Like myself, many of you will have been left stunned by the shock announcement of the departure of coach McClennan when the news broke on monday morning. I was informed a couple of hours before the official announcement and while I had a story release ready for the 11am press conference, I decided not to break it before then as I couldn't quite believe it and didn't want to end up looking stupid.|
McClennan follows; Eastwood, Donald, Diskin, Cummins and Poching onto the off-season departures list. Three key members of the playing staff, along with the head coach and a couple of his deputies, most with very little apparent reason or explanation linked with them packing their bags.
McClennan is probably the biggest shock of all. The plan in bringing Brian McDermott (win ratio as a coach of just 36%) back from Harlequins (in a season where his side finished second bottom) was that he would act as understudy to McClennan for a year before taking the top job. Most of us were comfortable with this, young Brian could get the winning coaching habit from old Brian before he took himself back to Australia. So what went wrong/changed?
There can only be three possible explanations;
We could believe the official explanation that McClennan thought he could go no further with the squad and that McDermott was ready, and the best man, to take over for 2011.
We could expect that McClennan has been offered a decent job coaching in the NRL (not yet announced), or elsewhere in Superleague, and he has managed to get himself out of the remaining year of his contract.
We could speculate that he has been edged out, either; by pressure from the 'management'; player power; or, he's been stripped of responsibility which has been given to McDermott.
I suspect that the third of these is the most likely to be the case, we have quite a track record of it at Headingley with Loughton being forced out 1995 by the arrival of Dean Bell and more recently Dean Lance being the victim of internal wranglings which left Daryll Powell as Leeds coach.
There is no doubting that Leeds had a poor 2010 by their very high standards. The Challenge Cup final disappointment and the failure to make it to the Grand Final could both be attributed to a terrible run of injuries throughout the season and if the form of the side last season was really behind the departure of Bluey then it does seen a bit of a knee-jerk reaction against a coach who delighted us with back-to-back Grand Final wins.
That said, I'll echo what Mr X said in his column yesterday, when was the last time that Gary Hetherington let us down? The chief executive does seem to have a knack of making decisions that work out, and those which don't tend to be quickly forgotten by those of us that crave on-field success.
Good luck Bluey, it's been a great ride with a lot more ups than downs. Thanks for putting, and keeping, a smile on our faces for the last two seasons and all the best for your future.