Before I commence this article, here is an article I wrote 12 months ago – “Something has to change Keiron!”
Has anything changed? Have we improved? Has it got worse? It feels like groundhog day.
I’ve tried to stay pretty much down the middle regarding whether Keiron should stay or go for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I have desperately wanted him to succeed: I want the players, the club and Keiron to be successful, which in turn brings all of us joy – none of us enjoy going the game watching us struggle!!! I’ve also held back as I didn’t want what I write to be considered and classed to be a kneejerk reaction; I wanted to able to gauge fan opinion and listen to all sides of the conversation. I also learnt lessons from what I wrote last season when I called for Keiron to go for his own sake, before he then went on to turn it round and saw us win 11 out of the final 12 league games!
Admittedly, Keiron was dealt a bit of a bad hand with Matty Smith suffering his leg break versus Widnes and disrupting our start to the campaign, but with Keiron promising things would be different on his return, then it was only fair to give him chance to prove it. Smith has now been back for three weeks, and whilst his introduction to the side has helped to a degree, it isn’t going to be enough to turn the tide. After the Warrington game we asked could Keiron possibly right and was there light at the end of the tunnel? Unfortunately it’s proved not to be the case, it was last chance saloon and someone has blew the candles out.
It’s a results based business: it’s the very nature of sport. Keiron knows this: even after the game tonight, he’s quoted as saying,
“If you don’t win, it’s a results-based industry and you are going to be under pressure”
After 8 games, 3 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses is simply unacceptable for a club of our stature and ambition. I know the old adage of you can only beat what’s in front of you, but you could say we were lucky to face Leeds and Warrington at home in games in periods they were both abysmal.
How long does he expect to be given to turn it round? After Easter Monday we’ll be pretty much half way through the run of fixtures before the Super 8’s split off. It’s highly likely we will be beaten in both of our fixtures over Easter – even the most optimistic of Saints fans can’t see us getting a result in either. A return of 7 points from our opening 10 games would see us under serious threat of missing on the Top 8, never mind a shot at the Top 4 and silverware.
There is absolutely no improvement in our style of play, its mind rigidly boring, predictable and blunt. The stadium is like a morgue, you look around and the amount of interest most fans are taking in the game is negligible at best.
In the past I’ve defended Keiron over the entertainment argument by saying results must come first; but we’re now getting neither. Considering we supposedly bossed the first half against the Giants, the crowd must have been watching a different game, as we never looked like scoring in the opening 20 minutes. That team that played against Huddersfield was arguably Keiron’s best 17, minus James Roby, yet it was an absolutely abysmal spectacle. Why did we only use one interchange in the first hour? Did we forget we had 3 others on the bench?!
Have we gone backwards during Keiron’s tenure? You have to say it has, the standard of recruitment has been poor and the players Keiron has brought in haven’t been good enough. On top of that, we seem unable to find a way of progressing players from our successful academy side in to accomplished first team players – you only have to look at how quickly Richardson discarded to see an example of this.
On top of all this, week in, week out, we are subjected to bizarre interviews that bear absolutely no resemblance to what the fans are witnessing. I’m not sure if Keiron is trying to convince us, or himself. Excuse after excuse, telling fans they’re kneejerkers and that the real fans can see the direction the team is heading is never going to end well, and shows a complete lack of respect for them and their opinion. When you’re sat up writing columns at 2am then surely you must be classed as a real fan? I sit reading or listening to interviews he does and find myself shaking my head in disbelief. If you read over some of the interviews Keiron has given over the last year, nothing has changed: they are empty words and excuses.
I was listening to BBC Merseyside’s Rugby League show Trytime on Thursday evening, and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was the guest and was asked whether there was a temptation to throw the ball round a little earlier in games rather than just in the last ten minutes when we’re chasing scores. Louie’s response spoke absolute volumes of the mentality of the coaching and mindset within the team at present. He said that the game has changed so much, that if you throw the ball round you may knock on or you may make a mistake and then heads can go down, and that it’s a different game now, it’s more defence… ow we have to grind teams down. For me that pretty much sums up our approach to games, we play with a fear of making mistakes rather than playing with flair to win. Is that the culture that has been bred into the club?
For the wellbeing of the club, change has to come, the question that needs to be asked, is whether this group of players would be doing better under a different Coach? If you believe the answer to this to be yes, then that’s good enough reason to make the change now, and give us a chance of rescuing the season. The chatter amongst the fanbase is nigh on unanimous now, whether it be on social media or the forums, around the stadium, in workplaces or just around the town. The fans are demanding change and it must be becoming too much for McManus to ignore.
Keiron has had enough time over the last couple of years to improve this team and he’s failed. With 18 months left to run on his contract, Keiron isn’t going to fall on his own sword – he’s too stubborn and determined to improve things to even consider it, and therefore despite the financial implications the decision to terminate his contract must be taken. If he stays in charge and we end up in the middle 8’s, we’ll lose revenue in numerous areas and that’s something we can’t afford to do, not to much the potential knock on effect it will have come Season ticket renewal time.
With a heavy heart I must say that I too want him to go. He was and always will be one of my Rugby League heroes, it’s sad to see what is happening and how some fans will remember him for his coaching ability rather than his achievements on the field. Even if we go on to win a few games, long term I cannot see a significant change that will see us compete for trophies with Keiron steering the ship. The underlying problems and issues will still remain, and Keiron has proven himself incapable of resolving them without creating more problems.
The question may be asked as to who is available out there to take charge? The answer at this point may well be no one – and if that’s the case put Wellens in temporary charge to attempt to rescue the season until we can put in place a proven coach for 2018. We have absolutely nothing to lose from a playing perspective by trying to change it.
Being a club legend for his playing achievements will never diminish and his statue rightfully adorns the stadium, but for the good of the club McManus must be decisive and say enough is enough: Keiron must go.