Crio’s Question: Spotlight on the coach

The term “Manager”, long deployed in European football, is nowadays appropriate for AFL.
Aussie Rules coaches don’t just instruct on kicking and marking, but employ a range of strategies and methods to get results.
There’s the Barassi/Malthouse dominate and humiliate process, a hangover from the hot-gospeller/motivator role.
Yabby Jeans seems to have been memorialized as a blend of the old orator and the newer mentor. T-shirt Tommy, in his own way, was also a hybrid of the emphatic rant and the paternal affection.
Finding the right mix seems to be the challenge.
At Chelsea and Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho presents as a bigger personality than even his hyped underlings. At Swindon and latterly Sunderland, Paolo di Canio’s bullying saw him frogmarched.
“Man-managers” are the way of the day: finding a connection to the emotionally fragile, bloated ego, monster sport celeb millionaires is the challenge.
Port Chairman David Koch claimed that Kenny Hinckley’s appointment was about much more than footy smarts. Cynics look at the “culture” left post-Micky at the Eagles and the Pies.
At the Western Bulldogs, we are hoping McCartney’s model is the future. But it is interesting to study techniques – and even question the criteria for success….winning titles or a bigger picture?
Wayne Bennett, Guus Hiddink, Phil Jackson….
Is coach still an appropriate term in footy? And as fan/player/member/parent…what do you want from the Club figurehead?


  1. Ian Granland says

    Yes, I think you have a good point but trying to change peoples’ thinking on this issue will prove very difficult.

    The only thing that worries me is that the ‘Manager’ could then very well take centre stage from the club itself, not to say that this, in terms of an AFL coach, has already happened?

  2. Peter Fuller says

    I’m not sure there is a direct comparison with English (perhaps European) soccer. As I understand it, the role of soccer manager has in order of importance, team tactics, player recruitment and then supervision of training/practice (to the extent that this activity is distinct from match-day tactics). At English clubs, there seems to be some-one employed with the designation coach, who would equate to AFL teams’ fitness supervisors and skills coaches.
    I recall that Grant Thomas (uniquely) took on responsibility for player contracts at St. Kilda, which made him the closest approximation in our game to the European model.
    Given the army of subordinates – line coaches, list managers, recruiters, team managers, fitness and medical staff etc. – that now report to the person in the coach’s chair, the contemporary AFL coach is an approximation of the business world’s CEO. He sets the strategy and plan, but he is dependent on a host of people to see that it is carried out.

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