Why Gus’ rebuild needs a re-think
Phil Gould and the Penrith Panthers need a rethink (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)
If an often spruiked reality television show has taught me anything, it’s that rebuilding a dilapidated old house is really hard work. But, eventually through good management, perseverance and that affable Scott Cam, it can be done.
Rebuilding a footy team however, forget it.
If the term ‘rebuilding’ hasn’t been struck off the footy admin maxim list along with such weasel words as ‘half time entertainment’ and ‘match day experience’ then it bloody well should be, for there is no phrase that manages to depress a season ticket holder quite like it.
A rebuilding phase in football is no different from a restructure at the office, being forced to redo an assignment or re-jigging the family budget. It is the footballing equivalent of a long in-depth discussion with your partner about the state of your relationship.
Quite simply, you’re in trouble.
The Penrith Panthers, for all intensive purposes, are going through a rebuilding phase.
In their defence those in power at the club have spared fans these actual inflammatory words, but with Phil Gould constantly droning on about ‘future steps’ and ‘positive pathways’ they’re a spirit level away from Jamie Durie presenting high-vis singlets to players out of a backhoe in the dressing sheds pre-match.
Problem is, as far as construction sites go, those responsible for working on the Panthers yesterday looked like they’ve just found out Michael Searle was bankrolling the whole thing.
On the request of the high profile construction manager, a newly appointed foreman has been flown in from New Zealand especially for the gig, with words to the effect of ‘while the boys on site are a good bunch of fellas, you to have to be firm with them’.
Even still you can imagine his shock when he’s rocked up to site clutching the master plans, only to find his tattooed and be-stubbled crew huddled around a Zoo mag smoking a bunger. His mood is not helped when his star electrician suddenly pulls up next to him in his hotted up ute and swaggers down to join the rest of the them, high–fiving his fellow slackers before falling asleep in an upturned wheelbarrow.
No, this simply will not do. So he makes some changes.
A couple of the senior tradesmen are put behind the barrow, while a few of the junior labourers are handed the expensive machinery and told to go nuts. True, some of the changes aren’t popular at first, but from afar things look like they’re slowly coming together.
But then it happens. A bad day. A couple of blokes ring in sick. Another manages to adhesive himself to a skill saw. Someone forgets the stereo.
The only bloke left at the temp agency is a bloke on parole who got booted from his last couple of jobs. Suddenly by the time the mildly attractive chick in the smoko van rocks up the whole day is a write off and the construction manager is on the blower demanding answers to which the only answer is “Umm, soon?”
And here’s the problem with rebuilding. In the NRL there is no tomorrow, only today. Planning for the future went out as soon as they got rid of the top five. If your team’s bad, you buy a whole bunch of good players until they start winning.
Because really, what is a reasonable building period? Is it ok to stink it up for five years to have one decent crack at the title? Ten years? Were North Sydney actually building up to a period of footballing domination of which the like the world has ever seen?
And even then how long do you get to stay at the top of the mountain before some other struggler comes and pays overs for your best players?
Don’t get me wrong, if the Panthers aim is to be create a legacy of continual success ala the Broncos, well good for them. But if getting destroyed by a Titans side containing more reserve graders than Surfers Paradise on mad Monday is part of the plan, then I think you can excuse the fans for looking elsewhere until this house is well and truly finished.
Unless of course that is they can get that wonderful Scott Cam involved somehow.
Follow Chris on Twitter: Vic_Arious@twitter.com
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious