AFL coaching is a cut-throat business - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL coaching is a cut-throat business

Roger Vaughan 16/09/2011 10:42:06 PM Comments (0)

How appropriate that Hawthorn and Sydney were playing a cut-throat AFL semi-final on Friday night at the MCG.

The last 24 hours have emphasised how high the stakes have become in the league.

The night before, Fremantle's coaching coup had rocked the game.

First the Dockers sacked Mark Harvey without warning and within hours, Ross Lyon was on a flight across the country to take over the role.

Lyon had also stunned St Kilda, and his own management company, in announcing his resignation from the Saints.

Harvey and Lyon had a year left on their contracts.

Predictably, much of the pre-game buildup on the radio stations at the MCG, and then the half-time television coverage, focussed on Fremantle's ruthless change of coaches.

The television footage of Lyon's media conference in Perth was compelling vision - the media pack as provoking as the new Dockers coach was implacable.

As one rival club observed during trade period last year, Lyon can appear to have ice water coursing through his veins.

More big news came pre-match, with reports that Melbourne had signed Collingwood assistant Mark Neeld as their new senior coach.

That news came three days after some were convinced that Lyon was on the verge of signing with the Demons.

But the speculation was only half-right - Lyon was going to another club, just not where anyone expected.

Another AFL Lyon - media commentator and temporary Demons football director Garry - walked into the MCG wearing a big grin.

Asked if the Demons had indeed signed their new coach, Lyon dead-panned "Mick Malthouse".

But Lyon admitted an announcement would come on Saturday.

As former Melbourne coach Dean Bailey helped call the game in one radio box, Neeld was a conspicuous absentee from another.

Neeld had called K-Rock late in the afternoon to say he could not be at the game.

No-one was in any doubt about the reason for his sudden absence.

Bailey looked relaxed, some stubble on his face, the acute pressure of AFL coaching now a few weeks removed from his life.

On Saturday, Neeld starts his senior coaching career.

He's a smart man and will go in with his eyes wide open.

Events of the last 24 hours have also ensured he knows the potential extremes of what is to come.

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