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AFL coaches: who is under most pressure?


Jon Pierik and Matt Murnane

Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna.

Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna appears to be the man most under pressure heading into a new AFL season with little movement likely among senior coaches.

McKenna is off contract this season in an important year in which the Suns are expected to build on the eight wins they had last season and emerge as finals contenders.

While Suns chief executive Travis Auld has intimated McKenna will be given a contract extension, the pressure is likely to be on him to secure early wins or the club may be tempted to look elsewhere to take the next step.

Coahes under pressure

Coahes under pressure

McKenna tops Fairfax Media's Coaching Pressure Index.

Former Collingwood coach Tony Shaw believes McKenna deserves an extension but admits early season form could be a factor.

''I think 'Bluey' deserves one but you know what happens when things go bad and they don't keep improving with the personnel they have. You know what they are like. If another high-profile name comes up, they might have a dip at him,'' Shaw said.

But the improvement the Suns made last season has the club confident it is heading in the right direction.

McKenna looms as the only possible casualty after the 2013 upheavals in which West Coast, St Kilda, Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney shed their senior coach. But there is pressure of a different kind on others.

Stung by last year's fadeouts, North Melbourne has already spoken of the importance of returning to the finals after an off-season revamp under Brad Scott, and Nathan Buckley has orchestrated cultural change at Collingwood.

''Bucks has gone down a track, made some decisions. The thing I worry about is, they have a lot of talented kids but they are all pretty well mid-sized,'' Shaw, also a 3AW commentator, said.

''They still have some issues in defence. It depends on the guys that come back from injury.''

Into his second season at Carlton, and with a handful of prime movers in the 30-year-old bracket, Mick Malthouse faces a challenge to morph the Blues into a power.

''A lot of their issues are midfield depth - have they got enough of it? They are talking about a couple of kids coming straight in and having an impact as clearance players. I am thinking, 'Gee, that's a big ask','' Shaw said.

''Defence is still an issue and can you get the best out of [Chris] Yarran again.''

Paul Roos has been handed a multimillion-dollar contract to put his reputation on the line and rebuild Melbourne.

Last year's pressure index identified Brisbane's Michael Voss as most under pressure. He was sacked late in the season.

Here how your club's coach is faring:

Adelaide: Brenton Sanderson

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: Had an excellent first year when he guided the Crows into a preliminary final, before injuries and the loss of Kurt Tippett helped destroy 2013. But his ability to develop young talent - the Crows had a club-record four Rising Star nominations last season - helped earn the former Geelong assistant a two-year extension, having initially been signed through to the end of 2014.

Brisbane: Justin Leppitsch

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: After a tumultuous 2013 when Michael Voss was sacked and the board split, Leppitsch must not only unify what was a disgruntled playing list but help bring the club together. That being said, the Lions narrowly missed the finals last season and it would appear he has inherited a list on the rise. The Lions triple premiership player served his apprenticeship with Richmond, and it's hoped his playing pedigree will raise media exposure in what is still a tough northern market.

Carlton: Mick Malthouse

Contracted to end of 2015

State of Play: The Blues made the finals in Malthouse's first season care of Essendon's suspension and would appear to again be jockeying for a place in the lower rungs of the top eight. They crave a premiership but time is ticking for the likes of veterans Chris Judd, Kade Simpson, Heath Scotland and Jarrad Waite. Malthouse adjusted his boundary-orientated game plan early last season and he will need more from the likes of skipper Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Matthew Kreuzer if he is to deliver a top-four berth.

Collingwood: Nathan Buckley

Contracted to end of 2014

State of Play: Insists his team will be stronger in 2014 after overhauling the list, which included the likes of premiership stars Dale Thomas, Heath Shaw, Darren Jolly and Alan Didak leaving. Will be given time to usher through a new wave of talent which he can mould without any links to the past but there can only be so much patience at a club which boasts arguably the best facilities and one of the highest football-department spends in the league.

Essendon: Mark Thompson

Contracted to end of 2014

State of Play: Agreed to become caretaker coach in the absence of the suspended James Hird. In theory, has nothing to lose, for it appears Hird will return in time for the 2015 campaign. However could that change if Thompson delivers at least a top-four berth (the Bombers have the talent and players in the right age group to do so) and wants to continue coaching? Would he then even consider coaching elsewhere next year? On the other hand, his thirst for the job could wane if charges are laid by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency. This will be one of the intriguing sub plots of the season.

Fremantle: Ross Lyon

Contracted to end of 2015

State of Play: Has nothing to fear, for the Dockers will almost certainly hand him a contract extension, as early as this year. Unlikely to admit he has been scarred by a drawn and three losing three grand finals, and will go about his business in his typical, direct manner. Dockers will again challenge for a flag, in what could be a last stand for Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands and Luke McPharlin.

Geelong: Chris Scott

Contracted to end of 2015

State of Play: Another in the safe seat, as the Cats are again expected to challenge for a flag, having fallen just short last season. The departure of premiership stars continued last season, with Scott seen as the man to develop, even fast-track, elite young talent to fill these spots.

Gold Coast Suns: Guy McKenna

Contracted to end of 2014

State of Play: Appears to be the man in the hot seat. Suns chief executive Travis Auld has suggested McKenna will be given an extension, perhaps within months, but there would appear to be no need for the Suns to rush to a decision in a year when the remaining top roles appear to be safe. The Suns have improved in the past two seasons, and had eight wins last year. Need to generate more outside run and hope forwards Charlie Dixon, Tom Lynch and Sam Day can take control.

Greater Western Sydney: Leon Cameron

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: Having spent a year under Kevin Sheedy, Cameron now has full control. Has already made it clear his team needs to win early in the season to generate momentum on the field and in the market place, where the Swans have control. Not expected to push for the top eight, but need to prove they can consistently run out four quarters.

Hawthorn: Alastair Clarkson

Contracted to end of 2014

State of Play: "Officially" coming into the final year of his contract, but the club has confirmed it is in the final stages of negotiations that would tie Clarkson to the Hawks until 2016. Showed last year why he is rated one of the best coaches in the game by limiting the role of his best player (Lance Franklin) in order to make the team a more potent force. A second premiership in six years was just reward, and there seems little reason for either party to be unhappy with the current arrangement, with the Hawks still in contention for another flag.

Melbourne: Paul Roos

Contracted to end of 2015, with an option for 2016

State of Play: Just how quickly he can get the lowly Demons to adopt the Paul Roos philosophy will be one of the most fascinating stories of 2014. The Demons were non-competitive at times last season, so just earning back respect will be the club's first priority. Roos has already signalled his intent to make the Demons far better defensively - his trademark at Sydney - and has already brought in several elements that proved successful during his time at the Swans.

North Melbourne: Brad Scott

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: The Roos made it clear their coach is not going anywhere by locking him up with a three-year extension last season. North has played just one final in Scott's four years, and finished no lower than 10th. Although this is the year Roos supporters will expect to see their club challenge deep into September, possibly from a top-four platform. The recruitment of Nick Dal Santo tops off a strong list, however finding the balance between attack and defence is an ongoing challenge for the Roos.

Port Adelaide: Ken Hinkley

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: Could not have had a better debut season, voted coach of the year by his peers after taking the Power from basket case in 2012 to the second round of finals in 2013. His position looks rock solid as the club has made much about creating stability in its "four pillars" - coach, captain, chief executive and president. Puts plenty of faith in fitness guru Darren Burgess to get his players super fit and will need them to show the same hunger in 2014 to make sure the team's improvement curve continues in the right direction.

Richmond: Damien Hardwick

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: The man who finally took the Tigers to September was rewarded with a two-year contract extension shortly after the club's surprise elimination final exit. Have recruited players to fill specific needs over the past few seasons and increase their depth. However the biggest improvement last season came defensively. Having broken their finals drought, the next aim will be to claim a top-four spot, although just ensuring they make the top eight again will be hard enough.

St Kilda: Alan Richardson

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: Walks into one of the toughest jobs in football on the back of an unconventional appointment. Has three years to instigate a re-build and has already made an impression on the players with his straight-line approach. His contribution to Port Adelaide's sudden resurgence last year was unmistakable, and so St Kilda supporters will be hopeful he can do something similar, albeit perhaps not so quickly, given his coaching apprenticeship has been lengthly and mirrors that of Power coach Ken Hinkley. The Saints have outlined a clear direction for the future - to become a premiership contender within five years - and have turned to the draft to support it. Richardson's job will be demonstrate the steps of improvement.

Sydney: John Longmire

Contracted to end of 2015

State of Play: The Swans' 2012 premiership victory triggered a one-year contract extension for Longmire. The expectation is high, with the Swans already installed as premiership favourites in some markets. The challenge this season will be to ensure the controversial Lance Franklin deal works, on the field, and that his persona and pay check fit into the club's "bloods" culture. Remember, the Swans lost a lot of depth on their list to accommodate Franklin and, the year before, Kurt Tippett. If Longmire can devise a game plan that will allow the high-priced pair to co-exist, the Swans could go all the way again. Although finding that chemistry as early as possible will be pivotal.

West Coast Eagles: Adam Simpson

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: The first-time senior coach has plenty of time - he signed a three-year deal - and everything he needs to turn one of the league's most well-resourced clubs back into a premiership contender. This time last year, the Eagles were the popular choice for flag favourites but injuries to a host of the club's top names throughout a turbulent 2013 brought an end to that and John Worsfold's time at the club. The list is good, ranked by Champion Data as the third best, however Simpson needs the likes of Nic Naitanui, Beau Waters and Sharrod Wellingham to stay healthy and find their best.

Western Bulldogs: Brendan McCartney

Contracted to end of 2016

State of Play: Endured a difficult initiation in his first season as the Dogs lost their last 11 games of 2012 and faded out badly in the second half of matches. However the faith he showed in teaching the young players a contested brand of football was rewarded at the end of 2013 when the Dogs finished off the season well to notch eight wins for the year - three more than 2012. Seeing signs of the team they could become under McCartney, the Dogs opted to extend his contract by two years.


  • I disagree that Richardson 'has plenty of time' at the Saints. His first two opponents as a senior coach are Melbourne and GWS. If he loses those, he'll never, ever recover.

    Date and time
    January 22, 2014, 2:10PM
    • Football supporters come out with the craziest comments.The man has been in the coaching game for 15 years, I reckon he knows what he's in for and that it's not a '3 minute noodle' meal

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 2:49PM
    • so if the Saints lose the first two but then win most games from then on he will never recover? - how interesting

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 7:32PM
    • Children, behave. If St.kilda lose to Melbourne and GWS they will most certainly win less than the five wins of last year which saw a coach get sacked. It's unlikely, but with Roosy, and a year older GWS, Richardson shouldn't be looking any further than April 2014.

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 11:46PM
    • I agree Bill. StKilda are the most dysfunctional club in the league. I feel sorry for anyone roped into coaching that club, because they don't stand a chance. They'll win two games for the year and the spoon.

      Date and time
      January 23, 2014, 8:26AM
  • It is still Cricket season!

    Office Rabbit
    Date and time
    January 22, 2014, 2:16PM
    • Yes, it is still cricket season and I think the tennis dose not finish until the weekend but not to worry, the footy is just around the corner.

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 2:34PM
    • Ha ha ha hilarious :) I understand.

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 2:42PM
    • I know - which is why we need to start thinking about the REAL GAME or we'll never make it through February. :)

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 2:49PM
    • It is never not football season. Pre season starts in two weeks.

      Date and time
      January 22, 2014, 4:07PM

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HuffPost Australia

AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all

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