Calling all coaches – it’s the danger zone
It’s never an easy time to be the coach of a struggling AFL team, but it’s probably even worse when a mentor the calibre of Brad Scott comes on to the market mid-season.
Despite lacking the firepower of the AFL’s heavyweights, Scott ended his decade-long tenure at North Melbourne with a positive record – just!
Saturday night’s 25-point win over Western Bulldogs was Scott’s 211th match in charge, leaving him with a record of 106 wins and 105 losses.
None of that is good news for the likes of Carlton’s Brendon Bolton and St Kilda’s Alan Richardson, who continue to be the men most likely to face the unceasing pressure of coaching speculation.
Their teams battled out an error-riddled match at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, with the Saints winning by 13 points. Football was not the winner.
It was the Blues’ ninth loss from 10 games, with Bolton leading Carlton to just four wins from the past 42 games.
The Saints snapped their four-game losing streak to climb to 10th on the ladder.
“Given some of the circumstances to personnel earlier in the year, our guys have shown enormous resilience,” Richardson said.
Bolton was also looking to keep teaching his charges.
“There was lots of things but (especially) the composure of the guy with the ball, just being a little calmer particularly centre of forward,” Bolton said.
Our guys have to learn to make the right decisions at the right times.”
At North, chairman Ben Buckley said money would be no issue when attracting a new coach, but said there would be a solid process to find their new man.
“We’re in a very, very strong financial position,” Buckley said. “We’ve got the resources to go out and look for the best and we will do that. We will leave no stone unturned.”
Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson, Sydney’s John Longmire and West Coast’s Adam Simpson – all premiership coaches – have links with the club from their playing days.
AFL legend Leigh Matthews urged North not to go down the path of headhunting a current coach and instead go for an assistant like Michael Voss, Brenton Sanderson, Justin Leppitsch or Matthew Knights who have held a top job previously.
In his first season with the club, Rhyce Shaw will take over as Kangaroos caretaker coach and will be given the opportunity to audition for the job on a permanent basis.
“Certainly Rhyce will be in contention,” Buckley said. “He’s a fantastic individual and he’s made a great impact already on our team and our footy club.”
Demons slip even further against GWS
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin is also a man in the spotlight as the Demons slipped to a 26-point loss to Greater Western Sydney on Sunday in a lacklustre affair.
The Dees managed seven goals in the final quarter to flatter the scoreboard, with the Giants winning their first game at the MCG since the Round 2 effort against Collingwood last season.
At 3-7 for a season in which the Demons were expected to make the finals they have been one of the year’s great disappointments.
“We got smashed around the footy early. They were outstanding around the footy and showed up our midfield group early in the game,” Goodwin said.
“To our players’ credit they stayed connected and to fight back was really pleasing.
“We have got some things to work on, but we’ll keep progressing and there’s a group of guys to come back this week.”
Tigers getting the band back together
And while the cellar dwellers are plugging away, it’s worth noting that Richmond continues to find ways to win ugly despite a long injury list – a factor that should be eased as early as next week when veteran Trent Cotchin returns.
The skipper could return against North Melbourne having not played for two months with a hamstring injury.
The Tigers face North next weekend.
Coach Damien Hardwick told reporters Cotchin was “pencilled in to return”.
“He’s training well. He’s missed a fair amount of footy, so we’ll work our way through it. If he walks into my office and says ‘I’m right to go’ and the doc gives him the all clear, I know where his magnet will be going.”
The Tigers have lost Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt and Toby Nankervis to injury this year, yet still sit in fourth with a 7-3 record.