The coaching merry-go-round is set to go into overdrive for the reminder of the season with Brad Scott’s shock mid-season departure from North Melbourne setting the wheels into motion.
No clubs changed coaches in 2018 for the first time in more than a decade. This was partly due to Richmond’s decision to back coach Damien Hardwick turning to premiership gold. Nathan Buckley and Collingwood were oh-so-close to replicating the move last year. However, footy trends come and go in waves, so the landscape is now preparing itself for a striking overcorrection.
Brad Scott put his future on the agenda to North Melbourne board members five weeks ago, meaning the Kangaroos have had time to consider potential replacements. Three ex-Kangaroos are at the top of their list, including Sydney premiership coach John Longmire, who remains contracted to Sydney until the end of 2020.
The Swans have been looking in recent weeks to extend Longmire’s contract, being aware of the Kangaroos’ interest in poaching their longest-serving coach. It is understood that Sydney would seek to block Longmire from departing the club for North while under contract. The Swans remain confident that Longmire will see out his contract, however, Longmire did not rule it out when he addressed the speculation on Monday.
Another premiership coach and ex-Kangaroo, Adam Simpson did publicly rule himself out for the job. Four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, another legendary coach whose origins can be traced to Arden Street is also on North’s wish list. But whether the mastermind coach can be coerced out from Hawthorn’s clutches is another matter.
Clarkson is contracted with the Hawks until 2022, and has previously stated that he would not coach another team. While Hawthorn denies this, there is an understanding within the club that assistant coach Sam Mitchell will take over the reins when Clarkson’s current contract expires.
But the position at North Melbourne will not be the only senior coaching role up for grabs. Carlton have already began canvassing potential replacements for Brendon Bolton, who is out of contract at season’s end and clearly up against it. Departed Kangaroos coach Brad Scott is reportedly Carlton’s first-choice candidate to replace the under-fire Brendon Bolton.
However, whether Scott wants the role is another story considering he said he wishes to spend next year playing more golf and barracking for the Kangaroos at his farewell media conference. Although, he would not be the first coach to return to the fray after denials. Regardless, he will be highly sought after amongst multiple clubs, not just Carlton.
The coaching merry-go-round does not stop before reaching Moorabbin, where St Kilda coach Alan Richardson’s contract expires at the end of 2019. A trigger clause for 2020 is only met if the Saints claim a finals victory - something that is very much an unlikely prospect at this stage. St Kilda would not be able to reconcile six seasons in charge without a finals qualification with a contract extension. Indeed, there is a possibility that Brad Scott could take the reigns at St Kilda next year.
Currently, Carlton is perceived in the industry as the more desirable job due to the potential of the young list and the size of the club. In fact, rival coaches currently at other clubs may even be tempted to throw their hat in the ring.
North Melbourne, Carlton and St Kilda could all be on the coaching hunt, but a fourth club may well join what would be a very hotly contested race. John Worsfold is no certainly to last the year at Essendon, notwithstanding his contract for 2020. The twelfth placed Bombers are facing the third of four seasons outside of the finals under Worsfold’s guidance. His first year in charge was saddled with drug bans to twelve of his players. An inevitable wooden spoon resulted.
But despite being highly regarded with how he managed the crippling effects of the supplements saga, Worsfold is now being internally questioned at Essendon. The game plan and perceived player confusion earlier in the season have been particular points of scrutinisation against Worsfold, a former premiership coach at West Coast.
North Melbourne have been the first club to make the leap onto the coaching merry-go-round, despite getting a bit of a push from the coach himself. However, some others, are well and truly sizing up the market place – even though someone’s still in the chair.
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