It was your typical Monday morning in Australian sport. An NRL player found to be misbehaving and an AFL coach gets sacked.
In terms of the latter, it certainly wasn’t unexpected. Melbourne’s Mark Neeld had been under the pump since the start of the season. Smashing after smashing had taken its toll and Neeld was asked to clean his desk, taking a $600,000 pay-out cheque with him.
This sacking caps off a remarkable two years for the Demons, where perhaps they did have some bad luck but a lot of the trouble was caused in house.
It all started down in Geelong when then-coach Dean Bailey’s side was pumped by the Cats by a near-record margin of 186 points, leading to his sacking. Neeld was signed to a 3-year contract to coach the club and turn there fortunes around.
The great Jim Stynes passed away in March of 2012 and the Dees only recorded four wins for the year. Liam Jurrah and sponsor Energy Watch would also create headlines for Melbourne over the year.
Then tanking allegations hit the club hard over the off-season and they even copped some scrutiny over their involvement in the drugs scandal crisis usually associated with Essendon. The Dees would sack their CEO Cameron Schwab, have president Don McLardy resign and record just one win against the lowly GWS Giants before Neeld would be sacked.
But it’s quite obvious to everyone in the football world that the problems at the Melbourne Football Club stem a lot deeper than just the coach. Bad recruiting and bad management by the board have left this club in disarray.
Just years after the late Jim Stynes led the Debt-Demolition initiative for the club, the Dees now are back in debt and this combined with their poor performances on the field have led to compare the Fitzroy side of the mid-90’s that would eventually merge to form Brisbane with the current side.
There is no doubt whatsoever that this was a rash decision. Neeld was giving his marching orders only halfway in his term. Of course the performances by the side have been unacceptable, but he should’ve been given more time. Rome was not built in a day and compliments from Mick Malthouse suggest that Neeld could have given this club a winning culture.
Lets face it. Neeld never had a chance. Since Neale Daniher’s sacking midway through 2007, the Melbourne Football Club has been giving false illusions. Talented players who have been drafted by this club have not reached potential. The coach himself said it would take five years to turn this side into one that could challenge for the finals.
The coaching selection committee in 2011, which included club legend Garry Lyon, should have selected an experienced coach at the time to turn the club around, not an inexperienced one like Neeld.
This has sent Melbourne back to the same position they were after they lost to Geelong in 2011. Surely this time they will learn from their mistakes.
The names being thrown around include Sydney premiership coach Paul Roos, Mark Williams and Rodney Eade. Would any of these, particularly Roos, want to ruin their reputation by coaching such a disgraceful team?
Harsh but the truth. Roos himself would know what it’s like to be involved in such a club, having been a Fitzroy legend. One name that should be up for discussion is the current coach of the West Coast Eagles.
John Worsfold is rumoured to be giving up the head coaching reigns to assistant Scott Burns at the end of the year. He turned the failing Eagles formerly coached by Ken Judge into a Premiership winning side. He has a winning culture and can turn these players with high potential into superstars. It’s exactly what Melbourne need.
As for the current situation, Neil Craig, the man who only coached one win in his final nine games as Adelaide coach, will take be interim coach for the remainder of the season. Hopefully some improvement can come about for the sake of the long-suffering fans of the Dees.
One thing is guaranteed. There will be many more headlines to come about the Melbourne Football Club.