After nearly five years as Brisbane Lions coach, Michael Voss got the sack. Despite being a great player, he showed that he couldn’t coach at AFL level. Regardless of who replaces him in 2014, he must avoid the mistakes Voss made during his tenure as Brisbane coach.
‘Vossy’ was the captain of the great Lions side that did the three-peat of premierships from 2001-03 but as a coach, he was less inspiring. He has played players out of position or struggled to find suitable roles for them.
He managed one finals appearance in five seasons and that was back in his first season in 2009. He has made some bad trades, by bringing the likes of Xavier Clarke, Matt Maguire, Travis Johnstone and Brendan Fevola to the club.
Voss also caused a mass exodus of players to leave the club. Daniel Bradshaw was forced out to make room for Fevola but players like Mitch Clark, Justin Sherman, Jared Brennan and Michael Rischitelli ended up leaving.
If he had problems finding and keeping personnel, he also had problems with using the material that he had to the best of their ability. One of Voss’ mistakes was placing Daniel Rich as a half-back flanker, which defied logic.
Rich should player either at left-wing or as a half-forward flanker. He has an amazing left-foot kick and he can score goals from outside the forward 50. Why use Rich as a guy who can clear the ball from defence when he can be used to score vital goals? A reliable kick for goal like him must not be wasted in defence. Rich is a match-winner unlike most of the other midfielders.
Tom Rockliff and Jack Redden are ball-magnets but they can’t control play like ‘Vossy’ did as a player, or like Nigel Lappin or Simon Black. They also can’t create something out of nothing like Rich. Even Irishman Pearce Hanley is more of a match-winner than Rockliff and Redden.
Hanley’s unpredictability has bewildered opposition fans and he too probably should be used more in the midfield or forward line than as a half-back. Josh Green is another match-winner but for some reason, Voss used him as a sub. Green could be one of our best crumbing forwards, if not one of the best in the AFL.
In defence there are too many ex-midfielders or forwards. Leigh Matthews got away with it when he placed Justin Leppitsch, Darryl White and Chris Johnson in defence but most of the Lions defence is inconsistent.
Ryan Harwood has played in defence this season but he hasn’t looked very convincing as a running defender. When playing in defence, Harwood’s decision-making has been poor. He has to keep looking around for options. He should be more instinctive or go back into the midfield.
Daniel Merrett is a top full-back but he needs better support in defence. Maguire has been a shadow of his former self, even when he arrived at Brisbane and he gets beaten to easily in one-on-one battles. A new centre half-back is important too.
The Lions should consider taking the first draft pick and get Tom Boyd. Jonathan Brown is past his peak and the club needs to think about the structure of its forward line post-Brown. The Eastern Ranges key forward has an AFL player’s frame and the 199 cm tall forward who weighs 102 kg is an option worth looking at.
There is speculation that former Fitzroy great and Sydney premiership coach Paul Roos will get the job in 2014. There is a good chance that he will encourage the team to flood but at least he will add structure to the team and he knows how to manage his players.
2014 should still be an interesting year for Brisbane regardless of who gets the coaching job. Whoever does take reign must not make the type of errors Voss did.