Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire (Image: NRL.com)

A top-eight finish!

Year after year, coach after coach, Tigers fans have frustratingly watched on as their team just fell short of a top-eight finish.

Players have left come back and left again and still no finals. Smart coaches, New generation coaches, old school coaches, coaches with great people skills, hard edged coaches and not one has cracked the code.

Michael Maguire holds the reigns. In his tenure the Tigers have finished 9th and 11th. A premiership-winning coach with South Sydney Maguire brings his hard edge tough love approach.

Rumblings of player unrest resulted in a clean out at the end of the season. Those not on board have been moved on or told to look elsewhere. Fan favourite Benji Marshall wasn’t offered a contract for 2021 despite leading the Tigers in try assist for 2020.

Further movement is underway - the Tigers' best performed forward in 2020 John Aloiai  has asked for an immediate release to join rivals the Sea Eagles. This echoes the surprise request by 2019 top forward Ryan Matterson who eventually moved to the Eels.

The Tigers seem to be an unsettled club. Maguire demands his team to play within a fairly straight forward game plan with discipline.

Yet the two biggest signings in his time as coach have been Joey Leilua from Canberra for 2020 and James Roberts from South Sydney for 2021.

Both players can be game breakers at times but their discipline on and off the field is very questionable. Maguire has been restricted in his ability to recruit by salary cap issues and a squad he inherited but his choices have been perplexing.

While most teams have a settled spine coming into 2021, the Tigers seem to be figuring out who will play in the crucial roles.

With Marshall gone, hooker Harry Grant returning to Melbourne after his loan ended and Luke Brooks losing his half back spot by season's end, Maguire has some selection issues.

So far no players have been recruited to fill these positions. Therefore the spine will be made up of players within the squad. Jacob Liddle, Billy Walters and rookie Jake Simpkin look the most likely candidates for the dummy half role vacated by Grant.

Brooks, Walters, Josh Reynolds, Moses Mbye and perhaps Adam Doueihi fighting out the halves starting spots. At fullback Doueihi, Mbye or potentially David Nofoaluma.

The loss of Aloiai will be a felt. Having already lost Matt Eisenhuth to Penrith, Sam McIntyre to the Titans, Chris Lawrence to retirement and Oliver Clark released, the Tigers have only signed Jason Tamou from the Panthers as a noted replacement.

Tamou will be a good addition. His leadership will fill the void of Marshall and Lawrence. However, Tamou will be 32 at seasons start a veteran of 267 NRL games.

On the bright side, the Tigers do have some good young talent. Hooker Jake Simpkin, new signing Stefano Utoikamanu - a prop from Parramatta - young outside backs Tommy Talau and Reece Hofmann.

Maguire will need to squeeze every ounce of talent out of his squad in 2021 otherwise its looking like another year without success for the Tigers.

The Tigers definitely need a clean out of playing staff. As they struggle to attract top talent they also need to look at their off field management and recruitment team.

They either buy their way back to competitiveness or they invest heavily in their junior development. What ever they do they must start today. As whatever they are doing is not working.

Will it be another sad year for Tigers fans in 2021?