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Finals success not about me: Crows coach

By Daniel Brettig 03/09/2009 03:54:45 PM Comments (0)

Neil Craig insists Adelaide's performance in this year's AFL finals series is not about him.

It is not about his 2-5 record in finals, his handful of questionable coaching decisions or non-decisions at key times in Septembers past, or the notion that previous Crows sides were too inflexible under his direction to adapt to the chaos of the season's final month.

Instead he leaves the focus on the players he coaches at Adelaide, saying September 2009 is all about what they want to achieve together.

"It's not about me, it's not about me as a coach," Craig said on Thursday ahead of Friday night elimination final against Essendon.

"I'll be assessed, as I've been assessed throughout the year and will continue to be assessed by management, and the playing group.

"I don't deliver the product. This is more about the playing group, what they want to achieve."

But the lingering truth remains that Craig's outstanding record as a mentor to his Crows will continue to have one significant hole in it until he can coach the side to finals success.

Craig is well aware of the record, and of the whispers that still follow his side, irrespective of the ominous form they are in.

An undermanned Essendon have no reason to expect a victory against Adelaide on Friday night, other than the fact that on several occasions the Crows have lost finals to teams they expected to beat.

"I don't think our performance last year was the maximum we could have given, in the elimination final against Collingwood," Craig said.

"I don't think the game against Hawthorn the year before was at a level that we would have wanted as a football club, and that's my responsibility to do that.

"So that's one way of assessing me, absolutely.

"In 2006 against West Coast out here, they were too good for us. Too good. Our guys gave everything they possibly could and they were just too good.

"If that's a reflection on me as coach, I have to accept they were too good."

Aware of where his sides have fallen down in the past, Craig has built a 2009 team with far greater attacking power, considerable flair and formidable balance.

He acknowledges the onus is on him to extract the maximum from that combination this year.

"My biggest responsibility is too try to get the maximum out of this playing group, with all the different skill sets and experience and injuries that they have," he said.

"If that translates to success, fantastic.

"If it's not quite good enough, the assessment needs to be have we maximised what we have.

"I'm not sitting here saying unless we have some finals success I'm going to go and slit the wrists and that sort of thing."

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