John Kosmina jumped off a sinking ship, Ian Crook left because the job took a toll on him and Rado Vidosic couldn't be Ange Postecoglou. Who would really want to be a coach?
The recent resignation of John Kosmina has made for uncomfortable reading for Adelaide United fans. The much-quoted “lack of trust” and rumours of backroom infighting might have caught the headlines, but perhaps of most concern is the apparent lack of direction and stability at one of the league-s most successful clubs.
On the surface it appears the job of head coach is tougher than ever. Kosmina was the third A-League coach to leave his club this season, following Ian Crook at Sydney FC and Rado Vidosic at Brisbane Roar.
Ian Ferguson at Perth Glory and Ricki Herbert at Wellingon Phoenix have also both been under increased scrutiny of late, with Herbert having to fend of suggestions of interference from the board on coaching matters.
Each of these talented individual-s situations differs in its own way but there is one common theme for all the clubs: the lack of a clear structure and philosophy from the top down.
John Kosmina explained the situation at Adelaide as he saw it in his usual straightforward manner.
Ian Crook left for personal reasons but he was only appointed head coach when Sydney couldn-t get their first-choice in Graham Arnold, opening the door for Frank Farina to become the club-s seventh manager in eight seasons (after a failed bid to lure Gary van Egmond from Newcastle).
Rado Vidosic suffered when Ange Postecoglou left and took the league-s most well-defined football philosophy and structure with him.
Former Sydney FC and Jets coach Branko Culina admits coaching is a tough job but says it always has been. What counts, he argues, is the set-up of the organisation that supports the man in the dugout.
“There-s always been pressure on coaches but it-s getting more demanding, due to the way we have some new people in the game,” Culina says.
“From my experience, new people come into the game, they know very little about it, and they get enormous amount of influence with people who are trying to advise them of how clubs could be run.”
Compare those clubs in trouble or those coaches under pressure to those at the top three. Of course, everything-s easier when you-re winning but the Mariners, Victory and even the Wanderers have built their success on stability.
Lawrie McKinna is the only former Mariners coach and now the club-s director of football. Two coaches in eight seasons plus a board that-s hardly changed have given the league-s smallest club the ability to become one its most dominant teams.
“I-ve been here since before day one, John McKay is still the CEO from day one, I-m only the second coach, we-ve still got two foundations players here,” McKinna says.
“We-ve built a culture because when the competition-s only eight years old, you have to make your own culture and we-ve done that here.
“Some clubs have had new CEOs every year, new coaches - and over my five years as coach we had three good years and two that weren-t so good and the club wanted to do better but that-s just football. Arnie-s had great years and the stability off the park helps that because it means Arnie can just do his job and we can support him.”
McKinna says the pressure of being a head coach hasn-t increased significantly - but what has changed is the attention and scrutiny on the game.
“I look at Kossie and he was successful this year. When he took over they were struggling, and then they had a good run in the Champions League and were sitting second in the league. I don-t think his decision was down to pressure. If I coached again tomorrow, I wouldn-t feel any different to what it was seven or eight years ago.
“One thing that might put pressure on is because the league-s got more profile now you-re under a bit more scrutiny than you were before. And then that relates to the ownership of clubs; more and more the structures of clubs have changed, owners have come in and invested money and then they expect results.”
Culina, who experienced a certain degree of instability at both Sydney and Newcastle, admits it does take a tough individual to take on the role of head coach. His unsurprising solution? The support of those in the organisation around him.
“You-ve just got to be thick-skinned. When I was at Newcastle, you-d get on the blog and read some of the comments and think, ‘gee that-s a bit harsh but I-m not going to worry about it-. You can be strong-minded enough to ignore that but the people around at the club can read it and get influenced by it and then create that unhealthy environment.
“I-m a great believer in football directors - with a football background - look at the short and long-term future of the club. The coaches should be focused on results and worry about day-to-day, not about how to produce and develop players for the future or about which players to bring in for next year.
“If we-re going for professional organisations we-ve got to run them professionally.”
John Kosmina has already had his say on that point.