Jack Redden is gone, now Justin Leppitsch must follow

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor

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30 Have your say

    I don’t like saying it’s time for a senior coach to go, especially one who has only been in the job for two years.

    However, while coaching an AFL side is an increasingly complex job, there are three key things a senior coach needs to do in order to have a successful football team.

    Firstly, they need to create a winning game plan. Easy to say, not so easy to do, but it’s an essential skill.

    Secondly, they need to be able to develop the players they have to fulfil their roles in that game plan.

    Justin Leppitsch hasn’t really had the chance to prove himself on either of these tasks just yet, prevented by injuries and a lack of talent on the Brisbane list.

    However, the third thing is the most important: getting a buy-in from your players – having their trust and belief that this team is worth devoting themselves to.

    Your players need to take ownership of the club.

    If Jack Redden requesting a trade earlier this week – citing his concerns with the club – proves anything, it’s that Leppitsch has failed in that third and most important task.

    There are problems at Brisbane. They lack players in the right areas and have struggled badly with injuries this year. They are a young team and they lack development.

    The issue here, however, isn’t that there are problems, because every club will have them. The issue here is that Leppitsch has not convinced his players to be a part of solving those problems.

    Redden, after all, will not be the only Lion to depart this season. They lost five players in the 2013 off season, another two in 2014, and they will almost certainly lose Redden, James Aish and Matthew Leuenberger this year.

    Dayne Zorko and Stefan Martin have also been weighing up their options, depending on who you get your gossip from.

    Even the best clubs lose a player or two each season, but when people are lining up to leave at this rate it shows that there’s a serious problem. And it’s not the Brisbane weather.

    It shows that the coach has lost – or never had – the ability to get his players all pulling in the same direction, to bring them together as a team, and make them believe that if they work towards a common goal, good times will come.

    The players believe the team is owned by someone else, so they haven’t become dedicated and devoted to it. It hasn’t become a part of who they are.

    When good players would rather skip off to another team than be a part of their current one, you’ve got a serious problem.

    Part of the issue is that the Lions are yet to disconnect from their 2001-03 premiership era, despite it being more than a decade ago. That ‘ownership’ of the team still belongs to the heroes of that generation, many of whom still hold important positions at the club.

    The appointments first of Michael Voss and then Leppitsch both struck me as attempts to cling to that era of success, in what was in both cases a difficult time for the club.

    Neither would have been offered the senior coaching position had they not been Brisbane premiership players.

    Appealing as it might be to have a favoured son return to the club, that kind of thinking can be poisonous. It is based around looking back, when instead clubs need to be looking forwards.

    Voss had essentially no coaching apprenticeship. Leppitsch was an assistant coach for six years but spent only three of those years outside Brisbane.

    They were Brisbane boys, and were appointed as Brisbane men, raised on Brisbane thinking. They lacked the outside influence needed to break the club out of its slump and bring it into a new, modern era.

    Consider Port Adelaide, who for years were coached by people from within the Port Adelaide structure. They found themselves at their lowest point in 2012, in the hands of club legend Matthew Primus.

    Primus’ demise saw Port Adelaide look outside its own heartland and install Ken Hinkley, a complete outsider, as their next senior coach. We have all seen the dramatic transformation that followed.

    It is time for Brisbane to do the same. The club can no longer rest on its laurels and look back on its glory days. It needs to change its focus and look at the future.

    The end of Leppitsch’s tenure at the club is the first step on that road.

    I feel for him, in a better situation he might well have made a red-hot go at it, but he has lost the players and as a senior coach that is the end of you.

    The next step is to appoint a coach from outside Brisbane’s premiership fraternity – either an experienced senior coach, or someone who currently assists at a successful club.

    It will be a hard road. It will get worse before it gets better. But it is well and truly past time for that old era to die, and a new one to be born. It is time for the players to own their football club.

    When they do, the Lions will roar again.

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • September 3rd 2015 @ 7:38am
      Nordburg said | September 3rd 2015 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      The problem the Lions have,other than injuries,is that their young players are trying to learn off a coach who is trying to learn too.They went after Roos for a reason and had to settle for Leppitsch.They should be moving heaven and earth to get Worsfold.Not likely that he’d accept but an experienced coach with credibility is what they need

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 10:32am
        PGNEWC said | September 3rd 2015 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        Yeah how did that Experienced coach R Eade go at the Suns again?

    • September 3rd 2015 @ 8:05am
      The truth said | September 3rd 2015 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      AFL is really struggling in Brisbane. With Bennett back at the Broncos and a great young squad, the Lions are going to need a lot of cash from the AFL just to survive. When the NRL put a second team in, they could be in real trouble just to get some air time.

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 11:09am
        Don Freo said | September 3rd 2015 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        What the Broncos do has no impact on whether Lions players are buying in to Leppitsch’s coaching.

        Financially, there is no issue. AFL will always prop up struggling clubs. They have plenty to spare. Any on field struggle is cyclical. 4 GFs in a row and 3 flags is still a fresh memory.

        They’ll be fine…in a few years. Clubs rising to prominence again (like the Doggies) is always good to watch.

        • September 3rd 2015 @ 11:26am
          The truth said | September 3rd 2015 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          Mate the Dogs where in the grand final last year and they are looking pretty good this year. The halfback going down injured wasn’t great but they are still in with a show. I agree that they are a good side to watch.

          • September 3rd 2015 @ 12:27pm
            Jim said | September 3rd 2015 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            What are you on about?

            • September 3rd 2015 @ 1:15pm
              Don Freo said | September 3rd 2015 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

              He’s assuming we’re talking about that game where fat blokes run 2 metres, fall over, run 2 metres again and fall over…60 minutes of a game spent resting fat bodies on the ground.

              • Roar Guru

                September 3rd 2015 @ 3:04pm
                Pumping Dougie said | September 3rd 2015 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                Thanks for clearing that up Don, I thought ‘the truth’ might have had a few too many frothies.

              • September 3rd 2015 @ 3:08pm
                The truth said | September 3rd 2015 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                Hey Doug old son, might be worth throwing a pineapple on the Dogs/Dogs P’Ship double.

              • Roar Guru

                September 3rd 2015 @ 3:17pm
                Pumping Dougie said | September 3rd 2015 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

                Thanks for the tip, ‘the truth’!

    • Roar Guru

      September 3rd 2015 @ 9:17am
      Paul D said | September 3rd 2015 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Redden was quoted this morning as saying that his football had gotten “stale” over the past two years.

      Rather damning indictment on the culture and gameplan that Leppa has foisted onto the players. Admittedly that’s just one bloke’s opinion, but I’m sure he’s far from the only one who’s unhappy.

      Regretfully coming to the conclusion that the club got it wrong when they brought Leppitsch on. Another couple of years wasted.

    • September 3rd 2015 @ 10:11am
      WhereIsGene said | September 3rd 2015 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      Great article.

      Leppitsch has been a disaster. He has never looked comfortable as an AFL coach and does not strike me as being terribly intelligent, intellectual or charismatic. Really his only qualification for the job was being a former Brisbane player, and you’d think the club would have learned its’ favorite son lesson after the disappointment of Michael Voss.

      What Brisbane REALLY needs is an entire boardroom cleanout. They are by far the worst board in the AFL and have no real idea what they’re doing, its no coincidence they’ve allowed the club to become a shambles in every way imaginable. Move heaven & earth to get Leigh Matthews back there to oversee a change in culture starting from the very top.

      The club is headed for the wooden spoon, its damn near broke and players are leaving in droves. What more signs do Lions fans need that massive changes are needed?

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 11:14am
        Don Freo said | September 3rd 2015 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Wiggy, you don’t strike me as being “… terribly intelligent, intellectual or charismatic either.. ”

        You look at a square jawed redhead in the coach’s box and come to that conclusion. Deep comment.

        • Roar Guru

          September 3rd 2015 @ 3:06pm
          Pumping Dougie said | September 3rd 2015 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

          LOL. WhereIsGene, they do have Matthews back. He’s on their Board, which you’re proposing to cleanout.

        • September 3rd 2015 @ 7:51pm
          WhereIsGene said | September 3rd 2015 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

          Don Freo, No doubt your confidence in Freo will be unshaken by this week’s thrashing at the hands of Port, but I wonder how you’ll feel next week when Sydney dismantle Ross the Boss’s brand of ugly defensive football? Probably inconsolable. Such a shame.

          • September 4th 2015 @ 9:19am
            Don Freo said | September 4th 2015 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            I don’t know why you’d address that to me. If you ever read my posts, you’d notice my enjoyment of The Purple People is indefatigable.

            I am never inconsolable. When you enjoy your club, you never need consolation.

            What do you think the Freo game plan is? Do you really think it is singular?

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 3:08pm
        Col from Brissie said | September 3rd 2015 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

        Leigh Matthews is already there. He is the Football Director and has been since late 2013.

        • September 3rd 2015 @ 10:08pm
          BigAl said | September 3rd 2015 @ 10:08pm | ! Report

          That’s interesting ! I wonder how committed he can be ? How much time does he spend in Brisbane, I doubt he lives there.

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 10:05pm
        BigAl said | September 3rd 2015 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

        Leigh Mathews is on record as saying that the Lions have a real problem in convincing local high quality people with business acumen to become involved with the club.

    • Roar Guru

      September 3rd 2015 @ 10:30am
      KiwiDave said | September 3rd 2015 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      Brisbane’s curse post Leigh Matthews is appointing club legends as coaches. Some ex players make great coaches, others couldn’t coach to save their lives. Examples of failures are Hird, Voss, Leppa, Tim Watson.

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 11:16am
        Don Freo said | September 3rd 2015 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Voss could be excellent. I hope he gets another go somewhere.

      • September 3rd 2015 @ 12:32pm
        BigAl said | September 3rd 2015 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

        What were Leppitsch’s coaching credentials before he was appointed coach of the Lions ?

        Hopefully they would be more than Voss’s !. . . which were . . .that he was a real grouse player when he was playin !!

    • Roar Guru

      September 3rd 2015 @ 11:58am
      DingoGray said | September 3rd 2015 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      Oh how quickly it turns….

      About 6 months ago everyone wanted to write about how well the Lions are shaping up and what a great future they have….

      Let’s cool our Jets. A Rebuild is exactly that! It doesn’t happen over night! Some people are open to direct feedback and some aren’t.
      Redden going stale is more reflective on Jack himself than Leppa or Rockliff.

      Let’s see how the Lions go next couple of years….Then we can comment whether Leppa is up to Senior coaching….

      • Roar Guru

        September 3rd 2015 @ 1:12pm
        Paul D said | September 3rd 2015 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        I don’t place much credence in the people who were talking up the Lions based on the strength of their midfield. A team stacked full of midfielders might do well in fantasy football, but in actual AFL you need pillars at both ends, and the Lions had few enough to begin with – and even less once Merrett, Close & Freeman all went down with injury, and we had kids and 2nd stringers manning the key posts.

        For Leppa to retain his job he will need to make changes in his approach and his method of dealing with players, because what he is currently doing is not working. Disunity is death. And unfortunately a club in our position can’t afford to make too many more mistakes.

        • Roar Guru

          September 3rd 2015 @ 3:16pm
          Pumping Dougie said | September 3rd 2015 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          Paul D, I argued pre-season against the likelihood of Brisban having a good year for precisely that reason and I was roundly criticised on The Roar – the midfield is reasonable, but no better than others, and the team has zero Key Position Players of quality. I don’t even rate Merrett very highly. They definitely have some emerging though (Justin Clarke looks a good prospect and McStay looks promising), but none are established yet. If they could get Lachie Henderson back again and pick-up Jake Carlisle, they’d look much better.

          It’s a shame this player unrest is occurring so soon again after Leppa appeared to have corrected it.

          By the way, great article Josh.

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