Voss’s losses are proof there are better bosses
If you thought one win against the lowly Kangaroos was enough to keep the wolves from the door, think again.
Michael Voss, the Brisbane Lions favourite and most decorated son has found himself standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down and wondering when he’s going to feel the hand of power pushing him in the back.
In this, his third year at the helm, he stands accused of systematically bringing the football club he served with such distinction as a player and captain to its knees with some of the most arrogant and ill informed decision making we have seen from an AFL senior coach.
I use the word ‘coach’ loosely. Since taking over at the start of 2009, the decline in stature of the once mighty Lions has been little short of remarkable. Given his time over again, I doubt whether he could have orchestrated such a decline had he tried.
Voss had massive shoes to fill. Shoes that don’t get any bigger than the ones occupied by AFL legend and four time Premiership coach, Leigh Matthews. It was always going to be a tough gig. Just ask Matthew Knights.
It was a huge risk for the Lions despite the fact Voss had a multitude of credits in the bank due to his wonderful playing career. After all, when Voss announced he would be a senior coach, the last thing Brisbane wanted was for him to go elsewhere and flourish. The Lions pounced and their favourite son was announced as successor to Matthews. This, of course went against the better judgement of the entire football community.
Why was it that a coaching apprenticeship was paramount for all would be coaches except Voss? Does being a three time Premiership skipper give you an arm chair ride into coaching, bypassing the sensible route most others take?
In his first year the Lions played finals. They defeated Carlton by 7 points in week one but lost to a rampant Western Bulldogs the following week by 51 points. All was rosy in the Lions den, Voss in his first year took an established side with a handful of hungry youngsters to week 2 of a finals campaign. The doubters had been silenced and it appeared that Voss had been underestimated in his ability to step into a new profession and become an instant success.
Unfortunately, that was the beginning of a very public decline. Injuries aside, Voss took it upon himself to break almost every coaching rule there is. With his very healthy ego in tow, he began drafting mature age rejects and trying to run every department within the footy club. Perhaps a phone call to Grant Thomas might have been a good idea at the time.
The drafting of several high profile yet rejected players from other clubs, including bad boy Brendan Fevola, was going to be the masterstroke that in Vossy’s mind, would deliver a Brisbane flag in only his second year and elevate him to legend status in Queensland.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as that in today’s footy. To make way for players of the likes of Fev, Brent Staker, Amon Buchanan, Matt Maguire, Xavier Clarke and Andrew Raines were a handful of kids that took the club to the finals the previous year. It was arrogant and downright wrong. The fact the club allowed it is staggering.
Can you imagine Jeff Kennett allowing such ineptitude at his beloved Hawks?
Brisbane have rapidly made their way to the bottom of the ladder with only one win from nine starts. The question is how long are they going to put up with it? Surely, the board at the Lions aren’t going to continue to allow Voss to run the club further into the ground simply because he was a great footballer.
I’m not saying he should be sacked, in fact far from it. But surely, as a matter of course, the club must finally admit publicly that the Voss experiment thus far has been a dismal and expensive failure.
The big coup was the lifeline thrown to Carlton discard and gambling addict, Brendan Fevola. One can only imagine the back slapping that went on at the Gabba the day Fev was drafted. Yet only 17 games of service later, Fev was sacked and with it came a bill for around $1M. The Lions wrote it off as an error in judgment. That’s one expensive error.
So where to from here?
Changes simply must be made. The only way forward is with youth. It seems, for Voss the penny has finally dropped but even blind Freddy can see the changes that are now occurring have not been forced but are simply through circumstance. Injuries to key players have forced his hand and into the side comes the hunger only kids can bring. God knows, the club wasn’t going to make the ruling.
Voss had a playing career with credentials most players can only dream of. However, with all the changes our great game has seen since the first footy was kicked in anger some 150 years ago, one thing remains the same.
Great players don’t necessarily make great coaches.
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