The Manly board should fall on their swords

apaway Roar Guru

By apaway, apaway is a Roar Guru

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    Des destroys doors - his will be the only famous locks in a dressing room. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    In years to come, it will become the ultimate trivia question: which club sacked its reigning premiership-winning coach?

    In the sporting world, I can only think of one possible comparison with the insanity that has prevailed at the Manly Sea Eagles after they sacked Des Hasler.

    Back in 2006, reigning A-League champions Sydney FC reportedly cut coach Pierre Littbarski’s salary drastically before the start of season two. Understandably, Littbarski left.

    But he wasn’t sacked, and the ignominy of this ridiculous saga has, to the best of my knowledge, not be played out at any club that are the reigning champions.

    Des Hasler has performed miracles at Manly. A club on the brink of folding when he took over, operating on a shoestring budget, in direct deference to their popular image, and he has led them to two premierships in four seasons, with another “moral” victory after the Storm were stripped of the 2007 title.

    Manly supporters should have been concerned in June this year when the stories began circulating that the club and Hasler were somewhat apart in negotiations for a contract extension. The concern would have become real disappointment when it was announced Hasler would be leaving the club just days after taking them to the 2011 title. That disappointment will now be real anger.

    There are accusations that Hasler was playing his Bulldogs cards too early by trying to shore up key Manly players for Canterbury in 2013. I have a feeling that may play out in the courts, as it sounds like a ploy to avoid paying Hasler out of the last year of his contract, a contract that only one month ago he and the club were happy to honour.

    One of the by-products of this mess is the insanity of having coaches and players announce their new employers a season ahead of time. I simply cannot fathom why this is necessary, or why the mythical June 30 deadline ever existed. I understand that with a salary cap there are financial implications that don’t exist in, say, European football. But coaches are not part of the cap, and the game does have a longer off-season than aforementioned leagues.

    Regardless of those arguments, this is a case where the Manly board have betrayed fans and players alike. They have also handed new coach Geoff Toovey an almost impossible job.

    All of which would have been avoided if they had given Hasler the contract he deserved months ago.

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    The Crowd Says (29)

    • November 11th 2011 @ 9:02am
      Mals said | November 11th 2011 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Apaway i agree with some of this but there are 2 sides to every story and the media in general has been very Pro Hasler on this issue.

      No doubt Manly should have tied up Des to a new longer contract extension mid year. His price was cheaper back then too so it would have been a win win. However, since negotiating with the Bulldogs Des has shown a distinct lack of judgement & class. This was topped off by his “show me the money: statement to the Manly hierachy when it had already turned out that he had signed on the dotted line with Canterbury. Since then his position has become untenable with the mass defections in his back room staff to Canterbury and alleged Bulldog recruitment discussions with Manly players. Des should now do the honourable thing & fall on his sword. He won’t do this though because he is a man with deep pockets and short arms & he wants a payout.

      Apaway are you referring to the whole board? Even our majority owner & chairman Scott Penn??? The Manly board is a complex set up with representatives from the leagues club, football club, & equity owners Penns & Surfside. This is part of the problem allowing factions to develop which go to war with each other. How about a complete restructure while we are about it?

    • November 11th 2011 @ 10:40am
      Bondy said | November 11th 2011 @ 10:40am | ! Report

      apaway, i only follow RL occasionally now but i feel sorry for you mate being a loyal Sea Eagles supporter .

    • November 11th 2011 @ 10:46am
      Mals said | November 11th 2011 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      Apaway – another thing to remember, Manly was without a major sponsor until 1 July this year so the club was not exactly flush with funds. Harry hindsight says we should have signed Hasler back in April or May but with the club struggling financially and Des having still 18 months to run on his contract you can see why this was not fast tracked.

    • November 11th 2011 @ 11:24am
      Sea Eagle of Brisbane said | November 11th 2011 @ 11:24am | ! Report

      Mals, I agree with you. Why hurry to sign up a coach who’s team just made the 8 (last year) and gone in the 1st round in the finals? It is pretty easy to be smart at the end of the year after winning the GF, but why not someone talks about the future and gets smart? Is anyone who criticizes Toovey now? Just in case we do not make the 8 next year, lots of smartypants will talk next year.
      Roy Masters wrote in his column lately that if a club makes the GF 3 times in 5 years, the Board must be doing something right. It is impossible to play well for 5 years if the Board is dysfunctional.
      Come on, can someone tell me in advance what will be the problem with Toovey or the team in the future? You don’t know? But you will know it afterwards. So why blame the Board now and credit the coach with everything?

      • November 11th 2011 @ 1:12pm
        Matt F said | November 11th 2011 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        They didn’t do too badly to make the 8 given Stewart and Williams missed the whole season (Stewart obviously missed almost all of ’09 as well.) They were like two very handy new signings this season (though Williams missed the finals.) Foran and Cherry-Evans were quite good finds and developed quite well under Hasler and he clearly got on very well with the players. You could easily turn your line around and say “if you kake 3 GFs in 5 years, your coach must be doing something right.” Manly were sitting quite nicely in the top 4 when Des wanted to renegotiate so it’s hard to believe that the board were really questioning his future.

        I won’t criticise Toovey. He hasn’t even coached a game yet and could turn out quite well, but it’s pretty obvious that Manly have, off-field, been off the rails since they won the competition. The board hasn’t handled this situation very well. I still expect Manly to play finals, probably make top 4 and from there anyone can win the comp. Tthe board is up for re-election this season aren’t they? I don’t think many of them will survive.

        You would know more about them then I would but didn’t the board look a lot different a few years ago? Haven’t most of them, and the CEO, only been in for 12 months or so? I could be completely wrong there though.

    • Columnist

      November 11th 2011 @ 11:51am
      Chris Chard said | November 11th 2011 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      Norm Tipping got sacked after coaching St George to the 1956 Premiership…the fact that they won the next 10 in a row though probably took some of the sting out of the decision!

    • November 11th 2011 @ 12:08pm
      Chris said | November 11th 2011 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      Yeah, I’m not sure the Board should have signed Hasler up mid-year. Like others have pointed out, this would have been a year and half out from the end of his existing contract – much too early.

      I wonder whether Hasler (for whatever reason) decided quite some time ago he was going to leave Manly. He’s been in the Manly system for so long now I think it will do him the world of good to take himself out of his comfort zone. But it’s been handled badly on both sides I think.

      Manly does appear to be a basket case in so many areas.

      • November 11th 2011 @ 12:17pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | November 11th 2011 @ 12:17pm | ! Report


        Hire the best people, and dont let them go. Hasler wanted to extend. Manly stuffed him around. He signed another contract.

        By the way, Cherry-Evans probably should be signed to a new contract on a better salary as well, before we see the same story with him.

        • November 12th 2011 @ 1:43am
          Queensland's game is rugby league said | November 12th 2011 @ 1:43am | ! Report

          I cannot believe the Cowboys let Cherry-Evans go. His father was part of the Cowboys’ recruitment when he was a junior. The Cowboys didn’t take any notice of the father when he pointed out his son’s talent. Not the first time the Cowboys have let talented juniors go down south.

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