Criticising coaches is a delicate business
David Parkin coached many great sides throughout his career. However, he once said his greatest achievement as a coach was lifting the Fitzroy football from ninth to third in 1986, given the relative mediocrity of their list.
Like many among his coaching brethren he argued that a coach cannot work miracles to win a flag.
Coaches are a tragic lot in many ways.
While many players from clubs languishing at the bottom of the table are sometimes seen as shining lights or diamonds in the rough, the coach can rarely separate himself from a team that is anchored to the bottom of the ladder.
It’s no surprise that many of them can be as friendly with the media as a prisoner with a firing squad.
Mark Neeld may think that the press may as well be wearing black caps already.
It is clear that some in the press are screaming for change in the Melbourne hierarchy.
David King has claimed that Neeld should never have been appointed as it is clear his game plan does not sync with the Melbourne list.
Alastair Lynch wondered if the selection of two 22-year old captains has led to disinterest from the senior group.
But Neeld wasn’t the only person to have coached Melbourne to come under criticism during the week.
Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly, musing on the concept of coaching, claimed in his Age column that former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher was not very inspiring and unable to engage with player concerns.
These comments created a backlash among the coaching association, who believed that Jolly’s article was digging up old skeletons, as well as not acknowledging that Daniher was the man who gave Jolly his first opportunities at AFL level.
Nor did Jolly mention that in Daniher’s 10-year tenure as coach of Melbourne, the Demons reached the finals six times and the grand final in 2000.
But was it right for Jolly to drag his grievances with a past coach back into the spotlight after all these years, particularly when the person in question is still involved in a football department (Daniher currently works with West Coast)?
Furthermore, is the idea of player-coach relationships the responsibility of just the coach or should the players take some responsibility?
Jolly claims that Daniher was hard to gain a rapport with, but was there no way for Jolly to communicate this with him?
A coach needs to look after the team as a whole; perhaps the players should be able to show them some flexibility, should they have any individual concerns.
Whatever the reasons for his comments, it must be said that Jolly almost certainly did not mean them out of malice towards Daniher.
But Darren Jolly should take heed of the fact that when Daniher had too many bad seasons at Melbourne, he was sacked.
Despite the fact that they have had four mediocre seasons and another sacked coach since, a fair few players still remain.
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