Crows champion and board member Mark Ricciuto says the sacking of coach Brenton Sanderson was designed to prevent the team’s predicament going from “bad to worse”.
Ricciuto revealed on his Triple M breakfast show on Thursday that the Crows board feared that Sanderson would have to be sacked mid-year if they didn’t make the decision to part company with the coach now.
The former Crows skipper has been accused by fellow radio broadcaster and former club captain Chris McDermott of being behind the Sanderson decision.
However, Ricciuto says he was just one member of a sub-committee tasked with reviewing the coach’s position, including chairman Rob Chapman, board member Andrew Payze and football director David Noble.
“I would say that if we didn’t make this decision things could go from bad to worse, like they have at other times in the Adelaide Football Club history where we’ve had coaches that have moved on halfway through a season,” Ricciuto said.
“I’ve seen it all happen before – I know how easily it can unravel.”
The shock sacking was revealed late yesterday afternoon, with Chapman saying “recent weeks have unearthed a need for change”.
“Both parties have realised they have different perspectives on where we are at as a footy team,” he said.
“It is a tough decision but one the club feels pushes us closer to realising our ambitions.”
The Crows face an estimated $1.4 million payout to Sanderson, who coached the Crows for three seasons, finishing third, 11th and 10th this year.
Sydney assistant Stuart Dew and Essendon assistant Simon Goodwin were immediately touted as potential replacements.
Ricciuto, who was appointed to the board this year, made it clear that he wasn’t happy with Sanderson’s performance.
When asked whether Sanderson was up to the task he said: “Well you don’t get sacked if you’re otherwise do you?
“He’s a good coach in some ways, I feel. He’s a good bloke. To be a good coach you have to be good at a lot of things.
“The role of an AFL coach has changed so much over the last 20 years. It’s now about managing a huge amount of people – not just 40 players, not just about the two hours on game day. It’s about so many things – media, press, medical, high performance, other coaches…
“You have to have relationships with so many people. It’s not just about win-loss.”
It has been widely reported that Sanderson lost the support of a group of leading players including Patrick Dangerfield, Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker.
Ricciuto hinted that this was true.
“Basically we spoke to all the key people that you need to speak to, that the coach has got to have relationships (with) if it’s going to be a successful football club.
“Players were one of those groups and obviously formed part of the reason why he’s not there from next year onwards.”
Ricciuto said the club had not stitched up a replacement coach before Sanderson’s axeing.
“We haven’t but we know who are the next options,” he said.
He rejected speculation that the club had acted quickly to head off a reported offer from Melbourne to Goodwin, who Ricciuto described as his “best mate”.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
“If he happens to get the job … it’s got absolutely nothing to do with him being my best mate.
“The only reason he would get the job at the Adelaide Football Club is if he’s the best bloke for the job.”
When asked about the board’s responsibility for some of the problems faced by the club in recent years, including the mishandling of gun forward Kurt Tippett and the resulting draft sanctions from the AFL, Ricciuto suggested that management should share responsibility.
He said the two-year extension of Sanderson’s contract at the end of last year was a board decision “based on information given to them by management”.
Chief executive Stephen Trigg, who was also sanctioned by the AFL over the Tippett saga, has recently left the club to join Carlton. Ricciuto said his replacement, Andrew Fagan, who was appointed this week, was not involved in the Sanderson sacking, but had been kept informed.
This article first appeared on inDaily.