Throughout the season many of us have asked where has it gone so wrong? Who is and should be held accountable? We've pointed the finger at the coach, assistant coaches, captains, and players alike. One thing is for sure, we cannot have a repeat next year or we'll be soon seeing an exodus of quality talent and yet another rebuild.
I'll admit I've requested certain heads to roll, but in fairness I've based this on only my observations and theories (like many of us).
What I do request from the board is a thorough third-party and unbiased club-wide review.
As there is clearly something or multiple things wrong, they need to be fixed and amended immediately. I truly don't think we can point the finger at "lazy" "unskilled" players, as they showed us what they were capable of one season prior. Likewise, the "injury" excuse is just that, an excuse. These are the things that come to mind:
- The new CEO and how he works needs to be evaluated.
- The coach, his game plan, adaptability on match day, and his weekly roster (e.g. are there too many meetings and not enough skill sessions, e.g. B.Bolton) needs to be evaluated.
- The assistant coaches, are they leaders, are they knowledgeable, do they fill players with confidence, are they approachable, are they good communicators or simply ex-players etc.?
- List management, many of us have criticized Josh Mahoney's ability to negotiate at the trade table. Furthermore, is there friction from him regarding the rejection of Jackson's CEO succession plan?
- The captains, are they actually leading on the field. Are they constantly moving and placing their troops in the right positions around the field, or are they just trying to lead by example (playing)?
- The players, are there any particular one generating a toxicity and disdain towards others within the group?
- Are there any tensions between sectors and groups above. Why?
With that said, I think the players at least for now should be spared (unless if there is a bully). I hope each player gets the opportunity to privately and confidently inform a third-party as to what they think is wrong because I guarantee you the answer lies within the opinions of the collective playing group.
Once the pain points are identified, the best way to get back on track is to amend relationships over the preseason. If we fix what's wrong between the player's ears, other things such as skill and ability to execute will follow. The worst thing that comes to mind is yet another push for a special forces training camp. Instead, do something like a 9-day trek along the Kokoda track, with a skills session each evening in the rural villages along the way. Hawthorn have done it multiple times, one of which at the end of 2011 prior to their 4 consecutive grand final appearances. I also did it when I was 21 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I couldn't think of any better relationship building excise.