Other than the actual game, there is nothing than fans love more than the off-field dramas. Last year, the football world witnessed the entire Melbourne saga, Brett Ratten’s premature departure from Carlton and the great tale of Kurt Tippett. Even now, supporters are being treated to the juicy rumours surrounding Essendon and the repercussions from the pathetic on-field efforts of Melbourne. There is a whole new drama about to erupt in the off-field world of football and that is the security of several senior coaches.
Whilst the entire football community is licking their lips at the prospect of Mark Neeld or Michael Voss losing their respective coaching positions if their sides underperform, there is a coach in a very similar case that is flying under the radar. This coach is none other than North Melbourne’s Brad Scott.
Scott was appointed as senior coach of North Melbourne near the end of the 2009 home and away season. Ever since he has taken charge, the Kangaroos have been far from impressive. With an already seasoned list, North Melbourne finished ninth in both 2010 and 2011. Despite those finishes, he was given a contract extension which surprised even the most optimistic. In 2012, North Melbourne were handed possibly the easiest fixture in the competition, which almost made it seem impossible to miss finals. Fortunately, they finished eighth.
Some could look at that and believe that it was a successful year, but in truth, eleven out of fourteen of their wins were against the bottom ten sides. Furthermore, Scott was absolutely shamed in front of a full Patersons Stadium crowd in his first finals appearance as a coach, when his team were belted by West Coast by 96 points. The lingering question after that game was whether North Melbourne had actually improved at all.
Their best players are in the twilight of their careers and surely if North Melbourne were to be challenging for glory at any time, it would have been these over these past few years and now. An absolutely flabbergasting decision had North Melbourne extend Scott’s contract to 2016 at the beginning of this year, marking the longest tenure of any current AFL coach.
It seems quite queer for such an underperforming coach to be given such a prestigious title. While the football world is not privy to the inner workings at Arden St, it doesn’t take a knowledgeable fan to realise that the contract extension is an extremely premature decision.
According to Champion Data, North Melbourne has been handed the toughest fixture in the competition in 2013. It is widely believed that this year will truly show us all where North Melbourne are truly placed in the wide scheme of things. No-one is calling for his head yet, but it is completely reasonable to say that if North Melbourne doesn’t show any improvement or even go backwards, questions will be asked regarding Scott’s future.
For the time being, things are already becoming slightly grim. Following an embarrassing three-goal loss to an extremely injury-strapped Collingwood in round one, North Melbourne suffered a close loss to Geelong, even after leading by 41 points late in the second quarter.
On a quick summary of Scott’s coaching career, we simply have three years of average performance and a poor start to 2013. Although he has a brand new three year contract, is he safe? Of course not. If the past is any indicator, contract duration means little when it comes to a coaches’ job security.
As soon as there are clear signs that a club is not improving, the first person that they will turn to will be the senior coach. If a Scott-led North Melbourne achieves finals in 2013, his job security is as safe as anyone in the AFL. However, if they fail due to no other reason besides simply not being good enough, the limelight will surely be shining on him.