The Parramatta Eels are down on confidence, nothing is working in attack, the forwards aren’t powerful enough, and now there’s a rumour that Brad Arthur has ‘lost the dressing room’.
Ray Hadley said of Arthur on Macquarie Sports Radio Breakfast on Monday morning, “He’s lost the room. That’s an often used expression. For the uninitiated it means he doesn’t control the team anymore. The team runs itself. Therefore when you lose the team as a coach, you lose the job.”
I cannot ignore this statement, as it’s not the first it’s been whispered during the team’s poor start to 2018.
Hadley has had his fair share of criticism over the years for his opinions, however he still has a platform, and some NRL fans take everything said in the media as gospel.
However, as a Parramatta fan, I refuse to blindly accept this. Arthur’s position will need to be considered at the end of the year if he does not turn things around, but there is no need to crucify the man six games in.
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Before I delve deeper into the nightmare season that is 2018, I would like to take you all back two years, to 2016, when the salary cap scandal reared its ugly head.
Anything that could have gone wrong that season went wrong. The Eels were given no chance of playing finals football after losing 12 points as punishment for the actions of board members, but they still fought proudly to finish in 14th place.
However, they finished with a positive win record, which is something fans had not been used to seeing.
When that season came to an end, fans celebrated, because the off-field scandals were now over. They went into 2017 positive and excited, but most importantly, with full faith in coach Arthur.
Having failed to play finals football since losing to the Melbourne Storm in the 2009 grand final, last year the drought was broken. Once again, fans found themselves excited for September. At the Dally M awards, many beleived Arthur should have won the prestigious Coach of the Year gong.
Really, there were only two contenders: Arthur and Craig Bellamy. No, the Eels did not win the premiership, after losing both of their finals games, however finding a Parra fan who considered the season a failure was searching for a needle in a haystack.
As disappointing as the past six weeks have been, you cannot take away what Arthur has done as head coach. You cannot take away the “In BA we trust” chants that have echoed out.
There was faith in him when times were darkest, so why turn on Arthur now? It hurts not winning – I know, I feel the pain too – however, it hurts more watching fans turn on the man who held everything together when it would’ve been understandable for him to run away.
There are still 19 regular-season rounds to go. Be angry and frustrated, be disappointed, throw your remote at the television but please hold on to a sense of realism. We’ll talk again at season’s end. I will write a different story if matters get worse, but the season does not end after six rounds.
As evidence, look to North Queensland, where Paul Green has just signed a three-year contract extension which will make him the longest-serving coach in Cowboys history.
This news comes just two days after his team went down 27-10 to the Bulldogs, keeping them at 15th place on the ladder, with only one win for the season.
This tells me the Cowboys faithful have just that: faith.