Support, but no guarantee for Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Support, but no guarantee for Knights

By Sam Lienert and Robert Grant 13/07/2010 07:14:20 PM Comments (0)

Essendon chairman David Evans has called on supporters to rally behind embattled coach Matthew Knights, but stopped short of guaranteeing he will see out his contract.

A defiant Knights has rejected the notion the AFL club is under siege after five straight losses, including dismal performances in the past two rounds.

He described the Bombers' program as "moving forward nicely" and said he was more confident than ever in his "vision" for the club.

Evans said the Essendon board remained supportive of their coach, who they last year gave a contract extension until the end of 2012.

He said that decision was based on the fact the club was operating according to a five-year plan, starting from 2008, and wanted the coaching contract to line up.

But asked if he wanted to send the message to supporters that Knights would serve out his term, Evans was guarded.

"The focus for Essendon footy club is to make sure right now that we continue to go hard for these (seven rounds) that are remaining and at the end of the year we review, like we do every year," Evans told SEN radio.

"Right now we're very focussed on ensuring we continue to develop our list and get the list to continue to improve and that's my message to the supporters."

That comment will do nothing to quell a groundswell of supporter dissatisfaction with the coach who helped the club scrape into finals last season.

But Evans felt Knights did not warrant the criticism he was copping, despite disappointing recent performances.

"He's getting it from all angles and I think unjustly," Evans said.

"I understand that the supporters are unhappy with what our on-field performances look like in the past four or five weeks, they haven't been good.

"Our supporters, and I count myself as a supporter and someone who looks for performance and is impatient for performance, we just have to stay the course."

Evans said the team that lost to Melbourne on Sunday was mostly young and missing players through injury.

"Mid-season in the middle of winter when you start getting injuries to a young list you are going to get inconsistent form and that's what we've seen," he said.

But he remained confident they had a playing list capable of delivering future success and could use the rest of the season to build momentum.

"We should be absolutely focussed as Essendon supporters on not eating our own, but getting in behind (Knights), getting behind the players and ensuring we have a very good finish to the year."

Knights said the 5-10 win-loss record and form downturn had not dulled his optimism or love of the job.

"We're going to stay aggressive on that vision and keep building this football club and building this team - and it's a joy to do it," he told reporters.

"I'm as confident now as I was 12 months ago, probably even more from what I'm seeing from our younger generation coming through."

He said while it was a "bumpy" ride, he expected to eventually look back fondly on this period of his career.

Both he and Evans pointed to the past two premiers Hawthorn and Geelong as clubs that overcame similar periods of extreme pressure, but stuck with their coaches to experience the ultimate success.

"I absorb the pressure, I welcome it, I go about business," Knights said.

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