In about an hour, the answer to this question will be revealed. At that time, the future of Matthew Elliott will be decided. Panthers CEO Mick Leary will probably end the term of the embattled coach one season early.
Looking at the performance of the Panthers in the two years of his reign 2007 and 2008 gives a solid reason why the Panthers might make this choice. In 2007, the Panthers finished with the Wooden Spoon. Whilst finishing with the wooden spoon last year, a closer look at the numbers shows that they were probably unfortunate to finish where they did. The 8th Best attack in the competition, and the 13th best defense gave a points differential of -65. This was better than 5 teams in the competition! As such, improvement was expected out of the Panthers for 2008. A 12th place finish seems to fit that bill. However, the swoon with which the Panthers finished 2008 has created some bad vibes in Pantherland. Again compiling the 8th best attack in the game, the Panthers certainly scored enough points to be competitive. However, the defense again caused most of the issues with the same 13th ranking in this area this time around.
The real issue for Penrith has been personnel decisions. The Panthers board has over the past five years, offered more ill-advised contracts for a longer duration than any other club. Elliot, has been expected to polish this turd of a playing group all the way to the final 8?
Elliott should be fired for:
- Signing two wingers(Rooney, Lewis) for a combined 8 years and almost 5 million! after 2003.
- Signing two backrowers (Puletua, Gulavao)to lucrative contracts that took them well past their prime seasons.
- Handing out a massive contract to a guy with bones made out of fibreglass (Waterhouse).
- Handing out a contract of epic proportions to a guy who never intended to fulfil it (Pritchard).
- Not being able to sign any new players with the $3.50 left under the cap.
- Signing players with no thought to their ability to tackle.
So there you have it. Elliott did all of those things and should be fired. Then, he should be drawn and quartered and shit.
Here is a club that in 2009 will finally be rid of the bad contracts from 2003. This is not a smart football club.
My take on this is that Matt Elliott is a cerebral coach. He thinks two/three years and makes plans. He thinks about rebuilding. If ever a club needed to rebuild it is the Panthers. Get rid of some bad contracts, get some young more teachable players in to fit Elliott's style and go from there.
As I mentioned above, the Panthers are a stupid club. Moreover, the fans are not a lot smarter. Panthers fans loved the less cerebral post game interviews offered by John Lang - with numerous mentions of "the boys" and a heavy smattering of sporting cliche. Elliot's obvious intelligence makes him unpopular in the mountains. A land where all of the poppies are tall.
- Elliott is not sacked today, but after their round one loss. There is no obvious replacement.
- Club vigorously pursues a marquee winger - either Colin Best or Nightingale are offered $400K per season. Fuck, why not both.
- Panthers willing to take that Asotasi contract off the Rabbitohs hands.
And with that, the salary cap wiggle room is gone and the Panthers sign up for another 5 years of irrelevance.