Will Kearney be humbled by history in the NRL?
Jarryd Hayne celebrates after scoring during the round 21 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Sydney Roosters at Parramatta Stadium, Sydney, Saturday, July 31, 2010. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Grant Trouville)
Sports organisations live off past deeds, and a certain aura surrounds a club with a lengthy honour roll. To pull in the corporate dollar and sell memberships the focus is squarely on trophies won when it comes to the big sell.
But that can often spell trouble for the future.
Few clubs can live up to the expectations and continually match the history books.
English football giants Manchester United somehow buck the trend, but their fierce rivals Liverpool are constantly trying to emulate the heroics of those who went before them in the 70s and 80s – without success.
It’s not only often unrealistic, but also a huge weight on the shoulders of the current crop of men and women defending the honour of the badge.
Teams go through golden ages as the stars align to deliver amazing results.
Sporting form seems to be cyclical, expectations are not.
In America, every quarter back at NFL side the Denver Broncos is lined up against John Elway. This week they signed star QB Peyton Manning, seemingly ending a relationship with last season’s cult hero Tim Tebow.
Parramatta Eels, while having a significantly smaller foot print on a global scale, seem to be constantly fighting the same battle and losing.
Every player is compared to Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Eric Grothe and Ray Price.
It probably doesn’t help current Eels coach Stephen Kearney that the great Jack Gibson is also on the coaching honour roll at Parramatta.
Kearney is now well and truly under pressure with the poorest strike rate of any coach in 52 years at the club. Plenty have been dismissed for far less.
Yes, they’ve had injuries, but so does every team.
Most coaches go into organisations with three to five year plans. Few get to see the process through until the end. Unhappy fans force board members to scratch that itchy trigger finger more often than not.
Will Kearney be afforded more leniency though?
His achievements with New Zealand and time spent under Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy have bought him plenty of credibility.
But victory is the only currency that matters in rugby league and Kearney is digging around for shrapnel in the back of the couch at the moment.
Talk of a contract extension is also cheap. He wouldn’t be the first man to be punted after getting “the full support of the board”.
Too many coaches are sacked without the spotlight being turned on those who hired them in the first place.
If they believed in the plan put forward during the interview then they need to have the patience to see the term through. Otherwise a club can find itself in a constant state of rebuilding.
You’ll never move forward while looking to the past. The Eels have a proud history, but whether Kearney gets to write his own chapter remains to be seen.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.
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