Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Midweek Fixture: McFadden - Right man in the wrong job

By Dylan Cleaver

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden.

Knowing when to hold 'em or fold 'em is one of the great conundrums for the CEO and board of any struggling sporting organisation, but there is one team that is going to have to show their hand soon and one that might have waited too long.

If indications from the dreaded "sources close to the camp" are to be believed, beleaguered Warriors coach Andrew McFadden will be given until the end of the season to turn things around. Just what that entails is unclear, with the report stating it means either making the playoffs or showing improvement. Which could mean anything, really.

We have now reached a point where Warriors' collapses are expected. The veterans look tired and off the pace, the newbies don't look up to it and the guys who are meant to be the sparkplugs at hooker, halfback and fullback are either hopelessly out of form or injured.

It might not be a trainwreck yet but the signalman has sent this Penrose-bound train down a track towards oblivion.

If there is a better coach out there than McFadden and he is available, Warriors CEO Jim Doyle and owner Eric Watson would be doing the club and its dwindling fans a disservice by locking themselves into some end-of-season pact.

That's when things can get messy.

Look at Manchester United, who had known for months that they didn't much like the cut of manager Louis van Gaal's jib, were clearly in talks with manager-elect Jose Mourinho behind his back, then had the 'misfortune' to watch the overbearing Dutchman take the club to FA Cup glory. As Daniel Taylor writes in the piece highlighted in the 'I'm Reading' section, the champagne wasn't dry on van Gaal's suit when reporters were basically telling him he was to be replaced by Mourinho.

Awkward.

McFadden knows the drill. Former Houston Oilers' coach Bum Phillips' oft-quoted quip, "There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired", rings as true today as it did when he christened it.

The Warriors coach has already conceded his messages are not getting through. This is a serious admission. The defence is woeful and the culture is clearly broken when players, including veterans, decide the appropriate response to a 0-42 drubbing is to pop a few Stilnox and hit the town.

The coach can hardly be blamed for all of it but increasingly McFadden looks like the right man in the wrong job. Giving him to the end of the season might be counter-productive. Rather than seeking a quick upturn in results, the club should be concentrating on 2017, getting NRL miles into the legs of those they think can help them win a title in the years to come and shedding those that can't.

Sad, but true. Time to fold.

The New Zealand, sorry All Black, sevens are another matter. Whereas McFadden has little pedigree to fall back on, Tietjens has amassed the sort of record that convinced New Zealand Rugby to grant him what seems like a sinecure.

That 14-42 loss to the USA in the quarterfinals was as baffling as it was comprehensive. The USA were better in every facet and New Zealand looked like they, gulp, gave up.

Their defence was so poor that Kurt Baker could have dressed himself as a turnstile, stood still and would still have been more effective.

Call it bad luck or timing, but nearly every time I've sat down to watch Tietjens' team this year, they've lost, whether it be to Fiji, South Africa or, on one bemusing occasion, France.

From a distance, it has to be said that this looks like a fairly half-arsed Olympic campaign. Is it important to New Zealand Rugby or not? In a year when the fifteens showpiece is a pulse-slowing inbound tour from Wales, NZR might live to regret not being more dogmatic about giving Tietjens priority over players.

Might they even live to regret not changing coaches. In those losses, New Zealand seem to be playing a different game to opponents like Fiji - less dynamic, more prosaic.

Have the New Zealand Sevens (still can't bring myself to say All Black) been left behind or does Tietjens have a masterplan?

NZR has no choice now but to hold 'em and find out.

SPORTS SHAREMARKET

I'm buying... an EnZed netball league

The old National Bank Cup was way more interesting than the transtasman league ever was. It was also NZ's one competitive advantage over Australia. What Netball NZ needs to do now is to cosy up to broadcasting partner Sky and their key sponsors to cobble together a pool of money from which each of the six franchises can buy a marquee player from overseas. At least three of those franchises should aggressively chase the best players in Australia. That would do two things: remind Netball Australia where the sport's financial clout lies, and force them to pay more than they want to retain their best athletes.

I'm selling... James McOnie impersonators

Don't go to a hell of a lot of press conferences these days but every time I do there seems to be some unwritten rule that someone has to play for a laugh-track. Last week at the admittedly weird Parker-Takam media scrum at Burger King, it was Guy Williams. Given the surroundings it was excusable but here's the thing that makes McOnie so much better than his pretenders: even when he's taking the pith, it doesn't hide his deep respect for the athletes he's sending up or the industry he is mocking.

I'M READING ...

A good, in-depth look at the failings of Louis van Gaal. Perhaps unintentionally, it also highlights the entitlement complex of well-paid, modern-day athletes.

MY LAST $10

Time pressure forced my hand into a high-risk, medium-reward single bet last week. It won.

Last week: The Crusaders to win by between 11-20 points against the Waratahs at $3.25. The wet weather helped. If it had been a little drier, I suspect this would have been a blow out.

This week: A crazy hunch tells me that the Chiefs have an element of smoke and mirrors about them and that's about to be exposed in Sydney. Meanwhile, the Blues would have received the almightiest of rark-ups after a mind-blowing loss to the Lions and a ordinary win over the Force. They might just get within 12 points of the Crusaders. Tahs head-to-head and Crusaders 12 and under should return $58.50.

Total spent: $150 Total collected: $169.35

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