KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR
After the recent loss to Carlton and the ‘refusing to learn from last season’ loss to the Doggies, I’ve started thinking was Knights underrated? Is his time at the helm of the Bombers superior to that of Worsfold, if taking in to account the lack of support and Old Essendon club politics?
Knights was hamstrung from the start at Essendon, he was given no budget for assistant coaches, the club had sh*t facilities at the time and was living on past glories and successes. However, the main issue was he had the impossible task of following Sheedy, ensuring many fans hated him from day one. The same fans who didn’t want to see that Sheedy had been captaining a sinking ship, topped up for years in hope of a last push for a premiership and handed over a list that was partially champions past their peak and partially duds.
Knights also didn’t have the ability to shape the team how he would have liked (i.e. wanted to rebuild but couldn’t trade out senior players who still had trade value). Add to that some terrible luck with injuries and poor drafting during that time. Yes, results were very erratic but when it worked, it worked. Essendon, 14th, won five games against finalists in Knights’ last year, grand finalists St.Kilda (twice), prelim finalist Western Bulldogs, plus Hawthorn & Carlton. (Also defeated 9th-placed North Melbourne.) In the first three of those wins Essendon conceded more than two years per player. An unbearable season according to the fans who piled on the pressure to get the underqualified but legendary Hird, that pressure stopped the young Knights was a chance to see his plan through.
Geelong is probably the best-run club in the competition and Knights has been there for eight years. They’re not a charity, they wouldn’t have employed him this long if he was hopeless. Do you think Gold Coast would be screaming for a priority pick if they’d won six games against the top nine? It was a young, developing team and Knights was cut no slack. Knights was coincidentally the same age as Dew is now when he was sacked, not even 40. very young for a coach, Essendon cut him off at the knees, and in a manner that ruined his reputation all to appease the ‘Hird in brigade.’
When discounting Bomber and Hirdy as though they had decent win percentages it came at terrible cost that took us to some of the darkest places in modern footy. It comes down to Knights vs Worsfold for the best (using ‘best’ very loosely) since Sheedy. Knights may have been a rocky ride, but it was a young guy with a vision crippled by politics. Whereas Worsfold’s stubborn refusal at adapt and grow despite being backed by the club has led to our total stagnation into perpetual mediocrity.
Can only hope the club gets behind Rutten and doesn’t torpedo the career of another young promising coach.