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Dees lack method in their madness


Chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age

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Are the Dockers the real deal?

Rohan Connolly and Greg Baum review round ten of the AFL season, including Fremantle's gutsy win over Adelaide.

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Melbourne announced only what is patently obvious anyway, that it is in an unholy mess.

Nearly half-way through a season that has been an unmitigated disaster, following yet another 15-goal defeat, as the fans desert in droves, the Demons could say only that they were having a good, long look at themselves, and that new chief executive Peter Jackson would have an even better and longer look.

Concerning beleaguered coach Mark Neeld, Melbourne announced only that there would be no announcement. The ''full confidence of the board'', as everyone knows, is bad enough for a coach, but this was even worse: neither full confidence, nor the total loss of of it, but ''ongoing assessment''. The procrastination becomes its own mute announcement.

Of course, Melbourne is not obliged to act on ghoulish public interest, nor at the whim of media that spent most of Monday peering under the door and over the wall of the embattled club. It should not be panicked into acting precipitously.

But this crisis did not just spring upon the Demons. From the 13-goal defeat to Port Adelaide on opening weekend, it has been staring the club in the face.For more than two months, the Demons have been looking into it.

By now, the committeemen must know whether they take Neeld at his word, that there is method somewhere in this murkiness, that even as the losses mount, incremental gains are being made, that this is all part of the plan. If not before Monday's board meeting, then certainly after it, they must have known whether they thought this was vision or delusion.

I agree with Neeld that you have to be on the inside truly to know. The board is on the inside. And instead of either backing Neeld or moving on, it could say only that it wasn't not backing him.

The committee will say it has its reasons. President Don McLardy's statement is rich in bureaucratic jargon, but otherwise hollow. It leaves the impression the redrawing of a few flow charts will solve everything. But how about the one so conspicuously missing, with a line linking the centre circle to the goal square? A football club is a business not quite like any other. It trades chiefly in hope, a perishable commodity. Such hope as it ever has is invested in the senior coach. He must either be fully in, or fully out.

It is incomprehensible that Neeld has been left hanging. Melbourne's next match is its biggest of the year, the Queen's Birthday clash with Collingwood. Unless another announcement is imminent, it will be played in a void.

What are the players to make of it when Neeld stands before them at the whiteboard this week? What are the fans to think? Melbourne's membership department shingle was out pre-game at the MCG last Sunday, and extraordinarily, it looked to be doing a trickle of business. If only the Demons' board would do the same.

5 comments so far

  • The Melbourne FC is being let down badly by just about everybody involved. Neeld is doing the best he can, but it's pretty obvious the players are not buying it. The players look disinterested and should be handing back their pay. The Board, led by a hopeless president, appointed a newbie coach and expected him to change the club's culture. That says everything right there. This is the Board that turned down some of the best current coaches, oversaw the deliberate losing of games and then sacked/reappointed a devisive CEO. It now procrastinates on the coach. Perhaps it is mindful that sacking each coach makes finding another all the more difficult. The first thing this board should do is sack itself. It has shown the football world that it hasn't got the foggiest idea of how to run a club.

    Date and time
    June 04, 2013, 9:58AM
    • Melbourne might, just might, make a good VFL side! They haven't got any AFL standard players.

      Date and time
      June 04, 2013, 11:27AM
      • It's like watching a sinking ship, only the captain of this ship is staying true to the plan. It would appear, from the outside looking in: the business model has changed from the end of last year to now. REBUILD, rebuild REBUILD was clearly the call. But now, let's not rebuild as we can't handle the pain!! So lets change what we're doing, let's go for short term wins at the expense of the criteria we set-out collectively prior to last years draft, yeah?? The Hawks were brave enough, Tigers did it, west coast and others have done it and now Gold Coast and GWS are doing it.. Why can't they just bear the pain for one season or even two?? I know it hurts, that's what pain does but it will subsided and success will come.. STICK TO THE PLAN or sack the board with coach and start AGAIN!!

        Date and time
        June 04, 2013, 11:46AM
        • The difference is that clubs like Hawthorn never tanked or started telling their players that losing was cool. It would take a big player cleanout to get rid of all the Melbourne players who were involved in tanking (although some have left already).

          Date and time
          June 04, 2013, 12:36PM
      • I know the perfect way for Melbourne to increase its membership and create a better financial position. Anybody want to hear it?

        Date and time
        June 04, 2013, 12:34PM

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