Under pressure: Every AFL coach’s job security ranked

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor


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    Adam Simpson could feel the heat if West Coast drop down the ladder in 2018 (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

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    Rightly or wrongly, AFL coaches tend to cop the lion’s share of the blame when their teams don’t perform. Which coaches are feeling the heat coming into 2018?

    A quick look at the AFL’s senior coaches reveals that most clubs have their guy locked up for two years or more, and 2018 might be the first year in many where everyone gets to keep their job.

    Still, some clubs are bound to fall below expectations, and pressure will come when they do.

    18. Damien Hardwick
    Out of contract: end of 2021

    Hardwick is football’s happiest chap after taking the Tigers to the flag last year and signing an extension last week. Richmond fans will be writing him love letters for decades to come.

    17. John Longmire
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    Although he has his critics, John Longmire has taken Sydney to finals seven years in a row, three grand finals and a premiership. Any club in the league would be happy with that track record.

    16. Brendon Bolton
    Out of contract: rolling contract

    Bolton hasn’t put a foot wrong in his two years at Carlton and fans seem unanimously happy with the progress made so far.

    Brendon Bolton Carlton Blues AFL 2017

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    15. Stuart Dew
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    Gold Coast could probably go 0-22 this year and Dew would not come close to losing his job. Expectations, for now, are so low that he could not possibly fail to meet them.

    14. Don Pyke
    Out of contract: end of 2021

    Has drawn a few critics as anyone who loses a grand final in such embarrassing fashion is certain to do, but when you look at what he’s achieved in two years, it’s hard not to be impressed.

    13. Chris Fagan
    Out of contract: end of 2019

    Collected a wooden spoon in his first year, but Lions fans would still be happy with the progress made. The balance of fans’ patience versus the list’s potential improvement is strongly in his favour.


    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    12. Ross Lyon
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    I’ve had my doubts about him at times – and I know I’m not alone – but Fremantle as a club don’t seem to. They’ll back him in even if it’s another poor year in 2018.

    11. Ken Hinkley
    Out of contract: end of 2021

    12 months ago we were talking about him as maybe the first coach sacked in 2017, but he turned it around, took Port Adelaide to finals, and masterfully manipulated the club into giving him a lengthy contract extension.

    Safe as houses, although expectations on the club’s performance coming into 2018 are extremely high both externally and internally.

    10. Luke Beveridge
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    If you don’t have a photo of him and Bob Murphy on your wall with a shrine of candles underneath that you tend to daily, are you really even a Dogs fan?

    2017 was disappointing, but he’s got plenty of credit in the bank.


    AAP Image/Julian Smith

    9. Alastair Clarkson
    Out of contract: end of 2019

    He and Jeff Kennett have butted heads in the past, but realistically it’d be one of the biggest stunners in years if the Hawks decided to move him on.

    That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he leaves of his own volition when his current contract runs out in two years.

    8. John Worsfold
    Out of contract: end of 2018

    Comes into this season as the only coach in the league to not already have a contract for 2019 locked away, and honestly, I’m a little surprised it’s not already done.

    You can’t fault his first two years in charge at the Bombers though – expect an extension to be announced sooner rather than later.

    7. Leon Cameron
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    The beneficiary of being at a club with less in the way of a vocal supporter base than most, Cameron has been criticised by some for the fact that the Giants are yet to deliver a flag.

    Realistically though, most expectations on him are probably a bit unreasonable. Clubs don’t sack blokes who keep taking them to finals and Cameron shouldn’t have any trouble doing that again this year.

    GWS Giants coach Leon Cameron

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    6. Simon Goodwin
    Out of contract: end of 2019

    2017 was equal parts optimism and heartbreak – Goodwin delivered significant improvement, but Melbourne really should’ve played finals and didn’t.

    Every man and his dog is tipping them to play finals this year, and odds are they will. They have the talent. But if they don’t, many will ask whether Goodwin is up to the job.

    5. Chris Scott
    Out of contract: end of 2019

    He took over the Cats at an unusual time and took them to a premiership, and Scott has since done a fairly good job since, albeit without managing to get into another grand final.

    With a trio of Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, the Cats are clearly in win-now mode. They’re backing in Scott to be the guy who can deliver.

    The Cats have kept their window open by continuing to load up with mature talent, but someday the well is going to run dry. Hard to say whether or not he’ll be given a chance to rebuild the list when that day comes, but he’s probably safe till then.

    4. Alan Richardson
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    Richardson has impressed a lot during his four years coaching St Kilda, but the club went backwards for the first time under his tenure in 2017 after falling just narrowly short of finals the year before.

    Few, if any, are predicting them to crack into finals this year as well, after the retirements of Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna. The footy world has collectively gone cold on St Kilda’s potential.

    We haven’t really seen their gameplan evolve and while they’ve often been busy at the trade table, most of the players acquired have significant limitations.

    All things considered, a contract extension late last year was a significant show of faith from the club, and should stave off any threat of a sacking even if the Saints struggle in 2018.

    3. Adam Simpson
    Out of contract: end of 2019

    Simpson inherited the Eagles at a somewhat awkward time – most new coaches come in looking to rebuild, but instead he took over a list that was fairly mature but not reaching its potential under a then-burnt-out John Worsfold.

    In just two years he took them all the way to a grand final, but they copped an embarrassing loss on that day and haven’t delivered on expectations in either of the years that followed.

    Most are predicting a slide down the ladder this year after cutting more experience than any other club last year and going from the oldest list in the league to 11th.

    Their final preseason game on Sunday was an absolute debacle despite having a fairly strong side named, and with their two most important players Nic Naitanui and Josh J Kennedy both on the injury list, there’s plenty of reasons to be concerned about 2018.

    Simpsons’s achievements with the Eagles have been impressive and he has probably earned the right to have a crack at rebuilding the club’s list. West Coast’s list management moves last year, though, painted a picture of a club that isn’t quite sure where it’s at, making it hard to predict how they will react if 2018 is a major disappointment.

    The heat will definitely come at some point. How will they respond when it does?

    Adam Simpson West Coast Eagles AFL 2017

    West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    2. Brad Scott
    Out of contract: end of 2020

    The usual lifecycle of an AFL coach is to be brought in when a team is at its lowest ebb, rebuild the playing list and see how far you can take it – usually to finals, hopefully a flag – then probably get moved on after that era ends.

    That’s what makes Brad Scott’s situation a bit unusual.

    He didn’t really come all that close to a flag, with a narrow half-time lead in a preliminary final in 2015 the best we’ve seen, and yet North appear to be backing him in for another turn.

    Like Ken Hinkley, he signed a contract extension last year which seemed to be offered largely due to concern that he might be about to be poached by the Gold Coast Suns.

    The extension obviously put to an end any chance of that happening, but has forced the club to back in their man at a time of great uncertainty.

    While many of 2017’s bottom sides look ready to take steps forward this year, it’s hard to see the Roos doing anything better than treading water, with a step backwards ever more likely.

    If that’s the case, expect talk about whether or not it was the right decision to extend Scott to heat up, and quickly.

    Familiarity breeds contempt and fairly or unfairly, a lot of North fans are beginning to tire of Scott’s leadership. I’m on the fence myself.

    Regardless of that, what’s done is done. The club probably have low expectations internally for the year and even a wooden spoon wouldn’t see them flip-flop on Scott’s extension.

    North Melbourne coach Brad Scott

    (AAP Image/David Crosling)

    1. Nathan Buckley
    Out of contract: end of 2019

    After a six-year tenure that has taken Collingwood from grand finalists in 2011 to well short of a finals berth in 2017, Nathan Buckley hung onto his job by the skin of his teeth last year.

    He said before the season began that he expected he would lose his job if he failed to take the club to finals. The Pies did miss September, but Buckley was given a two-year extension regardless.

    A deep club review was run late last year, which ultimately saw Buckley keep his job but a number of other changes were decided upon, including a significant reshuffling of the list management hierarchy.

    It was also mooted that an ‘experienced mentor’ for Buckley should be recruited to the club (who is, by the way, more experienced than ten other senior coaches) – but this doesn’t seem to have materialised.

    Whether or not Buckley can survive depends on what the internal expectation for 2018 is. If it’s ‘finals or bust’, he’s likely to be in trouble, with most predicting they’ll fall short again.

    If expectations are more realistic, then Buckley probably only needs to coach his side to ten or so wins in order to stay in the hot seat for 2019.

    Anything less than September action is certain to be met with a mountain of public criticism from fans and the media, and there’s no guarantee what kind of decision might be made as the pressure mounts.

    Eddie McGuire would be acutely aware of the fact that Buckley’s contract runs out at the same time as when Alastair Clarkson may decide to finish up at Hawthorn.

    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 (285)

    • March 14th 2018 @ 8:37am
      Reservoir Animal said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Buckley is above criticism. Just ask Eddie, or Peter the Scribe.

      • March 14th 2018 @ 9:16am
        Don Freo said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Is that why you never criticise him?

      • March 14th 2018 @ 11:09am
        Mattyb said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        What on earth does Peter The Scribe have to do with Buckleys contract at Collingwood?

        • March 14th 2018 @ 4:49pm
          truetigerfan said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

          No sense of humor, Matthew? PTS is the all knowing guru of anything Collingwood after all. Lighten up, dude.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 8:39am
      Neil from Warrandyte said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

      What a difference a year makes- just ask Damien Hardwick

    • Roar Guru

      March 14th 2018 @ 8:41am
      DingoGray said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Hardwick 18 nailed.
      Dew 17 he’s a new coach he’s got time.
      Chris F 16 similar boat to Dew
      Bolton 15 see Dew and Chris F
      Don Pyke 14 Grand Final should give him breathing room
      Clarkson 13 He leaves on his own terms. No pressure at all.
      Longmuir 12 While has a good record, questions will start to come if Sydney drop off
      Lyon 11 good strong cultured club, will have a good season
      Beveridge 10 he’s a grand final coach
      Worsfold 9 pressure will build in the next 12 months
      C Scott 8 Strong organisation- consistent performances. But could start to get some questions
      Hinkley 7 you just don’t know with Kosch in charge.
      Goodwin 6 been handed the keys, but needs to still make it his own
      Cameron 5 got the mint job, they really should have been closer to a premiership. One bad season from being right under the pump
      B Scott 4 pressure mounting, but he’s still in front of a couple
      Simpson 3 needs to lift. It seems to be the same questions been asked of West Coast. Nothing much has changed since his arrival
      Richardson 2 gone backwards. Really needs to make big inroads. They end up in the top 4, he’s gone.
      Buckley 1 you coach Collingwood, Collingwood doesn’t have success for extended period, you are under the pump large.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 14th 2018 @ 8:55am
        Sachit Dassanayake said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Just a question on Worsfold: Why do you think pressure ‘will build’ and not ‘might build’? Also, if you put Bolton in the same bracket as Dew and Fagan, then technically you could put Worsfold under the same bracket too, considering Bolton and Worsfold both started in 2016.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 9:18am
          Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          Sachit – the answer to your question is one word – expectation.

          • Roar Guru

            March 14th 2018 @ 9:32am
            JamesH said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            I don’t know that there is huge expectation on the Bombers, Macca. Most people seem to think they will finish around the lower reaches of the eight or just outside, but there will probably be another logjam in that area this year. The difference between say, 6th and 11th, could be only a couple of games and percentage.

            If they miss this year I’ll be disappointed, but not shattered. We’re still relying on a lot of guys 25 or under who have plenty of scope for improvement, and our midfield depth would be tested by injuries.

            • March 14th 2018 @ 9:39am
              Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

              JamesH – the lower reaches of the 8 is still a long way in front of the expectations on Carlton, Brisbane and the Suns.

              Essendon also have a different list profile and employed a different recruiting strategy (their first pick this year was 49) because they went after Stringer, Saad and Smith which indicates the club itself has different expectations.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 10:10am
                JamesH said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

                I’m not classing it as an expectation. The goal is to win a final, but if they miss the eight then so be it, as long as our best young players continue to develop.

                The players they went after at the trade table are all 24 or younger, Macca. They still deliberately targeted a fairly youthful age bracket because they know success is probably still a few years away. Their window is presumably closer than Carlton’s but it’s not open yet.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 10:21am
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

                JamesH – “Their window is presumably closer than Carlton’s but it’s not open yet.” Hence greater expectation.
                ” The goal is to win a final,” Again greater expectation.

                And all 3 players you recruited were 23, while the blues drafted 2 top 10 picks plus pick 30 and recruited Kennedy who is 20 (plus Lang who is 22) – the Essendon players might not be old but they are still in a different bracket to the blues.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 11:34am
                Dalgety Carrington said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

                Surely what the last couple of years tell us is that the idea of a “premiership window” is a very loose conceit indeed. If you’re thereabouts, you’re a chance.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 12:33pm
                JamesH said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                Macca, goals =/= expectations. Very different things. And yes, the expectation is higher than for Carlton but that’s not a very high bar (no disrespect intended).

                I don’t know why you’re comparing them to Carlton, Brisbane and GC. They can expect to finish higher than those teams without me necessarily expecting them to play finals.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:19pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                “I don’t know why you’re comparing them to Carlton, Brisbane and GC. ” Because Sachit said – “Also, if you put Bolton in the same bracket as Dew and Fagan, then technically you could put Worsfold under the same bracket too,”

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:19pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                I don’t know why you’re comparing them to Carlton, Brisbane and GC. ” Because Sachit said – “Also, if you put Bolton in the same bracket as Dew and F@ g @ n, then technically you could put Worsfold under the same bracket too,”

            • March 14th 2018 @ 11:39am
              Birdman said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

              David King has tipped the Dons to salute so thier fans can now expect to be served a big bowl of disappointment in 2018.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 14th 2018 @ 11:57am
                Sachit Dassanayake said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

                Don’t know how one writer saying that means that every single fan should expect to be disappointed.
                That writer isn’t exactly the be all and end all.
                And I personally think that we won’t be served a ‘big bowl of disappointment’. A small bowl? Maybe. A big bowl? Unlikely

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 12:34pm
                JamesH said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

                If Kingy says it, tip the opposite.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 11:37am
                Brendon the 1st said | March 15th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                Unless it’s the rising star

          • Roar Rookie

            March 14th 2018 @ 10:29am
            Sachit Dassanayake said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

            Mmm yeah, that makes sense. I reckon both coaches (Bolton and Worsfold) have expectations, but one is to win a final, whereas another is to develop younger kids/win more games.
            Still doesn’t answer my first question though. How do we know the pressure ‘will build’?

            • Roar Rookie

              March 16th 2018 @ 9:35am
              Pedro The Fisherman said | March 16th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

              This will the 5th year of the Carlton rebuild. It started with Malthouse! When will the expectations arise?

              • March 16th 2018 @ 9:48am
                Macca said | March 16th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

                No, Malthouse didn’t start the rebuild, he was like a DIY “expert” who starts a renovation only to find himself well out of his depth and has simply made things much worse and it ends up costing him thousands more than what it would have if he just got the professionals in in the first place.

                Malthouse simply put the whole process back a couple of years.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 12:38pm
            Harsh Truth Harry said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

            Yep! Blues fans have no expectation of success anymore, CLEARLY!

            • March 14th 2018 @ 1:21pm
              Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

              As opposed to Essendon fans ” The goal is to win a final, but if they miss the eight then so be it, as long as our best young players continue to develop.”

              • Roar Rookie

                March 14th 2018 @ 1:32pm
                Sachit Dassanayake said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Well, yes. That is what I want to happen (and many others I’m sure).

            • Roar Rookie

              March 14th 2018 @ 1:31pm
              Sachit Dassanayake said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

              May I point you to my second sentence of my previous comment:
              ‘another is to develop younger kids/win more games.’
              Emphasis on win more games
              Do you ever read a whole comment Harry, or just pick particular parts that suit you?

              • March 14th 2018 @ 1:35pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Sachit – I didn’t quote you, I quoted JamesH – do you read the whole comment or just skim and respond.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 14th 2018 @ 2:02pm
                Sachit Dassanayake said | March 14th 2018 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

                @Macca The comment about winning more games was directed at Harry.

      • March 14th 2018 @ 11:05am
        Aflisagoodgame said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        My Top 5 is
        Honourable mention: Beveridge
        I don’t know why all the hate for Leon Cameron. Even if the Giants don’t play finals he still has done a solid job. Richardson should go if they finish in the bottom 4,regardless of contract. You can’t hold onto average coaches forever. It stops the system.

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 11:41am
          Cat said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          Re Cameron: Sure he has done a ‘solid job’ but the problem is he has a Ferrari list. He is absolutely under performing considering what he has available to him.

          • Roar Guru

            March 14th 2018 @ 1:48pm
            Mango Jack said | March 14th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            I agree. He needs to convert that list into at least one premiership in the next 2 years, I reckon.

      • March 16th 2018 @ 8:15am
        Mac Hawk said | March 16th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        Nailed it…better than the scribe.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 9:17am
      Tom M said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Why is Bolton so high? Surely you cant continue to be at the bottom for 3 years and expect to not be under pressure. Maybe the lack of supporters down at Carlton cant drum up enough noise.

      • March 14th 2018 @ 9:27am
        Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        Strong evidence of progress plus player and supporter contentment = no pressure.

        Bolton has won more games than anyone expected from the list he has had in the last 2 years and has demonstrated he is tactically savvy. With the clear evolution of their game plan in the JLT you can see a blue print that will win more and more game as the list matures

        • March 14th 2018 @ 9:40am
          Tom M said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

          We shall see how this new attacking game plan works when the real stuff starts. I see the blues having a horrid time this year in the clearances and could get squeezed in their backline a lot this year.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 9:51am
            Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            We shall see Tom but what we have seen shows that the coach is doing his job – the game plan may fall down because the players are still young but that is a different issue.

            On the clearances could you explain why you think the blues are going to struggle? Over the last 3 years Cripps has averaged 7.4, in the last 4 years only the injury hit 2016 has Murphy averaged less than 4.3 . Kreuzer averaged 4.5 last year while Kennedy has showed he is very proficient in that area over the JLT – throw in Ed Curnow and the likes of SPS and Dow and they aren’t exactly paper thin in that area.

            • March 14th 2018 @ 10:04am
              Tom M said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

              Cripps has to stay healthy, Kreuzer has had 1 good year so cant be trusted, Ed Curnow is criminally overrated by you and Dow is a first year player. Kennedy may be handy but GWS let him go for a reason and SPS is an unknown. Outside of North or Brisbane your mids aren’t exactly a dominant looking unit.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 10:14am
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                “Cripps has to stay healthy” Yeah because breaking your leg is generally a recurring issue.
                “Kreuzer has had 1 good year so cant be trusted” – he has played 42 games in the last 2 years for 156 clearances – I am confident he can be trusted in this area.
                “Kennedy may be handy but GWS let him go for a reason” Because he was out of contract and said he wanted to play for the blues? Not sure that was GWS’ call.
                “Ed Curnow is criminally overrated by you” Not sure how but say what you like about him he is strong around the contest.
                Dow and SPS are both “unknowns” but both have shown that they are adept in the clearance dept.
                And you missed Murph.

                And there is a difference between not being a dominant midfield and being poor at clearances.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 10:55am
                Tom M said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                Murphy didn’t need criticism, he has shown he is a B+ player for a number of years now . Many players struggle to get right after breaking a leg, its a high trauma injury and causes significant damage to the muscles as well. Kennedy didn’t get offered a contract because GWS felt they had better and were fine letting him go, if GWS wanted to keep him they would have played him more and offered a bigger deal, Curnow has spent most of his career tagging, not sure taggers have a place in the game anymore. The fact so many pundits have forgotten is that Carlton lost their two best players from last year, Gibbs who was traded and the unfortunate injury to Docherty, Carlton will not be able to replace either this season

              • March 14th 2018 @ 11:05am
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                “Many players struggle to get right after breaking a leg,” And yet Cripps has completed the entire pre-season and has looked very good in both JLT games.
                ” not sure taggers have a place in the game anymore.” Last year saw them become more important than ever but his work as a tagger means he is very good around the clearances which is what we are speaking about specifically.
                “well. Kennedy didn’t get offered a contract because GWS” Ok, if you want to believe that you can, it isn’t true but you can believe that.

                As for Murphy – I think he demonstrated he is above B+ last year but again we are talking about clearances and the fact is he gets them.

                How many clearances di Docherty get last year?

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 9:49am
          spruce moose said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          It speaks volumes about the Carlton fan base that perpetual languishing at the foot of the ladder can leave you ‘content’.

          3rd year in, Bolton now has to prove his team can rise to becoming competitive and demonstrate that they are not a chance for finals in 2019, but a certainty.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 9:54am
            Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

            ” Bolton now has to prove his team can rise to becoming competitive” Putting aside the blues were competitive in 2017 (they won 6 games and were in front in 8 others in the last quarter) the reason for the supporters contentment is that all the evidence to date show Bolton will do this.

        • March 14th 2018 @ 9:55am
          Brian said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          Still if Carlton win less then 4 games I really can’t see Bolton staying. Clarkson, Beveridge and Dew are all safer.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 10:02am
            Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

            Brian – I don’t see it being about wins and losses but demonstrating we are developing and implementing a game style that will see us winning in the future as the list develops.

            As for the blues winning less than 4 games in the first 5 weeks the blues have Richmond, the Suns in Melbourne, North, Collingwood and West Coast in Melbourne – it is not inconceivable that they will have 4 wins by the end of that stretch.

            • Roar Guru

              March 14th 2018 @ 10:37am
              AdelaideDocker said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              I personally have them beating the Suns and North, with West Coast the third game I feel as if they’ll sneak a win.

              They’re no chance of beating the premiers, whilst I feel as if Collingwood will be a tough opponent, especially fairly early in the season.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 10:51am
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

                AD – I am more confident of them beating Collingwood (in the last 4 games it is 2-2 with the blues biggest loss being 3 goals and the blues beat the pies by 23 points last year and I tink Carlton have improved more over the summer) than West Coast TBH. 4 will be absolute best case but 3 in doable.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 11:46am
                Dalgety Carrington said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

                I reckon the Suns might surprise a few teams this year. Their new difficult-to-play-against gamestyle just might provide a stumbling block for a team looking to broaden their gamestyle horizons, e.g. the Blooz. Didn’t the Suns also give Carlton a bit of a touch up in Melbourne last year?

              • March 14th 2018 @ 12:11pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

                Dalgety – the Suns did beat the blues in Melbourne last year but the blues kicked 6.6 to 6.1 in the first half where they had control of the game before the Suns kicked 7.2 to 1.1 in the third and then the blues kicked 5.3 to 4.3 in the last.

                The 3 best players for the game were Lynch, Matera, Ablett,

                The blues also beat the suns on the gold coast later in the year.

            • March 14th 2018 @ 11:01am
              Brian said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

              Its a process but how many premierships have been won by lists that spent years at the bottom. Melbourne are trying but generally it does not happen. One problem is you end up with no experience of success

              There is only so long Carlton would want to spend in the wilderness.

              BTW I actually like what Bolton has done and I think it will start to deliver very shortly with finals a real shot probably in 2019. However if I am wrong you cannot promise forever.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 7:10pm
                Darren said | March 14th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

                I agree with this Brian. Bolton will stay as long as he delivers. I think he has delivered fantastic change and the depth coming through in the right age group looks fantastic. But it will need to turn to finals and competing at the pointy end soon otherwise he will go the way of other coaches. I think Blues are a good chance of 10 wins this year – the young guys are ready to start taking the competition on. I also think finals are a big chance next year.

      • March 14th 2018 @ 3:42pm
        Kris said | March 14th 2018 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

        The first time Mark LoGiudice has a bad night’s sleep and wakes up grumpy anyone could get sacked at Carlton.

    • Roar Guru

      March 14th 2018 @ 9:25am
      JamesH said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      Bit surprised you have Worsfold so high, Josh. I’d have thought he was under less pressure than Hinkley and Lyon; Hinkley, because he hasn’t been able to match expectations (internal or external) for a few years and Lyon, because the jury is out as to whether or not he can evolve Freo beyond the dour, defensive mindset that has characterised his past teams.

      I know both of those coaches have a few years left on their contracts but let’s face it – long-term coaching contracts mean so little these days.

      • March 14th 2018 @ 9:33am
        Don Freo said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        “Dour and defensive” resides in the world of football cliche. It is not even in the eye of the beholder.

        A Freo fan never experiences “dour”. Purple Passion, yes.

        I don’t think this list has anything to do with whether or not opposition fans like Freo’s style.

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2018 @ 10:06am
          JamesH said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          Don, Lyon’s sides of the past have a well-earned reputation of being exactly that. If you don’t see it that way then more power to you, but that doesn’t make you right.

          Credit where credit is due, Lyon seemed to be making a concerted effort to transition the Dockers into a more attacking side last year, although we still don’t know yet if he can do so with any success. Good luck to him.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 12:40pm
            Harsh Truth Harry said | March 14th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

            come off it Freo fans, Lyon checked out when the wheels fell off and now has one and a half eyes on the Holden Centre and you all know it. The players wil see through his half hearted approach before he returns to the football state in a shiny new Holden with Eddie’s purple enormous, bulbous head exploding.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 3:13pm
            Slane said | March 14th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

            Just once I’d love somebody who calls Ross Lyon’s game plan ‘defensive’ to have a go at explaining what Ross is doing differently to any other coach in the competition. It’s always useless cliches.

            • March 14th 2018 @ 3:34pm
              Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

              Slane – since the 2011 Freo have finished 14th, 12th, 12th, 7th, 11th 16th & 17th for points for during that period they have had 3 top 4 finishes (I think it is safe to say they aren’t exactly a big scoring side) so while most teams are trying to restrict scoring, most score more heavily and not many (if any) of the ones who don’t outscore Freo are finishing top 8.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 4:17pm
                Don Freo said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                Now go through those years and list ladder position.

                It’s a pretty useless stat.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 4:24pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

                Don – It is only useless because you, as usual, don’t understand what is being discussed.

                Lyon got the dockers into finals in a lot of those years and as I said top 4 3 times but that doesn’t change the fact the were a low scoring defensive side and more defensive than the other finalists.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 11:35pm
                Don Freo said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

                It’s useless because it goes nowhere close to responding to Slane’s challenge.

                It is just you advertising your Maccaness.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 4:49pm
                Slane said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

                You are begging the question, Macca. It’s a logical fallacy. There is no analysis of Ross Lyon’s gameplan in your comment.. Are Fremantle playing an extra man behind the ball? Are they setting up on the wrong side of stoppages? Are their running patterns too safe? Explain what a defensive gameplan looks like. Even better, explain what the ‘Ross Lyon’ gameplan looks like. We hear it bagged out enough. It should be really simple to explain.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 5:03pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                Slane – so the Dockers just accidentally scored very little while being quite successful?

              • March 14th 2018 @ 11:37pm
                Don Freo said | March 14th 2018 @ 11:37pm | ! Report

                That’s not even A point, let alone THE point.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 5:36pm
                Slane said | March 14th 2018 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

                So it’s safe to say you can’t answer any of the questions I asked? Just another anon.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 9:32pm
                Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                Slane – first off could you point to when I have been overly critical of Lyon.

                Secondly obviously watching a team very rarely on TV makes it difficult to pin point exactly how a team is structured.

                And thirdly you don’t have to see how the sausage is made to know how it tastes.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 10:58pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | March 14th 2018 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

                Mind you in 2011 they were coached by Mark Harvey.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 8:57am
                Macca said | March 15th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

                Don – “It’s useless because it goes nowhere close to responding to Slane’s challenge”

                Slane asked “what Ross is doing differently to any other coach in the competition” the broad brush response is “scoring less”.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 9:12am
                Don Freo said | March 15th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

                That is a silly answer. That is your usual tangent into semantics because you have no idea how to explain a defensive game plan. Certainly, scoring less in any game is not a plan.

                Even JonBoy would understand that.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 9:17am
                Macca said | March 15th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

                Don – I didn’t say it was a game plan but given the results he achieved, the players he had at his disposal and the length of time it has occurred it is clearly a result he has wanted or at the very least been happy to accept as a consequence.

                As I said it is very difficult to pin point a “game plan” by watching on TV and it is ridiculous to think that Lyon has the same game plan week to week let alone over the entire time he has been at Freo but what is clear is that his teams have consistently been low scoring.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 9:41am
                Don Freo said | March 15th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

                So just get off this thread. You never say anything pertinent to the point being discussed. You don’t have to intrude.

                Talk to your dog if you’re lonely.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 9:46am
                Macca said | March 15th 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

                So Don – you think the method is more “pertinent” than the outcome?

              • March 15th 2018 @ 10:29am
                jonboy said | March 15th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

                How on earth have you people put up with this loose canon for 5 years?.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 11:04am
                Don Freo said | March 15th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

                Your conversation here is just on the wrong thread. It has nothing to do with the points Slane and I initiated.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 11:10am
                Macca said | March 15th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

                Don – Slane and you initiated? That is why we are branching of a JamesH comment?

                If you don’t think that an inability or unwillingness to score doesn’t relate to the impression Lyons teams have a “dour, defensive mindset that has characterised his past teams” then you are further gone than I thought.

                As for your points, on reviewing the thread what is it that you have contributed exactly – other than snide remarks?

              • March 15th 2018 @ 11:57am
                Don Freo said | March 15th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

                That’s the closest you’ve ever got to conceding and withdrawing. We’ll take that.
                …and many blessings to you.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 12:04pm
                Macca said | March 15th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

                Don – once again you fail to comprehend.

                And I’ll ask again, – what point is it that you have contributed to this thread?

            • March 14th 2018 @ 7:18pm
              dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | March 14th 2018 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

              It’s a great question, Slane, one which I don’t expect you’d get many people venturing an answer for fear of exposing their ignorance.

              I don’t know much about football, so I’m no help regardless, but I’m not all that sure what would qualify as a “defensive game plan”. Forward pressure and hard at the contest would constitute elements but would surely be applied to varying degrees (and covarying degrees of success) by all teams. Generally, I think this is less of a “game plan” than what players/coaches are getting at when they speak of “the brand of footy” they want to play.

              Beyond that, playing an extra behind the ball rather than at the stoppage (or forward of the ball — does anyone actually do that? genuine question) and implementing a high forward press. Again, hardly unique to Lyon, though maybe he has favoured a higher press at times than other coaches (again, I don’t really know).

              I’d say that Freo’s game plan circa 2012-2015 would better be described as stoppage-based. When defending, apply pressure to force the fumble / skill error. If a clear possession of the ball (i.e. turnover) can be had, then great, but otherwise, in 50/50 scenarios, force the stoppage and exploit Sandi’s dominance in the ruck. When attacking kick long up the boundary and halve the marking contest / spoil it over the line to force the stoppage and again exploit Sandi’s dominance.

              I guess in that sense you could say that the game plan was defensive by virtue of not being “free-flowing, fast-moving, attacking”.

              At any rate, the tighter interpretation of deliberate OOB put paid to that approach, and so 2016 saw Freo experimenting with (and failing at) possession footy. 2017 was more focussed on rebounding from half-back, but the speed of ball movement and kicking accuracy wasn’t there. It beggars belief that anyone could describe Freo’s game plan over the last two years as “defensive”. Defence — especially in the form of forward pressure — is precisely what was missing in 2016-2017. Do people seriously believe that playing defensive footy can ever result in a 100 point loss (not just once but three times across the course of the season)?

              Sorry, you probably already know this better than I do, and weren’t really asking for a response like this. I just wish there was more discussion around here — and especially more columns — focusing precisely on this kind of stuff. I’ve never played footy even at U13 level, so my understanding of strategies and structures is fairly limited, and derived purely from what I can see unfolding live in front of me (at the ground or on the screen).

              I’d love it if there was a regular contributor to The Roar who dedicated columns to explaining specific structures, game plans, etc. (E.g. what exactly was so unique to the West Coast defensive structures that warranted it being distinguished from a general zone-based defence and given the name “the Weagles Web”?) Ryan on occasion describes a particular structure or set up, and when he does he often provides a gif/video to illustrate, which is incredibly helpful. But he doesn’t do it enough for my liking.

              • March 14th 2018 @ 7:27pm
                dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | March 14th 2018 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                Oh, I see that Rick Disnick has made the same point about stoppages, etc. as I did but only in much fewer words.

                Any chance, Rick, that you’d consider writing a regular column on structures and strategies?

              • March 14th 2018 @ 8:11pm
                Slane said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                Once again you’ve been the best contributor to a discussion by the length of the straight. I think there is a real dearth of available information in relation to off-ball structure, gameplan and running patterns. If you’ve ever been to the USA the contrast is incredible. They have access to an massive amount of information and there are a lot of people making money with their analysis. My only advantage in understanding any teams gameplan or structure is that I get to interact with a lot of players and coaches through work. Other than that it’s limited to exactly what I can see with my own two eyes. It’s why I find these clichéd critiques of ‘defensive gameplans’ to be such a bore.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 8:24pm
                AdelaideDocker said | March 14th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

                Phenomenally good post, dkmaf. No word of a lie, it’s occasionally hard to work out if your online pseudonym is just a joke, because you appear to have a great grasp of footy. Especially for someone who has never played footy!

                I’ll second your thoughts about wanting structure focussed columnist for the forum. I have probably an even more limited knowledge of specific structures than you, and I’d love to read – even on a fortnightly basis, perhaps – great columns devoted to analysis of the sort. Disnick’s a medicine student, though, so I don’t think he has the time.

                Slane’s also made a good point about the lack of information publicly available. It’s a real blight on the game to have a lack of such info – Ryan’s bemoaned it a few times, and I’d love to see it available.

              • Roar Guru

                March 14th 2018 @ 9:02pm
                Rick Figjam said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:02pm | ! Report


                Well, as AD says, I don’t have time for a regular column. I wouldn’t mind doing one, but when I write articles, they tend to take me a while.

                The last one I wrote took over 10 hours, to be honest. Damn you AD! Mind you, that was more a humour article.

                Fox Footy is good to watch, along with its ‘expert’ commentary. Listen to what they say and then, most importantly, think for yourself. Quite often it’s just rubbish, especially what King has to say.

                However, you can get some good information on what’s unfolding. What they never explain well is why it’s unfolding. This is where you can be creative in your opinion if you have good observation skills along with sound knowledge of general sports strategy.

                Football, i.e soccer is a great source of modern trends too. Coaches like Clarkson have looked to managers, such as Pep Guardiola, I’m sure for inspiration and knowledge.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 14th 2018 @ 9:33pm
                Mattician6x6 said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

                Interestingly clarko sort out Gerard Neesham on numerous occasions, as a coach Neesham had played water polo during his entire career from playing/coaching @ Claremont and coaching at freo and is on record saying water polo had a huge bearing on how he viewed structures, game plans etc in footy.

              • March 15th 2018 @ 12:20pm
                dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | March 15th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

                Thanks, Slane, AD, that’s nice of you to say. It’s good to know that others would be interested in these kinds of analyses. Maybe we should unionise and threaten The Roar with a readers strike if they don’t give us what we want…

                Rick — our loss is medicine’s gain, I guess (unless you’re only just passing your units because you spend too much time watching footy, and your future patients are going to suffer for that obsession, in which case I only intensify my plea that write a regular column on footy structures and set-ups).

            • March 15th 2018 @ 7:47pm
              Darren said | March 15th 2018 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

              Hi Slane
              I’d suggest the following for defensive focus:
              – greater priority on reducing opposition scoring than one’s own scoring. That can lead to these tactics
              – ensuring numbers around contest to stifle opposition releasing ball
              – when moving ball forward take more conservative option to reduce turnover risk
              – prioritise endurance/strength over skill when recruit long selecting

              Sometimes coaches do this out of necessity – current list weaknesses. My take is Ross Lyon has focussed on these things throughout his career. Having said that he always looks to have a few players with flair to be the key difference. This can work well on 11-13 goal games

              • March 16th 2018 @ 12:18pm
                dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | March 16th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                – greater priority on reducing opposition scoring than one’s own scoring
                – when moving ball forward take more conservative option to reduce turnover risk

                Thing is, both of these could be said to be principles underpinning Hawthorn’s game plan 2013-2105. The best way to reduce opposition scoring is to maintain possession. If you’ve got the ball, the opposition can’t score. The best way to maintain possession is to move the ball via short kicks to team mates in space / not under pressure. That’s Hawthorn’s game plan in a nutshell.

                By contrast, I’m not entirely convinced that the long kick down the boundary — which frequently results in a stoppage rather than possession, and which was a manifest feature of Freo’s play 2012-2015 (all too often in the following seasons, too) — really counts as taking the conservative option to reduce turnover risk.

                The problem with all the talk about “defensive game plan” is that it’s all too often used simply to say “not very high scoring”. Hence appeals, such as Macca’s above, to the “points for” column as “evidence” of a team’s “defensive game plan”. It’s straight out tautological argument.

              • March 16th 2018 @ 12:38pm
                Slane said | March 16th 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                Another great post, DKMAF.

                Further to what you’ve just written there are a multitude of teams that get lauded for having an ‘attacking’ gameplan despite the fact that their main avenue to goal is creating turnovers in their own backline. They set up structurally with extra players in the defensive 50(sometimes the entire team) and then try to create a turnover on their half-back line with an eye towards a rapier quick counter-attack.

                We end up with a ‘defensive’ team like Richmond whose bread and butter is a high-press and non-stop attack on the ball-carrier VS an ‘attacking’ team like Adelaide who set up across their own half-back line and wait for an intercept before their slick ball-movement cuts through their opponent.

              • March 16th 2018 @ 1:10pm
                dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | March 16th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

                Cheers. You’re making me realise that I should probably watch more non-Freo games. I might be able to glean a bit more insight into how this footballing caper works.

          • March 14th 2018 @ 4:16pm
            Don Freo said | March 14th 2018 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

            Never dour to Freo fans. Dour is only a descriptor used by the vanquished.

      • Roar Guru

        March 15th 2018 @ 8:09am
        Redb said | March 15th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        Agree. Worsfold is under little pressure this year and should be ranked in the 14-18 category.

    • March 14th 2018 @ 9:26am
      Macca said | March 14th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report