AFL 3 years ago

Is John Worsfold the Man?

  • Is John Worsfold the Man?

There have been plenty of stories about Essendon pursuing the former Premiership coach. Has he been offered a deal? Will it be for a half a decade, an eternity in contractual terms? All this speculation and supposed speedy decision-making, if at all true, would echo the actions of the past.

The haste in hiring a name coach. The impulsive nature of appointing quickly, to avoid missing out. There were similar decisions made in the past and while it showed glimmers of success, it only led to expensive write-offs in the end.

While the romance of a successful coach taking the helm at Essendon is attractive, a longer term view is necessary to revive the Club. 

The statistics on Worsfold are actually fairly topsy turvy. Yes, he was a Premiership coach but was also a wooden spooner four years after taking the team to the top. In twelve years of coaching, his teams played in finals in eight. In the years that the team missed, the team was in the bottom third.

When Worsfold inherited the team, he was blessed with a midfield combination that would grow together. In 2002, Dean Cox, Chris Judd and Daniel Kerr were in their second senior season. Ben Cousins added spark to the trio, playing in his sixth. By 2005, this group was in the Grand Final and won the next year.

If Worsfold, or any other coach, were to take over at Essendon in 2016, the midfield stocks wouldn’t be as golden. The final years of Watson will be strong, if a little injury prone. Heppell and Zach Merrett will be quality for years while Laverde and Langford have shown enough to be in the firsts in 2016.

The main gap remains the ruck and a midfield that’s a little single-paced. The forward line could also use a boost in potency despite some of the late season positives from Hooker, Edwards and McKenna.

Worsfold had shown that in his final years, he could revive a team given a boost in player quality. By 2011, after he had lost Judd and the powers of Kerr and Cox were waning, the Eagles bounced to fourth, a year after claiming the wooden spoon.

With a top four pick in this year’s draft and a number of compensation picks to come for the loss of Carlisle and probably Melksham, that influx of talent isn’t too far away. Worsfold has shown that he can shape a winning team given the right personnel. Maybe he can make something of a side in bad need of rebuilding.  

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