Michael Hagan jumped before he was pushed today, calling a surprise press conference to announce he had quit as Parramatta Eels coach due to family reasons.
Hagan narrowly avoided the sack this year after a disasterous season coaching the Eels, and heading into 2009 the Parramatta board had already given him a deadline to avoid getting sacked next season.
Had Hagan made his announcement and dissapeared, he would simply have been remembered as a coach who couldn’t get the job done on his own…..but his comments to the media after the official press conference will see him branded a whinger and unemployable in Australia by any club.
Hagan claimed that the off field behaviour of young players and their “disrespect for the game” had been a reason for him deciding to quit. THEN Hagan went on to claim that Grapple Tackles was a reason for him to quit.
Its an embarrasing end.
Michael Hagan took over a stacked Newcastle Knights team in 2001 after Warren Ryan had worked to give the team a hard edge. Hagan took over and won a Premiership in his first season. His coaching obviously helped along by the fact he had Johns, Buderus, MacDougal. Tahu, Kennedy and the like.
People expected big things from the games new supercoach however from 2001 onwards Newcastle started a long slide into oblivion.
Poor off field behaviour, terrible on field performances and a poor game plan saw the team with the games best player in a generation become nothing more than also rans.
Hagan left the Knights is a complete mess and claiming he did not have the facilities or the money to get the job done, his move to Parramatta was seen as being his chance to really step up as a coach.
With plenty of money, great facilities and a great group of young players at his disposal, Hagan had a great first season at Parramatta after taking over from Brian Smith. The expectations were high for 2008, however the season turned out to be a disaster for Parramatta.
Tim Smith’s complete mental break down early in the season mirrored the Eels performances on the field. Despite having some amazing talent, the team was cxompletely aimless and constantly out worked and out played by the opposition. It all culminated in a must win game at home against the New Zealand Warriors for a place in the NRL finals.
The Eels got belted.
The season ended with talk that Hagan was gone and the players had little to know respect for him.
Of course the other part of this story is the Newcastle Knights.
After a tough year in 2007 cleaning up Michael Hagans mess, Knights coach Brian Smith turned things around and showed his quality as a coach, bringing in a number of youngsters, unearthing new stars and getting a Knights fan base behind him that had doubted him in the beggining.
2008 turned out to be a year of the complete undoing of Michael Hagan. Parramatta will be a better club now that he is gone.