Williams not heir apparent
GWS assistant coach Mark Williams speaks to players at quarter-time during their loss to St Kilda at Etihad Stadium last weekend. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
YESTERDAY'S long-awaited formalisation of Kevin Sheedy's new one-year deal with Greater Western Sydney said just as much about two other premiership coaches who, it now seems, will never coach the AFL's youngest club.
One is Paul Roos. The other is Mark Williams. Both, for completely different reasons, would seem to have done their dash in senior coaching terms for the Giants.
Roos, because he has been seen by the club since day one as a non-believer in the cause and - worse - a subversive influence in a teflon-like market. It seems unlikely he would ever have considered the job and intriguing that both Sheedy and his chief executive, Dave Matthews, have taken aim at the revered former Swans coach in recent days. Matthews yesterday described Roos as ''irrelevant'' where the Giants were concerned.
Kevin Sheedy. Photo: Getty Images
Williams has proved as difficult to handle as the club had feared and far too negative to ever be considered the front man of a pioneering club in perilous territory. The Sheedy optimism, which eventually grated on Essendon, remains a tonic for the Giants. Interestingly, where Williams was brought in because Sheedy needed an experienced coach in touch with the modern game, it seems that Sheedy has been seen around the club as the perfect foil for Williams.
Williams won't like this because he has proved a worthy sidekick to Sheedy and remains one of football's best teachers. The two get along famously. But the fact is that he has proved a far from unifying factor at a club that was dangerously fractured until the end of last year as it teetered under the wrong choice of chief executive. Not to mention an AFL head office that took too long to rectify a bad situation.
Matthews said yesterday that the club would not force Williams - whose contract is now in line with Sheedy's and ends next year - to stay should he be offered a senior position elsewhere, but the Carlton job is Mick Malthouse's if he accepts it, as expected, and surely Williams would not coach Port Adelaide again.
Much was made of the fact that Williams might have replaced Sheedy in 2013, but that stopped being a possibility long ago. Williams knew it. Tellingly, for all the work Williams does at the club, he rarely fronts the media. More tellingly, he was not approached last season by St Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne or, less surprisingly, Adelaide when those clubs looked for new coaches.
Williams has one of the AFL's more challenging and rewarding jobs at GWS and it will remain thus, but the view at the club is that his attitude could improve.
The club appears to have long given up on Roos, certainly its executive and football department have. Only Sheedy as a senior coach could have got away with ruling out ''The Sundance Kid'', as he used to call him, from being a replacement.
Roos said on Monday night that his comments about the club had been misconstrued when he spoke last week at a PricewaterhouseCoopers function in Sydney - PWC sponsors both GWS and the Swans. Roos denied saying the Giants would be gone in four years.
Matthews, who remains on secondment as CEO to the club from the AFL and whose contract negotiations have been delayed but should be completed within weeks, did not buy Roos' protestations and has told him as much.
''He [Roos] spoke to me over the weekend and he was a bit flustered,'' said Matthews. ''He was keen to clarify his comments, but last week, to be frank, was just one example of Paul's views on the club.
''I told him he had every right to his views as a commentator and most people are of the impression that this is going to be a struggle, so I've got no problem with that. I just don't agree with him and, given that he thinks that way, this is one club he shouldn't ever be linked to.''
Roos has been a festering sore for the GWS for some time - since he was coaching Sydney and the club took its first baby steps. Now the gloves are off.
Where Williams is concerned both parties - club and senior assistant - need to address what has become an increasingly sore situation and one that threatens to become something much more damaging. It doesn't need to be like this.