With the AFL finals about to blast off, the screws are slowly however certainly tightening on the coaches who’ve guided their groups into the prime eight.
For sure, all groups wish to progress deep into the spring, however some have larger expectations than others, and people screws dig a little bit deeper into the necks of the coaches who’ve their premiership home windows broad open.
WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Natalie Yoannidis’ coaching replace on the Pies
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Collingwood’s Craig McRae and Sydney’s John Longmire – with McRae new to the position and exceeding expectations by simply getting the Pies into the finals, and Longmire accountable for a younger group that is clearly constructing one thing particular – will undoubtedly keep away from an excessive amount of scrutiny by the finish of this finals campiagn.
Three-time premiership coach Damien Hardwick may also escape warmth (cups in the cupboard does that for you), and it’s extensively accepted he’s navigating his manner by way of a shifting listing demographic after a golden period.
However there is little question the glare of the focus will be – and already is – on Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.
Beveridge has managed to scramble his crew into the finals after a sputtering house and manner season. However it’s been an underwhelming yr for the 2021 grand finalist and questions have frequently been requested of the coach along with his crew’s defence usually trying all at sea this yr.
Beveridge additionally began the season with an explosive and controversial press convention and the crew received simply two of its first six video games. In 2016 when the Bulldogs beforehand performed in a grand closing (and received) under Beveridge, they had been additionally uninspired the following season and missed the finals in 2017 (they completed tenth).
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has executed an excellent job of resurrecting the Lions to make them an everyday characteristic of the finals after ending backside in 2017.
In 2019 the Lions completed second and had been instantly the buzz crew of the competitors, however that’s the place the pleasure ended.
Fagan has now coached his crew in six finals for only one win. The favored coach’s wining proportion in finals is simply 16.67. Whereas Fagan and his Lions could think about themselves unfortunate in the spring (a one-point loss to the Canines in the semi-final final yr, and a three-point-loss to GWS in the 2019 semi), they now have a repute for choking in large video games.
That repute was solely enhanced in the final match of the house and away season the place they had been torn aside on their house deck by Melbourne. Put merely, Fagan wants to start out profitable finals in any other case the critics will preserve coming and the jabs will get more durable.
Geelong coach Chris Scott has guided his crew to the prime of the ladder and reward has already been heaped upon him for the good administration of his gamers all through the season. Arguably, Scott has his finest shot at getting his fingers on a second piece of silverware (he famously received a flag in his first yr at the Cats in 2011). They head into this sequence as overwhelming flag favourites.
When Scott hangs up the magnet board, he’ll undoubtedly be hailed as one in all the finest coaches the sport has seen. His in-season profitable proportion is off the charts at 72.87 per cent following one other yr the place he went at over 80 per cent.
But when Scott needs to affix the teaching greats, he wants cups. Historical past is a tricky taskmaster and 50 years from now folks received’t have a look at the house and away win-loss, it’s all about flags.
4 premierships places you up there with the teaching immortals in Leigh Matthews, Alastair Clarkson, Ron Barassi, Tom Hafey, Kevin Sheedy, and co. Scott could not be round lengthy sufficient to gather three extra, however actually a second flag will preserve the wolves at bay and his legacy intact.
The Cats are unapologetic about constructing an inventory that places them in competition yr after yr, however the technique will once more be questioned in the event that they stroll away from 2022 empty handed. And if it is one other finals failure for Geelong, there’ll be a contact extra tarnish on Scott’s repute.