John Longmire is considered a successful coach having led the Sydney Swans to a premiership in 2012 and four grand finals in total.
However, he is now in his 13th season as coach, and I feel that there are signs that he is in his last two years at the helm – whether it is by mutual agreement, or he has been given verbal notice something is up at the Swans.
One of the reasons I feel things are getting serious is Longmire’s all-in strategy in the 2023 trade period.
Four players were added to the club during the trade period, including Brodie Grundy and Taylor Adams – as well as James Jordan and Joel Hamling.
After the 2022 Grand final it was apparent the Sydney team – was weight for weight not strong enough to contend in the most heated of battles. Almost in every position Sydney was lighter or smaller against their direct opponent.
Watching Zack Tuohy smile after he brushed off a Sydney player in the first quarter of the GF and waltz out to the wing, relaxed, with an easy kick into the forward 50, highlighted the difference between Premiership teams and the Swans that day.
Sydney stuck fat in the 2022 draft with a long-term strategy. However, during the 2023 trade period, Longmire made a number of decisions that reversed previous strategies and now clearly has designs to win the premiership in the very short term – even if it means sacrificing some long-term success or leaving his successor with extra work to do.
This brinkmanship will either be considered brilliant within two years or foolhardy.
But be under no doubt the game is on, Sydney must win a premiership in the next two years or Longmire will not be coaching the Swans in 2026.
His tenure has also moved him to that position in the Swans where it is less management team, and more about what Longmire wants.
The recruiting team would not have wanted to move on promising young talent like Hugo Hal-Kahan to make way for some battle-hardened but short-term warriors.
“Horse” Longmire is one of the more successful coaches in the AFL, but he is also one of the longest-serving coaches.
He has helped the Swans to win a premiership and reach four grand finals, but his outsized influence across what are in theory independent departments is also starting to take its toll on the club.
It will be interesting to see how the draft and rookie draft play out. If it is more of the same from the trade period it will be more about whether a player can play now, rather than the best future talent.
But no one ever won a grand final without being brave, so does Longmire go out with a bang, or a whimper?