Who is really responsible for the Eels disaster?
Do you think the Parramatta Eels would be traveling any better this season if their head coach was Wayne Bennett or Craig Bellamy?
Disappointed fans are calling for head coach Stephen Kearney’s removal after a winless start in 2012 and only achieving a 21.43 percent winning record since Round 1, 2011.
The Roar’s Luke D’Anello submitted an article in April, 2010 called, “The challenge of coaching without the cattle”, which underlined how two promising young AFL coaches, Damian Hardwick and Dean Bailey, will struggle “without the cattle”, or a poor and immature list of players.
Bailey has since been sacked but Richmond offered Hardwick a two-year extension after he had started his first season 0-9.
Results are relative, and the simple facts are that the Eels were expected to finish with the wooden spoon based on our professional ratings, but enthusiastic fans expected more. They certainly have been unlucky, losing their best player, Jarryd Hayne, when in a winning position against grand finalists, the New Zealand Warriors, in Round 2.
Kearney is also the current New Zealand coach and if he leaves the latest board meeting intact, you would expect he would resign as national coach to focus on the Eels. But the likable Kiwi can only do so much.
The Eels have a dysfunctional board that have a track record of making poor appointments. Bennett and Bellamy have always had the good fortune to coach under astute administrators who were able to lay a foundation for them to weave their magic.
Kearney inherited a mess, but he is in his second year at the club now and fans rightly had an expectation of at least some promise.
Kearney would have known that priority one was to find some halfs, so they went about looking for a Brett Kenny and a Peter Stirling. They came up with Bulldog discard Ben Roberts and forked out $550,000 for the Rabbitoh’s Chis Sandow.
A respected recruitment manager valued Sandow at $220,000, which is endorsed by this author, but arguably the Eels biggest concern is their stereotype forwards, who with the exception of Reni Matua, refuse to pass the ball. The backline is no better; filled with poor defenders, especially the right side that is cluttered with holes.
So who really is to blame?
The members vote in the board, and they appoint the chief executive, who is responsible for the coach and the coaching staff, including the all-important recruitment group.
If a club pays “overs” for a player like they have with Sandow and young William Hopoate (who is yet to play for the Eels due to religious duties), and they get it wrong, then their entire salary cap forces them to not be able to be competitive with other players.
Hayne will make a huge difference when he comes back from injury, but he is only one player from a list of 25, maybe it is the list who do not run out and play where the real problem is.