Fremantle have dropped a bombshell this morning, sacking both coach Ross Lyon and CEO Steve Rosich despite both individuals having a year to run on their contracts.
Despite some fan unrest over Lyon’s position, there was little credible speculation about a coaching move being made at the Dockers, making today’s news an enormous surprise.
Fremantle had been in the thick of the finals race for most of the season, sitting as high as sixth on the ladder as late as Round 13 with a 7-5 record.
They were only eliminated from finals contention after Saturday night’s 32-point loss to Essendon and, just two weeks ago, had dominated minor premiership contenders Geelong by 34 points.
The loss to the Bombers was the Dockers seventh loss in nine games, however, and signified a fourth straight season out of the finals under Lyon’s watch.
It’s an eerily ironic end to Lyon’s tenure at Freo, after he controversially crossed from St Kilda in the 2011 offseason, blindsiding the Saints while also angering Dockers fans who felt previous coach Mark Harvey had been harshly dealt with.
He took the club to four consecutive finals appearances in his first four seasons, including three straight top-four finishes, a grand final loss to Hawthorn in 2013 and the 2015 minor premiership.
But the Dockers suffered a spectacular fall from grace after that ladder-topping campaign, dropping from 17 wins to four in 2016. The club finished with eight wins and almost identical percentages across 2017 and 2018, but fans had become restless by that point.
Despite losing star midfielder Lachie Neale to Brisbane in the offseason, Fremantle had already eclipsed their win total from the last two seasons and had improved their percentage by 18 points, making the timing of today’s announcement very peculiar.
He has been linked to a move back to Melbourne at various points throughout the season, while trade rumours surrounding several players may also suggest he lost the support of the list.
Lyon departs Fremantle as the longest-serving coach in club history, with 26 wins more than any other candidate, and is responsible for two thirds of the club’s finals appearances.
He also departs with the highest winning percentage as a coach in club history although, curiously, one more loss would have seen him surrender that title to Chris Connolly.
MORE TO COME