Counter-punch: old man Sheedy a disaster for Sydney
Appointing Kevin Sheedy as coach of the AFL’s new Western Sydney team is a terrible idea.
For one simple reason: The game has left the once-great coach behind.
It’s the equivalent of making Bill Collins the face of iTunes.
Other people – including my colleague Penbo – will argue that his marketing clout makes him the perfect choice.
It’s true - Sheedy is a great salesman. So, appoint him ambassador, president, mascot or official door greeter. Give him an 1980s-sized expense account and let him loose in Sydney … no doubt he’ll have an impact.
But, is he still capable of creating a winning culture in today’s AFL? We know only one thing drives interest and attendance in the Harbour City: wins.
If you’re an also-ran team in Sydney, the fans will spend their entertainment budget elsewhere. You know, on blonde tips and dance music, or whatever it is people spend their money on up there.
Having Sheedy at the club will not deliver on-field success. In fact it may do the opposite.
By the time Essendon pushed him out the door in 2007, he was living on past glories.
With just 11 combined wins over his last two seasons, and a winning percentage of around 25% for that time, he was no longer an elite, trendsetting coach.
Sheedy supporters will say that no one expects the team to win a lot of games early, and his ability to develop young players is just as important.
Well, I’d argue Sheedy is about as good at developing young talent as Channel 9. His drafting decisions in his last years at Essendon (Mal Michael, Scott Camporeale, Ty Zantuck (!?) were the footballing equivalent of getting Bert to host 20-1 – geared towards treading water rather than winning premierships.
From the last four drafts of his tenure, Sheedy unearthed two quality players (Paddy Ryder and Alwyn Davey, with perhaps Kyle Reimers in the discussion), leaving behind a team dependent on a few veterans.
In the two seasons since Sheedy’s departure, new Bombers coach Matthew Knights has been forced into a dramatic cleanout as he attempts to reinvigorate the list.
Knights is a prime example of the new trend in AFL coaching circles. Clubs appoint young, driven coaches who spend countless hours poring over video and stats.
That was never Sheedy’s strong suit, and the rumours coming out of his final years at Windy Hill do not paint a picture of a man with a great attention to detail.
Sheedy’s strength has always been his ability to see beyond accepted truths, but because of that he’s much more interested in the big picture than the minutiae.
The AFL’s blueprint for the club’s success is based on drafting young players. If the club doesn’t develop that talent, it will be a disaster.
If his tenure at GWS (btw, what kind of name is that for a club? It sounds like a discount liquor chain) does little more than give Brand Sheedy another three years in the sun on the AFL’s dime, it will take years to recover. And the AFL doesn’t have that sort of time.
Maybe with the right support staff, he can be the club’s figurehead and leave the coaching nuts and bolts to the next generation.
But the AFL is gambling an awful lot of money on a “maybe”.
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