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Collingwood fans, the grass isn’t always greener


Another week, another news cycle dominated by the Collingwood Football Club.

On Footy Classified on Monday night, I was adamant that coach Nathan Buckley needed to express his coaching ambitions beyond 2021.

By coincidence he delivered in emphatic fashion when he fronted the media on Tuesday.

"Do I want to continue? The short answer is yes. Do I want to coach? Yes," Buckley told reporters.

Inadvertently, Buckley’s admission places more pressure on new president Mark Korda and footy boss Graham Wright. These men will have to decide, within the next 12 weeks, if Buckley is their man.

On Wednesday night’s Footy Classified, former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was adamant that the negative narrative around Buckley is grossly unfair.

"I don't understand the narrative. 2018 coach of the year, one kick off a premiership, 11 players under 30 games, five players under 10," said Lyon.

"They haven't been blown away in a game. No De Goey, Adams, Howe and Elliott and we're talking about is he coaching well?

"He's been calm, he's been measured and I just don't like the narrative. I think it's wrong and he's doing everything right.

"He's compelled to say, 'I want to coach', and he's done the right thing."

Buckley is part way through his 10th season in charge and there is a myth circulating that 10 years is too long for a coach at one club who hasn’t won a premiership.

I wonder why that is? Why do people believe that? And do we discard coaches too quickly?

At the conclusion of Richmond's disastrous 2016 season - Damien Hardwick’s seventh year at the helm - most Richmond supporters wanted him gone. Luckily the under-fire board backed him in and the results have been nothing but stunning.

Imagine if the Tigers buckled to its own supporters – the sack Hardwick brigade.

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley faced similar backlash from his own passionate fans at the end of 2019 season when he failed to qualify for the finals.

A petition signed by thousands of Port fans was testament to that. A season later Hinkley’s men finished on top of the ladder and were a kick away from a Grand Final berth. Right now, Hinkley is in career-best coaching form.

Mick Malthouse at Collingwood, Mark Williams, Ross Lyon and Brett Ratten at Carlton weren’t so lucky and were arguably moved on prematurely.

So, what if Collingwood don’t make the finals and Buckley gets the sack?

Who will fill the vacancy?

Collingwood, to borrow Chris Judd's phrase, won’t employ someone that needs "training wheels".

History says they will only go for a big name.

They would surely start at Alastair Clarkson and work its way down the food chain from there. Other current premiership coaches such as Adam Simpson, Damien Hardwick and Luke Beveridge would be sounded out but the chances of the Pies landing one of them is about 150 to 1.

Then the attention would turn to the Ross Lyon or Paul Roos types. The successful former coaches with big reputations and impressive resumes. Unfortunately, those two have been far from convincing that they want to coach again.

On the next tier are the ones that have done it before but were moved on by their clubs after moderate success such as Justin Leppitsch or Michael Voss.

At the bottom of Collingwood’s food chain are the untried, training-wheel types that they would reluctantly hire.

We all know Buckley can coach. This season he’s been let down by terrible list management and untimely injuries.

Now that he has expressed his desire to coach again next year, his only acceptable replacement could be a giant whale such as Clarkson.

If Collingwood don’t want him, one of the other 17 clubs will.

Collingwood fans, the grass isn’t always greener.

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