David Lowe: Mark Jones sacking doesn't achieve anything

DOWN AND OUT: Mark Jones looks on during the F3 derby loss to the Mariners two weeks ago. A six-week losing streak cost the coach his job. Picture: Getty Images
DOWN AND OUT: Mark Jones looks on during the F3 derby loss to the Mariners two weeks ago. A six-week losing streak cost the coach his job. Picture: Getty Images

We can all relax now, can't we? Problem solved, feet up, take a little winter break, come back in a few months and everything will be much better. Run of the mill, really. Let's make it interesting – why don't we appoint a new coach in a month or two, give everyone else a head start in the recruitment stakes, just to make it a more even contest?

I am pragmatic enough to understand professional sport is a results-driven business, as I'm sure a gracious Mark Jones recognised, but if he is not wondering today how different things might have been if management had acted as swiftly and decisively when the desperate need for a goal scorer became apparent, then he's a better man than me.

I'm on record (ad nauseam) as saying there is no miracle cure for teams in positions like the Jets’ and Mariners’, barring a massive injection of funds and player talent. I stick by that 100 per cent, despite plenty of different opinions, and also remind people that a one-off boost isn't going to provide long-term answers or the solid foundation a regional club needs.

The club’s apparent decision to retake control of its youth development system in recent days may prove to be a defining moment, but many important policy decisions must be made and much investment needed for benefits to be extracted.

The best performance of the weekend (Tivaci aside – go you good thing) was by Robert Dillon in Saturday’s Herald, where he coolly and calmly dissected the enormity of the task Jones faced.

Yes, I know others before him have, and indeed incoming coach X maybe will, too, unless there is major change in squad quality, and that's the whole point.

I'm told Dillo copped a caning on social media, and that will concern him zero, but I enjoyed the structure, the clinical, cold, no-vested-interest breakdown, he provided.

Are the long-suffering fans allowed an opinion? Of course, and for the most part it is considered with good grace by your columnist, who recognises it comes with good intention.

Many refuse to believe that, in pointing out the club’s pattern of behaviour year after year, the mistakes repeated over and over, that I intended to do anything other than protect my “mate”, and that's unfortunate, but perhaps I'm not as concise as R Dillon.

Like most footballers, I will fall back to what I know best when under pressure and ask you this: If you send a horse to a race against horses from all over the country and finish close to last four or five years in a row, do you fix it by sacking the jockey, or send a horse with more ability? Damien Oliver or Hughy Bowman may improve it a length or two, but you're looking for 20 to 25. Flogging a dead horse, anyone?

Anyway, Jones has been found guilty. What of, I'm not quite sure, but many people are happy today, and I'm not quite sure why, either.

“The place needed a clean-out, Lowey.” 

I would concur, to some extent, and the club made no attempt to hide the fact there would be massive changes to the playing roster for next season.

Would your employer telling you that you are surplus to requirements after the next six weeks affect your performance? Multiply that by 10 or 12, and would that affect overall output, even subconsciously? I ask that because effectively we are judging a coach on a six-week period, aren’t we?”

“He couldn't organise a defence, Lowey.”

Well, after 21 games his team had conceded 34 goals, at about 1.6 per game. Not brilliant, but not too bad, either. In fact, had they done the same for the final six matches, only Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar, the Wanderers and perhaps Melbourne City would have conceded fewer.

Why the collapse in the last six games? A mystery? A tired nucleus? Disgruntled soon-to-be-ex-Jets? Snowball effect on confidence? Not good enough?

I'm not sure, really, but it has to be 100 per cent the coach’s fault, right?

We can all twist statistics to suit our arguments, some more effectively than others, and I am capable in that department, I admit. But I prefer to go with overall impressions, plus a little back-up. Let's try this: “Scott Miller finished eighth with an indisputably much less talented team.” It’s one of my favourite claims from the critics.

First of all, big whoop. Does that really matter? I could say the Jets missed eighth place this time around by one point! My eyes and fading memory tell me that the Jets have been more expansive under Jones.

That is no blight on Miller, who I have maintained did a decent job and was unlucky to lose his position.

I would dispute that the creativity of Carney and the goals of the much-maligned Milos Trifunovic wouldn't have added hugely to the Jets’ arsenal this season. 

Consider also that Mark Birighitti was player of the year by as far as Jason Day can hit his driver and you might see a bigger picture.

This season, Jack Duncan, who has performed very creditably, is not in the top five in the shots-saved category, suggesting surely that he didn't face the same volume of attempts as his predecessor?

Perhaps the Jets were “in” more games but couldn't convert, or was that just a wild excuse offered by a desperate coach?

Andrew Hoole’s 60-odd chances created, four more than the brilliant Diego Castro, suggests they might have been. Hoole's record of two assists – yes, that's two from 60 – confirms the lack of quality in front of goal from a host of Jets players and indeed cruels statistically the very valuable efforts of the Novocastrian youngster.

Perth have conceded the same number of goals as the Jets but scored 25 more from perhaps a similar number of opportunities. Does that come down to coaching or quality of players?

The decision has been made. It's back to square one for the Jets, yet again! Me, I think so much more than the coach needs changing. Others will disagree.

Maybe the answer lies on page 22 of yesterday's Herald, courtesy of an unbiased, reliable Ginger Meggs. “Hey, Pop. What's wisdom?" Pause. “Whatever's left after you run out of opinions.”


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