Sunday, 7 May 2017

Collingwood and Nathan Buckley - My Defence of Both

Let me be very clear, I support the Melbourne Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL)

Further, I am from an era where you learn from an early age, you either support Collingwood or you support the team playing against Collingwood.

And being a Melbourne supporter, this dislike of Collingwood runs deeply, being born from a long, long rivalry as a result of very many Grand Finals between the two clubs.

I was at the 1970 Grand Final and even though my club wasn’t involved, witnessing Collingwood lose after having a seemingly un-beatable half time lead was pure joy. Of almost equal enjoyment was the loss they suffered in the 1979 Grand Final and that goal scored after the ball had crossed (allegedly) the boundary line.

I enjoy Collingwood losing.

Secondly, I do not particularly like Nathan Buckley. I absolutely acknowledge his brilliance as a player. He played hard and fair. Was quick, agile, a good mark, good on the ground and his kicking and hand skills of both sides of his body was as good as it gets

My dislike of him is more to do with his off filed comments when drafted by Brisbane. He seemed to believe he was too good to be playing outside of Melbourne for one of the then smaller clubs. After much speculation, he did play the first season of his career with Brisbane, and from memory, won their best and fairest. The reality is, he was always going to Collingwood.

The fact therefore I am about to defend Collingwood may surprise those who have read this far.

Nathan Buckley is under pressure to retain his role as Collingwood Head Coach. It’s true, finals success has not come under Buckley. His game plan is under scrutiny, as are recent recruitment decisions.

However, the usual dialogue leading up to the sacking of a Coach is that they ‘have lost the players’ and the ‘players are not playing for the coach’.

I am seeing players with skill sets that do not hold up consistently and who kick for goal poorly, consistently.

I am also seeing a playing group that are giving an enormous effort, running hard on and off the ball and competing intensely in each contest. This is the complete opposite of when a coach loses the players or are not playing for the coach. It is the effort and intensity of competition that falls away and this is simply not the case.

Nathan Buckley has an exceptionally high Football Intellect. He is surrounded by a quality group of Assistant Coaches. He will have in place a well thought through and an appropriate, modern game plan. The Coaching team will be coaching to this too

Buckley has a group of players giving their all, and doing so overtly, week in week out.

What he doesn’t have is a group of players with either the skills necessary, or the ability to execute skills under pressure in order to deliver the game plan needed for success – yet.

Get off Nathan Buckley’s back. He can Coach.

Mark Thompson and Alastair Clarkson were in very similar situations at Geelong and Hawthorn respectively and when it could have gone either way, their club re-signed them and supported them totally. Both went on to win multiple Premierships.

Collingwood, do the same and re-sign Nathan Buckley for 2, even 3 years.

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