Connolly backs Harvey as pressure mounts - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Connolly backs Harvey as pressure mounts

By Justin Chadwick 20/04/2009 07:48:18 PM Comments (0)

While ex-St Kilda coach Grant Thomas believes Mark Harvey was born to be nothing more than an assistant, Chris Connolly has backed his former right-hand man to lead the Dockers out of their current AFL misery.

Harvey, who took over the reins at Fremantle when Connolly fell on his sword late into the 2007 season, is contracted until the end of 2010 but is under increasing pressure following the Dockers' winless start to the year.

Fremantle's punt on youth may yield long-term benefits but it has left their current playing list vulnerable and devoid of confidence, with the club's four losses this season coming in ugly fashion.

Their 83-point capitulation to St Kilda last week was particularly worrying, with some critics describing it as one of the worst performances in the club's history.

But Connolly, who knows all too well the pressure associated with being top dog at Fremantle after his topsy-turvy six-year coaching stint there, believed Harvey was more than capable of leading the Dockers out of their current predicament.

"Obviously I had a great working relationship with Mark, he's more than a competent coach," Connolly told AAP.

"Mark was outstanding to work with.

"He's got strengths in every area.

"I know Fremantle have very clear plans for the year.

"They are more than capable to sort out any issues, they know exactly what they're doing.

"They're a strong club that's going through a reshaping and all the things that go with that."

Fremantle and Richmond remain the only clubs yet to post a win this year and the task doesn't get any easier for the Dockers, who are now second favourites behind Melbourne to claim this year's wooden spoon.

After facing Sydney at Subiaco Oval this week, the Dockers confront arch rivals West Coast before tough assignments against Carlton (away) and Hawthorn (home).

The Dockers' dismal start to the year seems to have already taken its toll on the player group, none more so than on last year's rising star winner Rhys Palmer, whose clanger count continues to mount.

Harvey, who served a lengthy apprenticeship under Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy before making the move west as a senior assistant, was appointed caretaker coach of Fremantle when Connolly quit 15 rounds into the '07 season.

The former Bomber landed the full-time job by leading the club to four wins in the final seven games of the season, but his overall record now stands at a paltry 10 wins from 33 games, a winning ratio of 30 per cent that doesn't look like improving this year.

Connolly, who is now football operations manager at the Demons, said patience was required when a club turned to youth.

Melbourne collected the wooden spoon last year after managing just three wins but have shown signs of improvement this season, with their win over Richmond catapulting them off the bottom of the table for the first time in coach Dean Bailey's short reign.

"We (Melbourne) bottomed out as a club last year on and off the field for the first time in 150 years so there's great challenges on field and off field," Connolly said.

"I think there's good perspective with where we're at and where we're heading.

"I think the plan is clear and we just keep sticking to it and keep moving forward."

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