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Bombers great Watson comments on Neeld’s sacking


Essendon champion Tim Watson has labelled Mark Neeld’s sacking shows the Bombers’ coaching set-up was “wrong and incorrect.”

The Dons sensationally axed Neeld yesterday, as the club responded to its poor 2-6 start to 2018.

Reports have indicated there has been a power struggle amongst Essendon’s coaches, with assistants Mark Harvey, James Kelly, Paul Corrigan and Hayden Skipworth not being able to speak up and have their say in regards to game strategy.

That job was left to senior coach John Worsfold, Rob Harding and Neeld.

According to Watson, the tension between the coaching staff displays they entered the year with a framework that hasn’t yielded success.


“What has been proven is that structure has been wrong and incorrect,” he told SEN Breakfast.

“We have heard about this blockage in terms of information and feedback and help from other line coaches that has or hasn’t been fed through to John Worsfold.

“It is unusual and it is curious about this person would get the sack, as opposed to someone else, but that’s their structure.

“It depends on the structure you have in place and the responsibilities you assign those people and how big those responsibilities are and how far reaching they might be.

“Looking at this and the how it played out, Mark Neeld was the game performance coach.

“I think anybody who has watched Essendon, there has been a real failure in the way that they’ve performed, the way they’ve set-up, the strategy, the tactics.

“Everybody has talked about the way they’ve tried to defend, which is against the trend of the competition. All those sort of things.”

Watson also explained how the in-season sacking of an assistant coach is a model often seen in the American sporting system.

“What they’re saying is they need change, they need to start now, they don’t want to let the season slip away any further than what it already has now,” he said.

“If you analyse it, that whole idea of assigning roles to people, it’s very much an American system where you have a defensive coach, offensive coach and all that type of thing.

“If something doesn’t work, then you identify this is the problem we got, they do that all time in the NFL where an offensive line coach gets the sack mid-way or early in the season if they’re not performing.”

Melbourne team of the century member Garry Lyon said he was surprised by the news, because it’s usually the senior coach that takes the fall, not his off-siders.

Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell told the club’s website Neeld’s removal will help “create greater clarity and alignment in the coaching group.”

The Bombers will look to revive their campaign this Saturday against Geelong, and you can hear the game live on 1116 SEN with Gerard Whateley, Stephen Quartermain, Bob Murphy and Liam Pickering.

Tim Watson Essendon SEN Breakfast Garry Lyon

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