David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Where to now for the Warriors?

The more things change the more they stay the same.

That could be the brutal realisation for Warriors' management as they embark on a post-season review of yet another failed NRL campaign and weigh up whether to keep coach Andrew McFadden.

His future remains uncertain but out of the angst, fury, frustration and sense of hopelessness of a fifth-straight season of mediocrity, some acceptance and tolerance is emerging around the fact there may not be a better replacement available.

There is also some wider understanding that change for change sake doesn't always equal progress.

The club's recent track record has shown that with McFadden becoming the fourth coach in four years when he was appointed early in 2014.

The point has been reinforced repeatedly in recent days by players publically voicing their unwavering support of the man called "Cappy".

Whatever the outcome, club owner Eric Watson and managing director Jim Doyle will not be making a knee-jerk reaction.

The argument over whether to keep McFadden will hinge on the events of the last 26 weeks rather than the last three in which their finals fate was sealed.

For months now, the powers that be have been considering multiple coaching options and developing contingency plans in the event that a new direction needs to be taken.

But although this situation seems all too familiar, management are faced with vastly different circumstances to the previous regime that axed former coaches Brian McClennan and Matthew Elliott.

McClennan lost the support and belief of the players by the time he was sacked with three games remaining in 2012, while it's questionable Elliott ever had the trust and respect of those under him before he was shown the door early in 2014.

McFadden has always had the backing of the playing group and unlike his predecessors he has managed to improve the standards of professionalism in regards to training and match preparation.

As difficult as it might be to see, and their final ladder standing would indicate otherwise, but there have also been signs of improved performance over the past 12 months.

Consistency remains a glaring issue but there are numerous factors that have contributed to their fluctuating form relating to injuries to key players and lack of experience from others in their first or second full year of first grade.

McFadden will be granted some degree of tolerance around all of these circumstances but any leeway is balanced by the fact these problems are not confined to the Warriors and affect all NRL clubs.

But there are some issues that are unique to the Auckland-based outfit that continue to undermine the team's performances.

The pressure upon the one nation club seems to rise every year and even some of the Warriors best talent seem to struggle under the immense expectations and predictably swift condemnation following a round one defeat.

The Warriors already employ the help of leading sports psychologist and former All Whites captain Dr Ceri Evans but greater attention is required to improve their playing mindset.

Their traditional slow starts see them quickly and unfairly dismissed and the pressure continues to build each week after.

Players get so hung up on individual results that they forget the immediate tasks in front of them.

That fact was proven with the worrying admission from halfback Shaun Johnson in June that media scrutiny and criticism on social media was affecting him during games.

Players need only be concerned only with executing their individual jobs and the flow-on effect of doing so is the development of trust and confidence in both themselves and their teammates.

Unlike other comparable oval ball competitions, the NRL is so competitive that players or teams need only to be slightly off their game to get found out.

And while McFadden will ultimately be judged on the side's performance throughout a season that has so far earned just 10 wins from 23 games, it is cruel that the last three weeks have proven pivotal to how he, his team and the club are perceived.

If the Warriors had won two of their last three matches against the Rabbitohs, Cowboys and Tigers, and been right in the playoff mix leading into this weekend, this discussion would be a lot less emotive and reactionary.

Even if they had snuck into the top eight and been bundled out in the first week of the finals there would be some strength to the argument that things are getting better.

Management and fans would have been satisfied that a playoff drought was broken and young players had been exposed to finals football creating hope for more progress next season.

There should still be some optimism that the team can better perform in 2017 if Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke can all play a full season together.

Next year's squad will have a familiar look to it bar the prospect of Kieran Foran or any other quality signings being delivered and continuity in leadership could serve them well.

The Warriors face constant comparisons to successful clubs like Brisbane and Melbourne, two organisations who have built their reputations and success upon stable foundations in their coaching and playing roster.

In pleading McFadden's case to the media this week, Warriors captain and former Storm premiership winner Ryan Hoffman extolled the virtues of a stable environment.

"There's a lot to be said for that," Hoffman said.

"You've got to have the same consistent message.

"Everyone talks about Melbourne Storm's culture. Everyone talks about the strong culture of the Brisbane Broncos.

"That's because they've had the same message for a very long time."

Both Watson and Doyle respect McFadden and acknowledge the work he has done to improve the club's standards and culture although both remain works in progress.

But when the results do not follow they are now forced to examine whether enough is being done and if more could be achieved under another mentor.

And of all the contenders mentioned as possible replacements, those readily available with more experience or greater reputation are thin on the ground.

Those demanding change need to ask how much time they will grant the next coach or will they again cry foul in 18 months if the club's wretched run continues.

Patience has been shown in developing playing talents like Johnson, and relative rookies such as Tui Lolohea and David Fusitu'a.

The club could benefit similarly by nurturing McFadden through these early years and reap the rewards of experience and wisdom in years to come.

Otherwise they risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.

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