So now it’s the Foxx.
For any lifetime Bulldog fan under 45, you would be hoping that the first long term period of failure in our adult years is almost over.
Nick Cotric, Kyle Flanagan and Matt Burton signed on top of Jack Hetherington and Corey Waddell joining Josh Jackson’s pups. Jake Averillo, Lachlan Lewis, Nick Meany, Jeremy Marshall-King, Jayden Okunbor and the like means 2021/2022 offers great promise. At least we’re hoping for a fight for the eight in 2021 and more the following year.
Whether or not Burton and Flanagan will be the answer, Trent Barrett has a lot more to work with than prior caretaker Steve Georgallis and his ever grim-faced predecessor Dean Pay. The question then is whether or not those two were thrown under the bus with their understrength squads, especially given Pay getting well above the wooden spoon in 2018 and 2019 with lads given no hope. Georgallis got them so close in so many games and it is hard to blame the coach in those situations.
Some may put forward it takes a complete overhaul to turn a club around from such a dire situation, and a new coaching team led by a fresh mindset is just what was needed. It’s hard to argue with that, which is why Georgallis was probably more hard done by given the promise he showed in such a short time. In his first game in charge Aiden Tolman sidestepped (giving many a fan minor palpitations), Jackson was running solid lines from wide of the ruck and JMK was even running from dummy half.
There was hope for a time and every week the phrase “the Dogs don’t deserve the spoon with games like this” or “this mob are so much better than Brisbane” were the only positives on the back of so many losses until they crept past the Broncos at the post.
Pay had more time to mould a young squad but in the end the creativity was lacking, even if the effort fluctuated like the 2020 stock market. At times they played with so much heart you were reminded why “Dogs of War” used to be a common phrase at Belmore. Other times though, truth be told, they looked like a bunch of park footballers.
Yet the key sign that he wasn’t up to scratch was the lack of creativity. You don’t need the best squad to introduce new training drills and attack formations, especially close to the opposition line, but I saw few or none of them over the past couple of years. The wins that came were often on the back of free-flowing long range attacks unleashed at the end of the season when it was too late.
Pay let the lads loose a little too late two seasons running. That tells me he never really had the game plan to build them up in the first place.
Between the two I think Georgallis earned another season at least, but I understand Barret was also about bringing in new players. Despite his limited success in his early years at Manly, there was a lot of positive feedback coming out of Penrith and players saw him as more of a shining light than Georgallis. You have to feel for Georgallis but it just wasn’t the right time for him to take over a team. When is it for any new coach?
Regardless, the choice is now made and all Dogs fans will certainly hope its the right one, just like we hope the Josh Addo-Carr and Burton can get an early release.