In his first season with the Newcastle Knights, Michael Hagan won a Premiership.
It was a fair achievement and many saw him as the new breed of coach who would go on to take the game to a new level.
The problem was that from that point on, Newcastle got worse and worse to the point that the club was a basketcase by the time Hagan left to take over the Parramatta Eels.
Taking over from Jason Taylor (Who took over from Brian Smith mid season), Hagan walked into a club that was very well run and who was on the very of being blessed with some amazing young talent during his first couple of season in charge.
The problem is, during his reign as coach, Parramatta have only got worse. Its at the point where not the Eels look completely aimless, having lost back to back games to the Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels.
As a Premiership winner, Hagan gets a lot of slack, you can’t argue too hard when someone comeback is “Well I’ve got a Premiership ring to prove I can coach” so lets have a look back at his days at Newcastle.
Hagan took over from Warren Ryan in 2001.
Ryan was an old coach who’s appointment was very surprising. Right from the beggining of Ryan’s time at the club many of the Knights players butted heads with him. At one point Andrew Johns was said to be VERY unhappy with Ryan and the players hated the style he wanted them to play.
The thing is, under Ryan, the Knights added some much needed toughness and dicipline. It was something the club needed, to the point that when Newcastle won the Premiership the year after Ryan left, most players mentioned Warren Ryan with praise during their Grand Final celebrations.
In short, you have to wonder if Michael Hagan won that 2001 Premiership Ring on the back of a lot of work Warren Ryan had done the previous few seasons.
Back to 2008, the Parramatta Eels are playing a lot like the Newcastle Knights did during Hagans later years at the club. Despite having some amazing individual talent, the club doesn’t really do anything all that great.
The Eels float in and out of games while lacking toughness and patience. They don’t show a great deal of structure in attack, and what structure they do have seems very simplistic and ineffective.
In defense, the Eels don’t scare anyone. They are easily confused and can be very lazy at times.
If they had a poor lineup you’d say they just aren’t good enough, but looking through their side you are hard pressed to find a bad player.
At halfback Brett Finch is playing good footy while Feliti Mateo has played some outstanding football at five-eight. Luke Burt is one of the competition best performers week in week out while Jarryd Hayne and Krisnan Inu are two of the games prized outside backs.
With all that talent, I have to look straight at the coach and ask what he is doing wrong.
With Daniel Anderson heading back to Australia at the end of this year and looking to base himself in Sydney, you have a proven winner that is ready to step in and take over should any club find itself in need of a change. While it might not be at that point yet, its gotta be a thought thats creeping into the heads of a few Parramatta officials.
Hagan has no excuses for the Eels pathetic showing in 2008. They have a lineup that should be in the top 3 teams in the competition. Instead the club sits in 10th position with just seven wins and nine losses so far this season.
if I was Michael Hagan I’d be playing my best hand right now, because if it doesn’t trun around soon at Parramatta he’ll find himself on the unemployment line.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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