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Coaching pressure gauge: How under the pump is your club's coach?

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Roar Guru
25th October, 2021
1724 Reads

I have decided to do a coaching pressure gauge.

Starting from the least amount of pressure going through to the highest amount of pressure, I will assess how much pressure they’re under before giving a rating out of ten for my interpretation of how much pressure the individual coach is under.

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18. David Noble (North Melbourne Kangaroos)
He has overseen the strongest wooden spooners in 23 years. The Kangaroos were aware how bad they’d be last year when they cut 11 players including several that are still AFL standard. Yet by the end of the season the Kangaroos were no longer easy beats, they had a nearly 100-point turnaround against the very much favoured Bulldogs between their two matches this year. He heads into season 2022 with a blank cheque to continue developing the Roos as he sees fit.

Rating: 0/10


17. John Longmire (Sydney Swans)
‘Horse’ Longmire had his charges playing a brand new style of footy that saw them fly up the ladder at breakneck pace. They weren’t able to break a stalwart Giants defence in the finals but they left Swans fans eagerly anticipating more when the criticism of ‘Horse’ has been that he’s a one-trick pony reliant on the exemplary inside work of Josh Kennedy. They’ll still expect the Swans to be thereabouts so there is some pressure but not all that much.

Rating: 1/10

John Longmire Sydney Swans AFL 2017

John Longmire (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

16. Leon Cameron (Greater Western Sydney Giants)
Cameron has been a great coach for the Giants. Always dealing with wantaway players and a punishing injury list, he somehow finds a way to extract every last ounce of talent from his list. It remains to be seen whether or not he will experience any blowback for allowing Toby Greene to run rampant over the Giants but to win a final with a percentage under 100 is extremely impressive.

Rating: 2/10

15. Simon Goodwin (Melbourne Demons)
The reason they’re not lower is because now everyone expects them to repeat their heroics of this year next year. They can no longer coast by on the ignominious black hole of mid-table anonymity. Like the Western Bulldogs of 2016-17 I fear they may suffer the same fate, particularly with their off-field staff being pulled by opposing clubs like Adelaide (Darren Burgess).

Rating: 2.275/10

Simon Goodwin

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


14. Damien Hardwick (Richmond Tigers)
Winning three flags in four years is enough to buy you an eternity in the head coach’s job if he wants it. He brings an immutable smugness to the head coaching role that gets the best out of his players. However the attrition of age has begun to set in with stalwarts like Bachar Houli and David Astbury retiring while fringe key forwards like Callum Coleman-Jones and Mabior Chol have forced their way out.

Rating: 2.5/10

13. Craig McRae (Collingwood Magpies)
With Eddie McGuire gone it has given the more sensible footy people with the Collingwood Magpies the time to reset and form up behind an understated and extremely qualified coach. As with all Collingwood football department appointments, there will always be the steady hum of pressure. It’s a question of whether that becomes too much for the rookie coach to handle.

Rating: 3/10

Craig McRae the assistant coach of the Hawks looks on

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

12. Ben Rutten (Essendon Bombers)
Gone are the Bombers of old where they just jump eagerly at every shiny new toy made available. They’ve been replaced with the taciturn and calm Ben Rutten, who has just quietly gone about his business, constructing a list that sooner or later will challenge the upper echelons of the eight. While a surprise finals appearance has left the Bombers faithful hungry for more, Rutten has done a good job of shutting down the hype train to allow the Bombers’ football do the talking. He has also kept a very tight leash on Adrian Dodoro, who always mouths off about his picks.

Rating: 4/10

11. Luke Beveridge (Western Bulldogs)
A lot has been made of the psychologically taxing nature of being blown out in a grand final. I have little doubt that this is true. Simply look at sides like Adelaide and Port Adelaide to see examples of this. However, season 2021 was something of a free hit as Beveridge has tightened up on the flaws in his list and has got the Bulldogs preparing for a prolonged period up the top of the ladder, which is not something you can say about a lot of Bulldogs sides.


Rating: 4.5/10

Luke Beveridge

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

10. Matthew Nicks (Adelaide Crows)
They weren’t wooden spooners and they surprised a heap of sides by bursting out of the blocks. Sadly Nicks loses points for how he handled the remainder of the season as the Crows were positively insipid for the remainder of the year. Making matters worse was the racism of their former captain in Taylor Walker. Nicks has his charges steadily improving but with the trade for Jordan Dawson going through and Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine both up for grabs next year, Nicks will be eager to show he’s made of sterner stuff next year.

Rating: 5.5/10

9. Justin Longmuir (Fremantle Dockers)
Such was the number Ross Lyon did on the Dockers list that I don’t think even after three years of Longmuir they’re still dealing with the repercussions of the no-nonsense management of Lyon. Of course, Longmuir is out of contract at the end of 2022 and with the master coach Alastair Clarkson on the board next year, Longmuir needs to show more and potentially challenge for finals.

Rating: 6/10

Dockers coach Justin Longmuir talks to his team

(Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

8. Chris Scott (Geelong Cats)
The Cats are in a weird position. It was almost certainly a mistake to extend Chris Scott so early, however the extension would be a valve releasing pressure on the experienced Chris Scott. The pressure will rapidly build if they have a bad start to next year but I actually find myself agreeing with a lot of the off-field coaching decisions like Eddie Betts in a developmental role, and Ross Lyon potentially coming in as a senior assistant. However the Cats have recruited for the now and if they don’t win the flag next year they will need to spend a prolonged period down the bottom of the ladder.


Rating: 6.75/10

7. Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)
He lost three preliminary finals as a player and he’s lost three as a coach. There is a strange duality to the coaching and playing career of Hinkley. The Port mafia on this site will have you believe Ken Hinkley is out the door yesterday but he has not done that badly as head coach. He has just always been slightly behind the eight ball in an industry that is vicious. Like Chris Scott, he may quickly find himself out the door. He has shown enough to justify persisting with him.

Rating: 6.85/10

Power coach Ken Hinkley looks on

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

6. Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn Hawks)
He may be the favoured son but he also pushed out the most talented AFL coach ever. Mitchell is a very gifted coach who has done a long apprenticeship (something that was missing with Nathan Buckley and James Hird). However the acrimonious nature of Clarkson’s departure removes the honeymoon period that favoured sons returning as coaches normally get. The reason I don’t have him higher on this list is because Mitchell has done a nearly perfect apprenticeship at the Hawks, experiencing a myriad of football department roles as well as coaching his own side in the Box Hill Hawks in season 2021.

Rating: 7/10

5. Chris Fagan (Brisbane Lions)
A second straight-sets exit in three years has pressure mounting on Fagan. Additionally, the injuries finally started to take their toll last year with Cam Rayner and Eric Hipwood doing ACL injuries. The Lions will be thereabouts again next year, but their finals record will mean that the pressure is a dull hum in the minds of supporters, leaving Fagan with less room for error. Moreover, the Lions’ salary cap is increasingly tight, leaving them with less room to manoeuvre at the trade table. In better news I expect that Cam Rayner will be like a new recruit having recovered from his ACL injury.

Rating: 7.5/10

Lions coach Chris Fagan

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

4. Stuart Dew (Gold Coast Suns)
The Gold Coast Suns are an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. The media’s dialogue around them would have you believe that Dew already has one foot out the door. I am a little more optimistic and the Suns are my smokey to charge up the ladder next year.

The reason they’re as high as this is Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Ben King, Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell are all out of contract next year and without them winning more games I fully expect that multiple players will try and force their way out.

It also doesn’t help that Dew is out of contract next year with Clarkson on the board of available coaches. However, Dew is the longest tenured coach of the Suns for a reason and that is because he is able to man-manage exceptionally well.

Rating: 8/10

3. Michael Voss (Carlton Blues)
They went for Ross and they ended up with Voss. Now, I actually like the appointment of Voss. He’s a good coach, he has to deal with a tempestuous Carlton board that dramatically over rates their list and is impatient to see a rise up the ladder. With Carlton trading out yet another first-round pick to obtain the services of Adam Cerra, Voss does not have much margin for error as the board has shown they have no issue sacking a coach within their contract.

Rating: 9/10

Michael Voss, Senior Assistant Coach of the Power

(Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

2. Adam Simpson (West Coast)
Simpson has overseen the West Coast side for seven years and has made two grand finals as well as winning one and only missing finals twice. However, he has an ageing list, the Tim Kelly trade has largely backfired and his game style does not stand up to modern footy as it relies too heavily upon controlling possession and falls apart at the hint of pressure. With a hugely impatient supporter base, they may not accept a prolonged period down the bottom of the ladder.

Rating: 10/10

1. Brett Ratten (St Kilda)
The Saints clearly thought they were going to be challenging the top four yet they missed the eight altogether this year. They’ve aggressively traded for players they already have and paid massive overs for players who will not take them to the promised land. The pressure will only continue to mount as the Saints now have the longest premiership drought of all AFL sides and we know how misery loves company.

The aggressive trading also leaves them with less space to move to get talented out of contract players like a Ben King who they have been linked to in the past. The Saints will need to challenge the eight next year to relieve pressure on their coach otherwise Brett Ratten may be out of the job for the second time.

Rating: 11/10

There you have it, Roarers. Do you agree? Or disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and I will do my best to respond.