The AFL industry has shut up shop for a record 21 days over Christmas.
As per AFL orders, players, coaches and staff will be off the grid until well into the new year.
Despite the respite from official duties, some of the AFL coaches will find it impossible to switch off as they wolf down their turkey and pudding on Christmas day.
Unfortunately, as is the case in the cut-throat industry of the AFL, it is highly doubtful that all of the current 18 AFL coaches will be employed by their current club this time next year.
That’s the reality of it; it’s a brutal business.
The next five coaches must try and enjoy the Christmas break the most, as they will enter 2019 under a media storm of scrutiny and pressure from frustrated and fed up supporters.
The coaching pressure list:
5. John Worsfold – Essendon
It is a ‘no-excuse’ year for the man they call Woosha.
A-grade recruit Dylan Shiel comes in to fill what from the outside looks to be the only weakness in a playing squad jam-packed with stars.
Joe Daniher will return after a disastrous 2018 and the Bombers big-man department is as strong as any. Essendon’s season was over before the halfway mark of 2018 as they recorded only two wins from the first eight games.
Expectations are high amongst Bombers fans.
The bookies have them fifth favourite for the flag. A finals win next year is an absolute must.
4. Ken Hinkley – Port Adelaide
Kenny is contracted to the club until the end of 2021 so his job is in no way threatened.
He’s got a long-term deal, he’s got security.
However, he is without a finals win in over four years and you feel the pressure is coming from the board - led by outspoken president David Koch.
Hinkley must figure out a way to rejuvenate the midfield, fix the diabolical skill level and become more potent in attack.
3. Ross Lyon – Fremantle
Lyon has won only 20 out of a possible 66 games since the Dockers finished minor premiers in 2015. From the outside the club looked in need of a complete rebuild but Lyon has appeared reluctant to fully embrace the idea.
His reputation took a hit last season with some off-field drama and his relationship with the Perth and Victorian media appears strained.
In the off-season he finally recruited the much-needed key forward he has craved in Jesse Hogan, who is returning home to Perth to play for the Dockers
He also has arguably the game’s best player in Nat Fyfe, who is entering his prime along with some high draft picks and serious talent at his disposal.
As one of the games highest paid coaches Lyon will need to record 12 wins or more next season to get the brutal Perth media off his back in 2019.
2. Brendon Bolton – Carlton
Not many coaches in this league survive a coaching record that boasts just 15 wins from three seasons.
Coming off a shocking two-win season in 2018, the Carlton board has backed in Bolton as their man.
Their faith will be truly tested if the Blues don’t show significant improvement next season and return a win column that shows at least 7-8 wins in 2019.
1. Alan Richardson – St Kilda
Richo is one of the great guys of football, but unfortunately being a great bloke doesn’t guarantee you a job for life.
He enters his sixth season at the helm of the St Kilda footy club and has yet to qualify the team for finals.
His best return was 12 wins and ninth position on the ladder in 2016. It’s a massive first half of the season for Richo with Brett Ratten now on the coaching staff and waiting in the wings to take over.
It’s going to take a Christmas miracle for the Saints to make the eight next year and guarantee Richo a job beyond 2019.
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