rounds would save his Collingwood coaching career, with the club so far banking just five wins to sit in 15th.
But he hoped the backing of the Magpies board would take off some of the pressure on both himself and his players, who complained following their fourth successive loss on Saturday that the speculation he would either walk away or be sacked imminently was proving a distraction.
“I’ve been told by the board that there’s no decision until the end of the season and the players are aware of that and the footy program’s aware of that,” Buckley told the media.
“I suppose for what it’s worth it helps us maintain our focus week by week over the next seven-week period.”
Despite his winning percentage declining in each year of his coaching to now sit as just 33 per cent, Buckley said he never considered walking away from the club before the end of the season and was happy to have his position backed by the board.
“I knew where it sat but the fact that it’s been reinforced doesn’t hurt.”
Collingwood players including skipper Scott Pendlebury have publicly supported their coach, saying he deserves another season.
Buckley, who has been coach since 2012, said it was great to have that player support but they had to deliver on field.
He was adamant the team could still improve.
“Absolutely we can (progress) and the next seven weeks will be looked after by this weekend first and foremost so that will be where we put all of our energy,” Buckley said.
“Performance is king and we need to back up our words, whether it’s players, coaches or the club in general.”
The Magpies on Saturday face struggling Gold Coast, whose coach Rodney Eade is similarly under siege.
“We want to win every game, we still want to do that, and it starts by performing better against Gold Coast,” Buckley said.
NATHAN BUCKLEY’S WIN-LOSS RECORD
2012 – 25 games, 17 wins, 8 losses, 0 draws, 68.0% winning percentage
2013 – 23, 14 , 9, 0, 60.9%
2014 – 22, 11, 11, 0, 50.0%
2015 – 22, 10, 12, 0, 45.5%
2016 – 22, 9, 13, 0, 40.9%
2017 – 15, 5, 10, 033.3%