Great players don't make great coaches. It applies to nearly all sports and Australian Rules Football is no different. That logic seems to have disappeared as far as the Michael Voss sacking is concerned. He has been sacked as Brisbane Lions coach but he has sympathy from both fans, the media and from his colleagues in football.
'Vossy' was and still is a Brisbane Lions legend. He was the captain when the Lions did the premiership three-peat from 2001-03. That doesn't mean that he was coaching material. Although lots of people talk about 'projects', some coaches possess the ability to coach and others don't.
Voss could have been John Worsfold's assistant at the West Coast Eagles but he decided to replace Leigh Matthews at Brisbane in 2009. Aside from his first year, he has shown that he doesn't possess the ability to coach at an AFL level.
Players were used out of position, there were list management issues and players were leaving the club. Anyone fearing a exodus of players if Voss stayed on had the right to do so. Losing players like Michael Rischitelli and Mitch Clark was bad enough. The Lions would hate it more if players like Daniel Rich and Tom Rockliff departed.
Great coaches know how to bring the best out of players by fitting them into the right roles and motivating them. Ross Lyon hasn't won a flag yet but at St Kilda and now at Fremantle, he has shown that he can implement a system and get results with the players at his disposal.
Some coaches can carry on the good work left by the predecessors. Chris Scott at Geelong and John Longmire at Sydney have made sure that the work done by 'Bomber' Thompson and Paul Roos respectively wasn't in vain.
There are coaches who do have some luck. Alastair Clarkson is an example of a bloke at the right place at the right time. He was an assistant coach at Port Adelaide and he became Hawthorn coach when the club started bringing in a whole bunch of kids. 'Clarko' has many champions at his disposal but he needs to win a second premiership. For this generation of Hawks to have only one flag isn't good enough.
Voss might not have had the material that Clarkson had or foundations to build on like Scott and Longmire but he wasn't shrewd like Lyon either. Was he the only club legend to disappoint as coach though? Certainly not.
Peter Knights flopped at Hawthorn. Kevin Bartlett had a tumultuous time as Richmond coach and his former teammate Francis Bourke started off well both things went off the rails. Robert Walls took Carlton to the 1986 and 1987 VFL Grand Finals, winning the latter. The next two seasons were shockers and he got the sack. Wayne Schimmelbusch was a premiership hero with North Melbourne but he didn't do well as coach of the Kangas.
We shouldn't forget Tony Shaw too. Not only was he a premiership captain with Collingwood but he played under Matthews, just like Voss did at Brisbane. He too replaced 'Lethal' and in four years, the Pies kept sinking. Shaw was sacked after taking the Pies to the wooden spoon in 1999.
Fans and the media alike are wondering how Brisbane could treat a club legend like Voss in a bad way. Regardless of what someone has done in the past, you must focus on the present and on the future. Voss showed that he was a great player but he didn't show enough ability to become a great coach, regardless of the players at his disposal.