Coaches get too much credit and blame


David MoyesWhat a ridiculous spotlight there is on sports coaches these days. They get blamed too much for losses and praised too much for victories.

After all, they aren’t the ones on the field dropping passes and missing kicks, or scoring the brilliant tries.

Mark Hammett is now riding high as the Hurricanes Super Rugby coach. His team lead the New Zealand division and are headed for the semi-finals.

Some rugby followers, especially in Wellington, should be embarrassed about Hammett. They were calling for his head a few weeks ago when the Hurricanes began their season with three losses.

There was general satisfaction when Hammett announced this would be his final season with the Hurricanes. Now they want him to stay.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was apparently booked as the next All Black coach, because the Chiefs had won back-to-back Super titles.

But what happens now if Hammett’s team wins the Super championship? Has Rennie suddenly become a lesser coach?

It’s not just rugby. The Warriors panicked and sacked coach Matt Elliott after only five games this season, for two wins and three losses.

It was the sort of reaction made by club administrators unwilling to put the heat on the real culprits – the players. What’s next? Will coaches be axed if their players don’t fire up in pre-season matches?

Are the Warriors really any better off now, under caretaker coach Andrew McFadden, than they were under Elliott, or Elliott’s predecessor, Brian McClennan, for that matter?

It’s doubtful, but dumping the coach enables head office to look like it is acting with urgency.

Manchester United have just sacked David Moyes, a few games before the end of the 2013-14 premiership. Why?

Was Moyes such poison that he couldn’t have been moved on after the season finished, if that needed to happen at all?

The constant sacking of coaches is counter-productive.

Alex Ferguson was arguably the greatest manager in English football history. He was Manchester United manager for 1500 matches from 1986 till 2013. In that time they won 13 premierships, five FA Cups, 2 UEFA Champions League titles and various other silverware.

Yet Ferguson was lucky to survive and wouldn’t have in today’s climate.

His first result was a 2-0 loss to Oxford United. Manchester United finished 11th in the premiership in Ferguson’s first season.

After three seasons they had still not won anything and, in fact, finished only 11th in 1988-89.

By December 1989, there were widespread calls for Ferguson’s head. Manchester United were away to Notts Forest in a third- round FA Cup match. They were expected to lose and Ferguson would then be sacked.

Instead, United won 1-0. Ferguson survived and Manchester United went on to win the FA Cup that season. Ferguson never looked back.

It’s the same with the All Blacks. In December 2007, the Rugby Union could easily have replaced coach Graham Henry after the All Blacks’ worst World Cup performance – elimination in the quarter-finals.

Rather surprisingly, they retained Henry and he repaid them by delivering the 2011 World Cup, and a host of big wins in the years leading to the tournament.

Sometimes it pays to show faith in the coaches, instead of quick- fire sackings to satisfy the fans.