It was a pretty St Kilda focused night on the various panel show, with Peter Summers comments on the weekend sending them into a feeding frenzy over the future of coach Alan Richardson. AFL360 was riveting viewing with both hosts taking the opportunity, presented by Richardson’s regular appearance on the show, to grill the coach about his thoughts on what the President said and his long-term future. Let’s take a look at this, and what else was said on Monday night’s panel shows.
Luke Darcy stopped just short of outright mocking Peter Summers weekend comments on his opener to Monday Night’s Talking Footy. It was a little like open season after that with Sam McClure claiming it was the ‘most stunning interview of the year’. Obviously missing the memo to be over the top, Campbell Brown was a little more earnest and obvious in his opinion that the Saints were closer to bottom four than top four and that the comments from the President were unlikely to be aligned with that of the Football Department. Wayne Carey, not wanting to miss out, wondered why Summers placed such high regard on the clubs draw with GWS given the struggles that club is going through themselves.
The mood changed however when posed with the question ‘What they would have wanted the President to have said?’
After having opened the show all but mocking Summers for his comments, Luke Darcy was a little more circumspect. Having picked them to finish in the top eight in 2018, he admitted that he did not see this slide coming. He backed Summers for having shown faith in the team and suggested that had he said anything otherwise he would be receiving more criticism than he is.
“You want one thing out of your president,” Brian Taylor interjected. “Support for the football department, that’s all you need and all you want,” he said. When pressed by Carey about whether the members were owed the truth, Taylor expressed the view that was for behind closed doors.
Unhappy with that response Carey interrupted once more. “Surely supporters aren’t that silly,” the former North Melbourne Captain spat out. “They don’t truly believe what he is saying there,” he expressed to the panel. Taylor agreed that supporters weren’t that silly. “They’ll see how St Kilda is going and draw their own conclusions,” Taylor responded.
Having strayed for too long into the considered and even-handed, they returned to the sensational with the question – Which team is furthest from a flag? Given that there was no other team offered as means of comparison, it was not surprising who the panel agreed upon. “Before the year I wouldn’t have said St Kilda,” Carey said before nominating St Kilda. “I think it’s St Kilda aswell,” Campbell Brown piped up eager for attention before taking a pot shot at the Saints win over Richmond last year for no real apparent reason.
Tom Browne spoke with Saints Football Operations Boss Simon Lethlean about the current situation. The former AFL Football Operations Manager did his best to dampen the blood lust in the media about a possible imminent movement on Coach Alan Richardson. “We won’t be making any rash decisions, we will be making informed decisions at the right time,” he carefully batted away the question. Unsurprisingly he refused to be drawn on the panels assertion that the club was the furthest away from winning the flag and remained confident that they could land a big fish come trade time.
Browne added afterwards that Lethlean expected both Jake Carlisle and Paddy McCartin would be fit to play Richmond after their recent concussions. It was also reported that the Saints Psychologist was working overtime with the players in an attempt to overcome the club’s goal kicking yips.
Initially ignoring the elephant in the room, Alan Richardson was asked about his message to Rowan Marshall on the weekend. The Coach explained that he wanted Marshall to back himself and was happy that he responded well when he was called upon to replace the injured Nathan Brown.
He was also positive about Tim Membrey, telling the panel he was happy with his efforts and had been working hard with him to ensure that he continued to back himself. With the results he was getting in the other facets of his game combined with the work he was putting in on the track, Richardson again expressed his confidence that it will turn around for him.
While this was positive to hear, it was from this point on that things got interesting.
Asked about Peter Summers comments about the club’s expectations of being a top four team remained, Richardson was at pains to put them in some context. Suggesting that the expectation was more around potential and finding a level of consistency. While expressing that they were at present ‘a pretty ordinary footy team’ Richardson expressed his view that if they could achieve the consistency, that has deserted them all season, that they could be a very good football team.
Gerard Whateley: The competition is telling you that you are nowhere near the top four, and the president is saying ‘we will be the team we expect and want to be’. I can’t marry those two up and I did the interview.
Alan Richardson: Are you suggesting that he was talking about this year? Because that is not my understanding.
AR: He is talking about us becoming, with the group that we have, based on our chairman being our chairman for quite a while now seeing this group of blokes predominantly – we’ve had some experience move out – win more games than they lose in the last two years. Clearly under performing this year. But he has seen this group, as have I, play to a much higher level, at a much more consistent level than we are presenting at the moment. That is where those comments come from.
GW: If he thinks you are a top four team, your president, then I would fear for you. I would fear for you as coach if the President is holding to the view that you are a Top Four team.
AR: I like the fact that our chairman has high expectations of our footy department, out of our playing group and we all acknowledge that we aren’t performing anywhere near that level at the minute and everyone is working their backside off to make sure that we get there.
Mark Robinson: I need to ask ya, Richo, at 1-9, whether the expectation is high or whatever, at one win from nine games, that is a terrible result. You come in here every Monday and we talk about areas that are going well and areas that are going bad but after a while St Kilda fans must be thinking there’s got to be a circuit breaker. A win. Anything.
The longer it goes, people are asking questions. They are asking me questions. I asked Nick Riewoldt are they asking you questions and I’m sure they are asking Gerard. Do you fear for your future? If this continues? If it’s suddenly 3-14 or 2-12 do you have time to think about your own survival or is it absolutely everything on the footy team.
AR: All my energy is about fixing our game and becoming much more consistent. The weekends game is a good example. Three really competitive quarters and a quarter where weren’t able to maximise our opportunities. You look at the numbers just on the game and if you saw the game you’d agree with it. So there are parts, I think are heading the right way, there are areas we still need to work on.
We’re not going to hide as a footy club and say it’s just coaching or it’s just players. We clearly look at ourselves, and I look at myself from a coaching perspective, its my job is to get them more consistent. But the players certainly have a responsibility too. I reckon our leaders have been pretty good, in the absence of some leaders who have moved on and we’ve got some injuries to some older players. We were a pretty young group coming into the season, and the next group – like Webster is doing and like Dunstan is doing – need to become much more consistent with their performance. So that is my focus Robbo.
MR: How do you feel about me asking that question our future?
AR: I understand it. I think we (gesturing to co-panelist Chris Scott and himself) know the industry we are in. Questions will be asked when you are not consistent with performance so I expect those questions. And I expect people like Nick (Riewoldt), who love the footy club, and people who are not as well-informed as we are, or as Peter Summers are, as to what is happening at the footy club to be asking a lot of questions and to be very frustrated. I understand that
On the Couch had a more rapid fire approach ot the situation at Moorabbin after host Gerard Healy opened the show with the opinion that ‘the Saints are in free fall’. He later suggested that they were arguably the most disappointing team in the competition.
Gary Lyon questioned whether there were any players in the group that could really grab a game by the scruff of the neck. After watching a replay of the interview with Alan Richardson on AFL360, Jonathon Brown expressed that the club was overestimating their list and that they had no A-Graders. He then ridiculed the club for, unsubstantiated, claims that they believed in the pre-season to have eight potential All-Australians on their list.
Somewhat surprisingly, Gary Lyon was the voice of reason in the conversation making the observation that the loss of Nick Riewoldt had been felt more harshly than the loss of any other player in recent times.
After three other programs examined the story in detail, it was no surprise that Footy Classified opened their show with the ‘crisis at St Kilda’. Like everyone other than Alan Richardson, the panel all interpreted the comments of Peter Summers as being worrying for the long term future of the coach. They were also in agreement that the President was guilty of over rating the list.
Caroline Wilson felt the club would find it difficult to sack the coach just months after extending him, given its financial plight and the AFL’s help in funding the move back to Moorabbin. Chris Judd suggested that genuine positive changes were possible in a Football Department without the Coach needing to be sacked.
The conversation then turned to the Saints poor skill level, with the team ranked 13th for kicking efficiency and 13th for points scored from turnovers. Caroline Wilson hinted to an article in The Age on Tuesday in which Simon Lethlean placed a lot of the blame at the lack of improvement from the players in the 50-100 game bracket. Matthew Lloyd, Footy Classified’s answer to Talking Footy’s Campbell Brown, suggested Jack Billings was the poster boy of this malaise. Without taking a breath he then told the group that he believed that Billings would be open to a move and if he was another club he would be doing all he could to entice him away from Moorabbin.