Coach has seven weeks to turn things around, or is it… Buck­ley’s chance

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

NATHAN Buck­ley’s stay of ex­e­cu­tion has been ex­tended un­til the end of the AFL sea­son with Colling­wood declar­ing it won’t de­cide on his coach­ing po­si­tion un­til then.

Mag­pies chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Pert yes­ter­day left the door open to the for­mer skip­per re­main­ing at the helm of the AFL heavy­weights in 2018 de­spite their ever- di­min­ish­ing win rate un­der his watch.

With Buck­ley by his side, Pert took the un­usual step of ad­dress­ing the play­ers and foot­ball de­part­ment to let them know them the coach was safe un­til af­ter round 23, so their per­for­mance could still in­flu­ence the even­tual out­come.

Buck­ley wasn’t given a guar­an­tee that seven vic­to­ries from the re­main­ing seven rounds would save his Colling­wood coach­ing ca­reer, with the club so far bank­ing just five wins to sit in 15th place.

But he hoped the back­ing of the Mag­pies board would take off some of the pres­sure on both him­self and his play­ers, who com­plained fol­low­ing their fourth suc­ces­sive loss on Satur­day that the spec­u­la­tion he would ei­ther walk away or be sacked im­mi­nently was prov­ing a dis­trac­tion.

“I’ve been told by the board that there’s no de­ci­sion un­til the end of the sea­son and the play­ers are aware of that and the footy pro­gram’s aware of that,” Buck­ley told the me­dia. “I sup­pose for what it’s worth it helps us main­tain our fo­cus week by week over the next sev­en­week pe­riod.”

De­spite his win­ning per­cent­age de­clin­ing in each year of his coach­ing to now sit as just 33 per cent, Buck­ley said he never con­sid­ered walk­ing away from the club be­fore the end of the sea­son.

“I knew where it sat but the fact that it’s been re­in­forced doesn’t hurt,” he said.

Colling­wood play­ers in­clud­ing skip­per Scott Pendle­bury have pub­licly sup­ported their coach, say­ing he de­serves an­other sea­son. Buck­ley, coach since 2012, said it was great to have that player sup­port but they had to de­liver on field.

He was adamant the team could still im­prove.

“Ab­so­lutely we can ( progress) and the next seven weeks will be looked af­ter by this week­end first and fore­most so that will be where we put all of our en­ergy,” Buck­ley said. “Per­for­mance is king and we need to back up our words, whether it’s play­ers, coaches or the club in gen­eral.”

The Mag­pies on Satur­day face strug­gling Gold Coast, whose coach Rod­ney Eade is also un­der siege.

Sim­ply tip the win­ning teams and you win the jackpot!

RE­PRIEVE: Mag­pies coach Nathan Buck­ley speaks to as­sis­tant coach Robert Har­vey.

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