The Roar
The Roar


Why does blame always fall on coaches?

Roar Pro
4th August, 2011

Does responsibility always rest with those at the top of the tree? For Adelaide Crows and Melbourne Demons fans, apparently it does.

Two coaches in two weeks and whispering of more to come, but is the sacking of AFL’s senior coaches the best medicine?

2011 is bound to go down in the record books for the Adelaide Crows, for all the wrong reasons. The Crows have only managed five wins out of 17 games this season, their lowest total in the clubs 21-year history.

Two of the losses they have had in 2011 at the hands of Melbourne and St Kilda were not only record defeats, but the loss to St Kilda was the lowest score kicked in any game for the Crows (3.6.24).

Melbourne, on the other hand, were promising developments from season 2011 – they have won seven and a half games so far this season and have looked promising when they win. But on the flip side, the Demons have an average losing margin of 70 points.

Undoubtedly frustrating for Melbourne fans, their side’s unable to be competitive most weeks of the season. Tensions reached breaking point on the weekend with the side succumbing to the second largest loss in VFL/AFL history.

Following both of those losses the clubs’ respective coaches now find themselves on the outside looking in. Neil Craig came out on the Monday following the Crows loss to St Kilda stating he would step down immediately, feeling he wasn’t the right person for the job.

And just this week, Dean Bailey received a call from Melbourne president Jim Stynes on Sunday afternoon informing him that he would no longer be coach of the Demons. In the press conference on Monday, Bailey stated that the loss on Saturday was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Is it really necessary to sack the man at the top? Football clubs are made up of a full coaching panel, a whole list of players, support staff and a board who are all at some point in the season and at some level responsible for their club’s success.


Melbourne came out on Monday singing praises of how smooth the club was travelling yet had to get rid of the senior coach after the worst performance in the club’s history.

Surely someone else at the clubs has some sort of liability in that sort of environment. The 22 players that take to the field each week seem not to have the motivation to fight out four quarters and play for their coach.

The players shoulder the burden in this instance; they are the men that go out and fight the battles week after week.

Coaching panels have become increasingly popular with clubs over recent years with every single AFL club sporting a panel of around six to 10 coaches.

It is unbelievable that the senior coach can take all the blame when this panel of coaches spends hours assessing the defensive or offensive capabilities, talking to players and genuinely have the same amount of time with players and have a relative level of input into game structures.

Coaches will continue to be stood down after poor performances, players and assistant coaches will continue to fly under the radar when sides under perform. Two coaches down this season with a couple in the firing line in the last six weeks of the season. Expectation can be a senior coaches downfall, year in, year out.

Maybe it’s just easier to get rid of one coach then a whole coaching panel, board and playing list…