There’s no doubting that if there is one coach massively under the pump in 2017, it’s Nathan Buckley.
The Collingwood coach has been at the helm for five seasons and in each of those seasons, the Pies have made a decline down the ladder.
The top-eight expectation comes slightly because they haven’t made it in a while, slightly because they have enormous talent in their list, but mostly because of comments Buckley made in August 2016.
Buckley declared 2017 as “finals or bust” in terms of his coaching position and didn’t expect to continue his role in charge if his side don’t make the finals for a fourth consecutive season.
The Magpies coach revisited those claims on SEN Breakfast this morning, announcing it is his role which should be taken into consideration by the club if they miss the finals.
“We expect to play finals and it’s he coach’s job to mould the program and to provide the environment for the players to be able to go out and do the job,” Buckley said.
“Invariably the senior coach is the guy that has to pull it all together so I absolutely take responsibility for that.”
It is important for the Pies to take it one week at a time and to focus solely on their upcoming opponents throughout the season, making it ver clear that no hypothetical scenarios have been spoken about regarding the end of the season if they don’t meet expectations.
“I can tell you that categorically we haven’t thought about that far down the track or how far down the sixth year of my coaching tenure we’re going to get before you start lifting your eyes and looking beyond,” Buckley said.
“I think any successful organisation focuses on each day as it comes in terms of getting the best out of yourselves.
“Were looking forward to jumping into pre-season, making the most of whatever is in front of us.”
Tim Watson hailed his doubts over the Pies for 2017, claiming that Buckley’s honesty is what will lose him his job.
“I think they’re up against it making the finals this year. I think they can improve from where they were last year and still miss the finals,” he said.
“I think for any coach that has been there six years, it is an accumulation of your results over that period of time.”
Co-host of the Breakfast show Garry Lyon somewhat agreed, suggesting it will be headaches all year round for the Collingwood hierarchy.
“There’s too much focus on the end result when there is 30 weeks in the lead up to that… we judge him by whether they play finals or not,” he said.
“Nathan Buckley may have his best year as an AFL coach this year and still miss the finals and then it would be wrong if Collingwood were to move him on.”
The likes of Chris Mayne (Fremantle), Will Hoskin-Elliot (GWS), Daniel Wells (North Melbourne) and Lynden Dunn (Melbourne) will all be very welcome to what was a youthful Collingwood side in 2016 and will be an integral factor into their success.