Phil Gould is set to depart the Penrith Panthers, with a club board meeting set to make it all official tomorrow.
Gould came into the club as General Manager at one of the lowest points in the clubs history. At the times the Panthers were a complete basketcase.
Gould took his time consulting with officials, players, coaches, supporters and other stakeholders at the Panthers and soon started to institute changes that helped turn the club around.
He sacked Matthew Elliott and brought in Ivan Cleary. He worked hard to get the Panthers amazing junior development back on its feet after it had been neglected for many years under the former administration. He helped revamp the clubs media department to the point where it was one of the best in the competition, he changed the clubs logo and brought back the much loved Panthers colours and jersey that fans loved.
There were some moves that didn’t sit as well with people however, including me.
Sacking Ivan Cleary the first time around seemed like a poor decision at the time and looks to be even worse when you look at what eventually happened. Bringing in Anthony Griffin and then sacking him in 2018 as the club sat in 4th place on the ladder has turned out to be a disaster.
The signing of certain players who were then moved on before their contracts had run out always courted controversy. Getting rid of the iconic Panthers scoreboard didn’t sit well with supporters. It seems like coaching changes however where his eventual downfall.
Rumours that Phil Gould had a handshake deal in place to secure Wayne Bennett at the clubs coach came as a surprise. That the club over-ruled Gould and re-hired Ivan Cleary, at considerable expense, is huge and probably gave the signal to Gould that his time as the main shot caller at the club was over.
When you look at where the Panthers sit right now, after a terrible start to the season, no matter what decisions were made or who made them, they are all looking very poor right now.
The Panthers have everything going for them, and that is largely because of the changes Phil Gould made to the club. However, in Rugby League you’re only as good as your last results, and sometimes as change is just needed for everyone’s sake.
I was always one of Gould biggest critics, not because I didn’t like him, but because I want the Panthers ton finally be the juggernaught they really should be. It was disagreements over the last 10% of the job, not the massive changes he made to get the club back on its feet.
I am sad to see him go. I think the Panthers, more than most clubs, need a driving force, a personality to keep them going in the right direction. It will be interesting to see who takes that role now that Gould is on his way out.
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