The sad but not entirely unexpected departure of Mark Neeld has led once again to the intense speculation that comes with finding a new coach.
Melbourne have a number of options they could choose to pursue, including: current AFL coaches possibly available at season’s end (Clarko, Woosher); recently departed coaches still in the system, who would be hard and tough (Williams and Eade); left field appointments (Ayres); media darlings (Roos); assistants with experience (Ratten and Harvey); or the familiar, untried, assistant coach path that has clearly worked so well for the Dees in recent years (Simpson, Burns, Rawlings etc)
However, there’s just as strong an argument for Melbourne to be an innovator, and to look for something that will truly bring attention to the club, challenge the players and the status quo, and mark Melbourne out as someone with a different game plan in the next few seasons.
With that, I have assembled a ‘second board’ of potential candidates Melbourne should not discount.
John Tomic – single minded, focussed, won’t let rules or governing bodies stand in his way of being where he needs to be. Will stand up and defend his players, leads by example, and not afraid to get his hands dirty. Possibly coming available due to a long tenure with his current charge becoming stale, will definitely shake things up.
Gordon Ramsey – maybe just the sort of thing a staid club clad in tartan rugs needs. Will shock some of the players with his language, but if reality TV is anything to go by (and it wouldn’t lie to me would it?) within about 45 minutes of meeting him and having him tear strips off you, the hotel or restaurant is running smoothly and everyone’s getting on fine. Has sporting experience from a brief soccer career in Scotland pre his current career path and will definitely be unorthodox in his individual tough love sessions. Could be attracted to the various styles of fruit cake served by long standing Dees members in the MCC too.
Seal – if you are only as good as your last game, then he’s the man. Will bring style and panache to the club, as well as a possibility of yellow nail polish. Has taken an untried draft pick with promise but some confidence issues all the way to the top, and stands up for what he believes in, even if it is reefer smoking mates, but that’s the sort of all-in coach support the Dees may need. Not a tough love sort of guy, but likely to encourage players and definitely knows about ‘being on the journey’.
Scott Cann (and Keith) – the Block duo are the perfect good cop/bad cop routine the Dees could thrive with. Skilled at turning chicken sh*t into chicken salad and working with conflict, their ability to create a vision, tease with reward, handle the unexpected (and bring in sponsors) could be of great use to the Dees at present. Savvy media performers, just down the road in South Melbourne, handy with a blackboard and could also cut the maintenance bills of the financially struggling club.
Ex Pope Benedict – if you need someone with experience in managing a vast, venerable, stale, long standing institution, that’s struggling for relevance, suffering falling attendances, who’s best years of domination are well behind them and desperately in need of prayer, who better than an ex Pope. He may only have a few seasons left in him, but if he bought in a team of assistants like Pell etc, we could see some impact early. Likely to be attracted more by the challenge than the money.
Jeff Fenech – enjoys talking about himself in the third person, which seems a pre-requisite for football people. Single minded, proven record, albeit it in an individual sprit, but the leading contender to win Celebrity Apprentice, so has recent form. Won’t bother the players with long meetings or PowerPoint slides, they’ll be a strong element of ‘just do it’ with Jeff, as well as lots of unintelligible mumbles that will be variously interpreted by players in completely different ways.
Caroline Wilson – with so many football people moving into the media, why not buck the trend and get a media person to go the other way. Better have them in the tent pissing out, rather than the other. Seems to have all the answers as to what’s wrong with the club, knows all the details about who is playing well, who’s trade bait, what ‘they’ should have done, so maybe the solution is staring us right in the face?
Me – whilst a 2012 record of 2 wins from 15 starts compares just belong Neeld’s 15% win rate, I have been a Team Manager to a flag winning Under 11 side and my development of young players has led to this year’s U13 coaching contingent winning three of their first 10. I’d work for far less than what Melbourne are looking to pay, know my way to the G (although Casey could be confusing initially) and having declared myself last year as being unavailable for test selection, I am no longer distracted by a potential clash of codes.
In addition, if Melbourne were prepared to give Neil Craig a few months and wait until the end of the season, there could be a few more options that are unexpectedly available and looking for work, such as Dave Warner, Shane Watson, Clive Palmer, Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard.
Melbourne has tried the orthodox and sought football people, with little result. The time is right to think outside the square, challenge the status quo, ramp up, run ideas up the flagpole and not retrospectively go back to where they once were, previously in the past, again, and repeat themselves twice, over and over.
After all, it is what it is, and what it is, is anyone’s guess, but isn’t what it should be.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.