Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"King" Arthur Returns to Seek Eels' Holy Grail

Parramatta have today finally decided on a coach to replace the departure of the fallen idol with the feet of clay Ricky Stuart. But, in a way that only Parramatta can supply, they managed to completely stuff up the process once again, and create a media clown show for all to see.

Having interviewed a number of candidates (though not the candidacy of Eels legends Ray Price and Brett Kenny who mooted interest in the position), the board's vote was split as to which former fill-in coach of the Eels, Jason Taylor and Brad Arthur, should get the gig as a full time coach. Then, apparently at the last minute, Jason Taylor withdrew his candidacy when he could not be guaranteed everything that he felt he needed in order to do the job. Thus, it was Brad Arthur, who had the reigns for the final six matches of the 2012 season after Stephen Kearney was sacked and before Ricky Stuart was appointed, who had been named as the coach for the next three seasons. If he gets that far, he will be the first Parramatta coach since Brian Smith to last longer than two seasons.

So what does that leave ahead for Parramatta fans? Following the Miracle of 2009 the Eels could not produce a similar finish in 2010 and missed the finals, and have since finished 15th, 16th and 16th. The fans proclaimed the arrival of Stuart, and supported his blunt appraisal that things would get worse before they got better, but he promised a revival. He told up to 17 players halfway through the season that they were surplus to requirement for 2014, by posting their names on the wall in front of all their teammates, but the fans supported him. Through it all, the fans took on Stuart's philosophy, wearing the jibes of all other Club's supporters in the belief of a better future. And then the man who put it all into place decided it was too hard, and jumped on the first available ship to Canberra.

In Brad Arthur the Eels have a man who is popular amongst those that have survived the 12 months since he moved to Manly to become an assistant. They have some new blood coming in who will hopefully add starch to the defense and bite to the attack. No doubt the fans will, once again, be asked to be patient, and allow the new coach to settle in and put his stamp on the playing group. That's all and good, but since Brian Smith was sacked in 2006, they have had Jason Taylor for a few games, before similar comments and guarantees were offered by Michael Hagan (2007-08), Daniel Anderson (2009-10) and Stephen Kearney (2011-12).
To be honest, the player recruitment and retention at Parramatta has been disgraceful for over a decade, and perhaps this is the first place Arthur should start to clean out the place. They need to keep their good kids, find some experience to put around them, and stick with them for a couple of seasons and let them find their feet. Only then can the Eels begin their slow crawl from the basement to once again be a challenger for a finals position.

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