With more stories about divorces than anything to do with coaching, the AFL coaches have a tough time on their hands. So where does each coach sit on the security tier?
No matter what, they’re safe
Damien Hardwick, Chris Scott, Adam Simpson, Alastair Clarkson, David Noble, Matthew Nicks
Hardwick has won three flags in four years, Richmond will be great again and as much as the question ‘what if they miss the eight?’ is tempting, they won’t, and if they did, it’s hard to fathom he’d be kicked out the door.
Geelong love Chris Scott more than the fans do, they’re the reigning runners-up and if the old boys club doesn’t hold up, they’d rather turf the players than Scott himself. They are the perennial bridesmaids of the last decade.
Adam Simpson is almost a West Coast immortal and just two years off their last premiership, has more than enough credits in the bank and West Coast are still a good team.
Alastair Clarkson will finish up in 2022 and summon Sam Mitchell as his replacement in 2023 and the Hawks won’t be rushing that appointment. They will find out which young kids can play and which can’t before Mitchell starts.
David Noble is in his first year at North and needs the time it takes to figure out what parts belong with what and to get something off the ground at Arden Street.
Matthew Nicks is in charge of the Adelaide rebuild so he’s safe at the Crows. They’ll still want improvement but with their gluttony of draft picks and youth, he’s got the tools to continue.
It would take a genuine disaster to doubt them
Chris Fagan, Ken Hinkley, John Longmire, Brett Ratten, Justin Longmuir
Brisbane are on an upward trajectory with two finals series in a row and Fagan is one of the most loved coaches in the league, let alone at his club. But if Brisbane missed the eight and regressed badly, would there be some doubt? Perhaps.
Ken Hinkley recently signed a two-year deal but the lack of long-term security means his future is still performance based. If Port have a stinker, it would be dangerous times.
John Longmire’s had three grand finals and a flag in his tenure and is a Sydney immortal. But when a coach goes through success and then a rebuild, the pressure mounts. If Sydney go backwards, which they shouldn’t but I can’t rule it out, could the temptation of a new voice come in?
St Kilda were adopted as the nation’s second team during the 2020 finals and Brett Ratten has proven the doubters wrong so far. The Saints should be thereabouts again but if they’re not, the ‘can a bloke coach twice?’ debate will rear its ugly head. But Ratten is a star.
Justin Longmuir did a serviceable job in his maiden season and has a great young core to build a bright purple future with. Fremantle aren’t in a rush to look elsewhere and they don’t seem to be regressing barring an ungodly amount of injuries, which isn’t a coach’s fault.
Questions need to be asked
David Teague, Nathan Buckley, Luke Beveridge, Ben Rutten, Stuart Dew
Carlton can’t hold a lead under Teague, whose defensive style isn’t getting the job done. Carlton got weapons this off-season and will definitely be in the limelight all year long and the blame (or praise) will be on the former club best and fairest winner.
Collingwood will have an intense spotlight on them more than any other season. Buckley took the Magpies through a rebuild of sorts and hasn’t got much to show for it. With Eddie McGuire going, are two changes afoot?
Beveridge delivered what so many couldn’t at the Western Bulldogs but they’ve been in no man’s land since and with barely any of the premiership group left, the credit in the bank mightn’t be as valuable as previously thought.
Essendon’s handling of the John Worsfold/Ben Rutten situation rocked the club so with Rutten being the only man in the line of fire, every inch of doubt and trepidation will be fired his way.
Stuart Dew has been good at Gold Coast but at some stage, this needs to come to fruition.
Line of fire
Leon Cameron, Simon Goodwin
The Ferrari has only had two drivers and when it was passed down, it hasn’t been as successful as it needed be. Cameron needs to find a way to get this Ferrari to play finals-worthy footy again, because if he can’t, he’s lost the players.
Melbourne are Melbourne, really. Ben Brown brings them a genuine key forward and with their stacked midfield group, the best ruckman in the game and Steven May firing in defence, Goodwin needs to produce results. One year of finals was a dream story but they need more.