The groundswell movement by Bulldogs fans calling for big changes at their club has now grown into a full force cyclone and it is directed firmly at Belmore.
I’m someone who believes coaches attract far too much blame for poor results. Under performing players far too often use coaches as scapegoats, instead of taking a look at themselves and digging in.
Andrew McFadden was ousted and blamed for the horrible run of results that saw the Warriors under performing yet again in 2016, while his replacement former Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney has failed to bring forth any improvement, despite the addition of Kieran Foran to the club’s roster.
Mick Potter copped no end of grief for the Tigers poor form in years gone by, yet they’re currently caught up in a scrap to avoid the wooden spoon, with their biggest three names jumping ship, or “off the bus” as has become the tag line in the media.
Are either McFadden or Potter to blame? Partly I’d say, but to place full blame on them when their successors have arguably gone backwards helps illustrate my point: Coaches cop it harshly and often.
That being said, this weekend’s team sheet posted by Des Hasler and the Bulldogs has me officially, and firmly, in the ‘Des Out’ camp.
I’m no Dogs fan, and I’m happy that they won’t be involved in finals. They’ve done plenty of damage to my club side in the past, and no tears will be shed here following their horror 2017 season, but as a fan, it’s hugely disappointing to see what the Dogs have become.
There is no side I go to greater lengths to avoid watching play as, to be frank, their 2017 ‘attack’ has been dour. The likes of the Morris twins, Josh Reynolds and co. have been absolutely blunted and no longer carve up defences in year’s gone by.
Moses Mbye has been transformed from an excitement machine out wide, to someone who is instructed to take a tackle on the fifth rather than risk giving away a seventh tackle set. He has been shifted into the number nine role after Michael Lichaa’s stunning fall from grace. Dogs fans seem to be united in laying blame on their coach after Lichaa’s running and kicking game, that made him a future star at the Sharks in reserve grade, seem to have ceased to exist.
There will be the odd Dogs fan who wants to stick up for their club and claim attacking brilliance, but the stats do not lie. 264 points scored in 20 games is eye gouging. The hapless Knights have scored 341 points. The Tigers, the competition’s second worst attacking side, has scored 323 points.
Granted, the Bulldogs defence has been worlds ahead of the likes of the Tigers and Knights, but you can’t win games without scoring points.
Des Hasler’s amazing fix? Chase Stanley!?
I am a bigger fan of Stanley than most, especially considering the grief he has been through after a terrible time with injuries, but his best football is played at centre.
Stanley has been among the Dog’s best over the past few weeks but is not a creative half.
Josh Reynolds is a running half, not a creative ball player. Who takes the reigns and guides their side around in this partnership?
Let’s not forget this is the very combination that put on a total of four points last Thursday against the Eels.
Meanwhile Josh Cleeland, the attacking wizard behind the Ipswich Jets amazing run in 2015, sits with his feet up, yet again.
Cleeland has been an attacking force in NSW Cup and has scored bags of tries across the past few weeks. Obviously, the jump in class is an issue, but the Dogs season is done, why not take a risk?
Dogs fans are quite rightly asking what Cleeland has to do to get a start when those in front of him are struggling to create point scoring opportunities. I have no answer for them.
It seems as though Des is happy to ride out the rest of dire-2017 and wait for Woods and Foran to arrive.
If not, why would he not inject the club’s most attacking option, but instead opt for an out of position centre in what is pretty much a dead rubber?
Urgh. Des out!