It hasn’t been a good week for two of this country’s higher-profile off-season coaching appointees, with former NBA legend Mark Price “asked to resign” from the South Dragons after just five games, and the axe apparently set to fall on Sydney FC boss Terry Butcher following his team’s early-season failure to replicate the sort of form that saw it become the competition’s inaugural champions earlier this year.
On the surface, the Price decision appears hasty and not a little underhanded (to say the least!). It would seem incongruous that the club’s administrators had put an offer to its star signing, Shane Heal, to take charge of the fledgling club as early as the middle of last week.
You can only speculate what must have been running through Heal’s mind as he suited up for what eventually became Price’s last game in charge, a defeat to cross-town rivals Melbourne Tigers at the weekend. But if the team’s most influential player – on and off the court – had any aspirations to coach, you’d think Price was clearly up against it well before tip-off.
The Butcher situation is just as intriguing, given the fact the club currently sits in fourth position, just four points adrift of second-placed Adelaide United. From afar, former England captain Butcher has been a highly visible asset to his club and the league in general.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
That said, the players’ decision to run their own training session without their coach on Monday obviously speaks volumes about where his standing lies in the all-important dressing room.
While we will probably never know the full story behind each of these uncomfortable situations, you’d have to guess there is more to the Price and Butcher situations than their win-loss ratio might indicate, especially given both coaches have barely had time to place their coaching stamp on their respective squads.
If that is the case, there is surely some sort of moral duty on behalf of the clubs to set out clearly what is expected of their trophy signings from overseas well before they make the long trek out here.
It doesn’t look good for the sport, and it certainly wouldn’t engender much confidence in the next “big name” a club might line up to boost the profile of the developing sports in this country.