The Parramatta problems continue
Parramatta Eels coach Ricky Stuart watches on during the round six NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels on the Gold Coast, Sunday, April 14, 2013. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Charles Knight)
Out of fear of being labelled small minded, I preface what I’m about to say with both Parramatta and Ricky Stuart will receive criticism in this article.
However first things first, Ricky Stuart has been disloyal and duplicitous to Parramatta. He waltzed into the Eels to ‘best signing since Jack Gibson’ praise and we all danced the coco cabana in excitement.
We (Parramatta supporters) nodded in approval when he expressed disappointment with Josh Papalli and Israel Folau for reneging on deals with the club.
We welcomed his tough-line stance in telling some 12 players that they weren’t welcome at the club past this season, including the man he named co-captain.
Here was Ricky Stuart making the hard decisions needed to improve the culture of one of the competitions real potential clubs.
The on-field performance didn’t improve, rather it seemed to regress; repeated 50 point losses hurt, but Ricky claimed it was all to be expected, the club had a young playing roster, this was bound to happen.
We accepted Ricky’s assertions, more in hope that they were true, held our bated breath, in our desperate hope that he knew what he was doing.
Yet the moment a new offer is put to him, Ricky packs his things up and leaves.
Off to Canberra he goes, where I’m sure he’ll be welcomed with open arms, with an infinitely more talented roster than he had at Parramatta, needing only to canvass discipline to take Canberra the next step forward.
Again as a supporter I feel as if Ricky has played us, that we’ve wasted an entire season, because now as Peter Sterling said, we have to start again from scratch.
Having said that, Parramatta cannot afford to retreat into its mediocrity. It cannot wallow in its misery and blame everybody but itself for its current predicament.
It has to wake up to the reality of its situation. It is about to hire its seventh coach since 2006, searching for its fifth CEO and has had three different chairmen in that time.
Surely there is a link between Parramatta’s administrative instability and their increasingly poor on-field performance.
Daniel Anderson being sacked twelve months after he lead Parramatta to the grand final, the poor recruitment decisions that year which saw Feleti Mateo and Krisnan Inu leave for what became known as the Nursing Home for players.
The decision to sack Anderson reeked of the problem with the Parramatta board. The new board wanted to plant its imprimatur on the club and needed any reason to sack Anderson.
They couldn’t bare the thought of the previous board being credited for any future club success. All the credit had to be there’s.
It was a gamble that failed miserably; Stephen Kearney inherited an awful roster and in two seasons couldn’t prove his coaching credentials, leading Parramatta to the wooden spoon.
This current board hasn’t shown itself likely to alter from this path. With-in weeks of taking over, CEO Ken Edwards were shown the door. Apparently it was because they had a different strategic vision for the club.
Edward’s Five-Year Plan to increase the club’s membership to 40,000, re-develop Parramatta Stadium, build a centre of excellence, and focus on junior development, was something the new board couldn’t agree with.
Edwards had his flaws, but rather than compromise, negotiate; he was sacked, forced out.
More instability, more uncertainty, no direction.
In the AFL, Peter Jackson appointed by the AFL to fix the rabble at the Melbourne Demons has more than delivered thus far. Negotiated a bail-out and hired Paul Roos to coach. All of a sudden there is a different feel about where Melbourne is headed. Parramatta needs somebody like Peter Jackson, a none-sense hard-nosed operator, somebody to run this Football Club as a business in the 21st Century.
So now we wait, waiting for the next bloke to fill us with hope, the next bloke to promise us the world, and hopefully just hopefully, he won’t disappoint us.