Is Nathan Buckley the right man to lead Collingwood past 2015?

Ask me this question seven weeks ago and I would have given you an answer within a heart-beat. The simple yes, how could you even consider questioning his position. Well, that’s speaking from a fan who has seen his Collingwood side sit 8-3 and 4th on the ladder. A gruelling month was ahead for Collingwood and would end up determining whether the Magpies were contenders or pretenders. Fremantle away, Hawthorn at the ‘G, Port in Adelaide, West Coast and the Doggies at Etihad was ahead for the young Magpies. So much expectation, so much pressure. The ultimate demise. Fast-forward to the 1st of August and Collingwood are 8-9 and are a game and a half outside the top 8. Six losses in a row including the embarrassing defeat to the lowly placed Demons had Pies fans wondering, is this Collingwood legend the right man to take this promising side forward? Is he another Tony Shaw or is he the next Mick Malthouse? Can he take Collingwood to a premiership in the desired window?

Nathan Buckley is undoubtedly one of Collingwood’s favourite son’s. 260 games for the black and white along with leading Collingwood to two Grand-Finals (both losses) and winning the Brownlow Medal in 2003 is enough evidence that he is one of the greatest. Not just for Collingwood, but in AFL history. A six-time best and fairest winner at Collingwood, along with being named in the All-Australian team seven-times shows the calibre of the player Nathan Buckley was. Especially, in the age of fantastic AFL midfielders such as Michael Voss, James Hird, Mark Ricciuto, Adam Goodes, Chris Judd and Simon Black showed how great he truly was. However, upon retirement in 2007 there was always the talk of him becoming a future coach of Collingwood and in 2009 he was assigned the role as Collingwood coach from the years 2012 onwards as part of a succession plan. Ironically, the man he was going to replace, Mick Malthouse won the premiership in 2010 and got the Magpies to another Grand-Final in 2011 which saw them defeated by the Cats.

Ever since Buckley has taken over, Collingwood has been under severe change. The pressure has been high for results and in 2012 he managed to lead Collingwood to 4th place and a Preliminary final going down to the eventual premiers Sydney. In 2013, once again Collingwood slumped even further with a first round finals exit to Port Adelaide at the MCG signalled the start of a “Magpies re-build”. By the time 2014 came around, Collingwood had lost nine premiership players. Which included Didak, Thomas, Johnson, Jolly, Beams and Shaw who were all key parts of our premiership success. The players who replaced these few were ambitious but selective which saw a new scope for a brand new future. Didak replaced by Adams, Thomas by Kennedy, Johnson by Seedsman, Jolly by Grundy, Beams by Crisp and Shaw by Langdon. All these new players showed the direction Buckley wanted to head in which included the captaincy passed on to Scott Pendlebury from Nick Maxwell. 2014 saw Collingwood start 8-3 but finish up 11-11 which saw numerous injuries and Collingwood relinquish finals in a blink of eye.

Do you see a resemblance? 8-3 to 11-11 in 2014. 8-3 to 8-9 in 2015. This is starting to worry me as a Pies fan. The season started brightly with a fantastic attacking brand of footy which saw our young players flourish such as Jack Crisp, Marley Williams, Tom Langdon and Jamie Elliott taking enormous strides. What has changed since the start of the season? Well not talking statistically but coming from a fan who watches the games. The vigour to win the contest seems to be gone. The confidence looks gone. The players are bombing it forward looking for a target that is just not there. The major issue Buckley has had is he has not had a “PLAN B”. He has one form of playing the game and that’s that.

Our defence has been heavily scrutinized for its lack of experience since Maxwell and Shaw left and has seen numerous defenders under 50 games being trialled down there. Brown and Toovey are the experienced duo who hold down those positions superbly but recently, Toovey has been poor and let his smaller, faster forwards get the better of him. Brown has been a rock and is severely underrated. Jack Frost, who has played 39 consecutive games out of his 41 in his entire career looks burnt out. Marley Williams has been fantastic and is going to get better as time goes on. Others such as, Brayden Maynard, Matt Scharenberg and Adam Oxley need time and will be fantastic players. Buckley can’t put the faith in a young defence which has been struggling and needs some cool experienced heads down there to conduct things back there. Something he has failed to fulfil over the past two years.

The forward line has been a major talking point as well. Travis Cloke has been misfiring. Ben Reid can’t get fit. Jesse White is a human log and Darcy Moore will be a champion but is still inexperienced. Collingwood need help up there. The forward line I saw on Saturday was utterly disgusting and showed a lack of experience and no one could do anything. Moore was in his 5th game taking the best defender. Witts or Grundy was the other forward who was struggling to make an impact. Whilst Fasolo (who is a small) was made to carry a forward line needing goals. Jamie Elliott was the sub, which was a very stupid decision from Buckley as he is one of the players Collingwood need on from the start and is a clear match winner. I know we were calling for White’s head for weeks but in a game like this White could have taken Tom McDonald allowing Moore to roam free and build on his five goals from the week before. Another stupid decision.

The selection panel needs to be re-assessed. Week in, week out there is a player by the name of Patrick Karnezis who’s performances have been banging on the door for weeks yet he still can’t get a look in. Do the coaches watch him? He is big, can run through the midfield, has speed and can take a nice mark. Better yet, he can kick goals. Isn’t that what we need? Jonathan Marsh, another example. Pies need a tall player up forward. Who do we recall? Paul Seedsman. Now look, nothing against Seedsman for his performance on ANZAC day but since then, my gosh he looks lost and turns over the ball so easily. Once again, Buckley playing his favourites and not giving a look at a player who has been tearing down the house in the VFL. Yes, Kennedy was another one of these players and he didn’t impress but it’s worth a shot. Matt Scharenberg. Pick six in the draft. Says it all. Still can’t get a game. Out of contract, a star in the making and FINALLY makes his debut as a very late in on the weekend. Played a very good game and shows he has serious potential and should play the remainder of the season. Buckley needs to look at this and give these players a shot instead of misfiring players who belong in the reserves. This has been a big problem of Buckley’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if these players end up leaving the club.

Collingwood fans want results. We are a proud club. We don’t want to be lingering around the outside of the 8 and be teased year in and year out of how well we CAN play but only be let down when it matters. Eddie you need to listen to us. Our season is falling away. We need to beat Carlton and effectively win 4 of the last 5 to make the 8. This also involves players in control of OUR destiny which we had control of for weeks. We want goals. We want results. We will stick by this club. But the crowds will dwindle. No one will want to watch the garbage we saw on Saturday. The crowds will go silently but the frustration will build unless Buckley can turn this around. Turn our season around and get us to that finals series first. Malthouse had TWO bad seasons in his rebuilding seasons and managed to get us to the finals from 06-09 in that stage before we got a premiership. Collingwood show up this weekend, beat the old rival, turn this nightmare into something to savour don’t go down without a fight. We still have five games to play. 20 points on the line. These 20 points should be a barometer for Buckley and if he should have his job when 2016 comes around. Don’t allow fear for losing a Pies legend get in the way of judgement. Follow Shaw’s example and make the right call. Win 3-4 of the next 5. Buckley stays. Fail that. Buckley goes.

 

Floreat Pica.

About Nicholas D'Urbano

17 years of age. Passionate Pies fan. Very opinionated. Aspiring writer

Comments

  1. Josh Napoli says:

    I have watched patty K . This kid is a genuine natural footballer with great smarts skills and beautiful movement. The kid also can kick and always kicks goals. He has great movement and just can create something out of nothing. Unfortunately Buckley does not value him because Buckley values only in and under bulls that are manic in their pressure however do not have the smarts or skills. That’s why the pies break down half way through the season. A team needs a good balance and this ridiculous style will never win premierships. Patty K brings that to our forward line, wing and even loose half back. This kid is silky and great to watch and to all those so called critics, he does not need to be the fastest runner or the most manic defender. Why? because he finds beautiful space, This kid is ahead of most of the players in the team and unfortunately for him Buckley has no bloody idea to coach!!

  2. very average article

  3. Agree that team selections seem very strange this year. Karnesis, Kennedy, Sharenberg have not had a fair crack. Kennedy as sub in 12 games, Elliot sub against Melbourne (is he not fit enough for a whole game?), Karnezis one game then dropped, yet De Goey plays 11 in a row? With Trav out, there are games when White has to play…such as against Melbourne. Kennedy made some mistakes against doggies but he got plenty of the ball. The turnover of defenders in such a short time has exposed the now very inexperienced defense to fatigue and inconsistency as the season progresses. Let’s hope the coach and selectors can put together a winning formula for the rest of the season.

  4. matt watson says:

    I like Collingwood.
    They’re good for football when they’re strong.

  5. Pies lost 3 out of 5. I been saying Buckley hadn’t got what it takes since he took over in 2012. Every year since we have slipped another couple of positions on the ladder and every year I hear another set of excuses from Buckley. Time to change and stop the excuses. Need an experienced coach which Buckley isn’t.

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