Giants caretaker coach Mark McVeigh’s brutally honest assessment that his players “checked out” in the club’s 73-point Sydney derby loss have raised the eyebrows of pundits including a call for rivals to leverage the situation to try and raid his talent.
McVeigh didn’t hold back in his assessment of his team’s post-match performance, labeling it “embarrassing,” and even saying only eight players “went to the wall” and that the club has “got to shift the standards.”
It comes as several stars including Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper face uncertain futures at Western Sydney and have been linked to trade talks.
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And former Melbourne skipper Garry Lyon believes rivals should look to take advantage of McVeigh’s post-match comments in their bid to lure players out of the club.
“In the ruthless industry that we’re in, those comments for me also give Richmond, just for example, if you were interested in Tom Green before the weekend and those comments, then now you are going as hard as you possibly could – or Taranto or Hopper for that matter,” he said on SEN Breakfast.
“Whoever the teams are that are interested in them, you’re going ‘righto, this is where they see you, and here’s your opportunity’.”
It comes after St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt feared McVeigh’s comments could cost the caretaker coach a full-time gig in 2023.
The Giants have now fallen to 3-7 under McVeigh since he took over from Leon Cameron in Round 10 including dropping their last four consecutive games to slide to 16th on the ladder.
And speaking on McVeigh’s bold statements on Fox Footy’s First CrackRoos legend David King questioned whether an interim boss was in a position to launch such a scathing assessment.
“They’re huge statements, and this is a bit of an awkward situation, it’s a caretaker coach. I know he’s been (in charge) for 10 weeks and there’s some frustration there … but I’m not convinced that a caretaker coach can make those sorts of grand statements,” King said.
“I’m not sure he can question the standards of your football club and (say) that they’ve got to shift, he can name only eight players and isolate the rest.
“(Saying), ‘We’ve going to find players who want to fight it out,’ I’m comfortable with that, of course, that’s the gig. But questioning whether players have checked out — they’re pretty bold statements and sweeping statements that go across a club.
“Gee whiz, I wonder whether the footy manager would grab him and say, ‘hey, listen, (saying we) embarrassed the club’s a bit strong. We’ve still got three weeks to finish off here. We still need a positive environment, we still need to challenge everyone to get better, absolutely.’
“But saying, ‘we’ve got to shift the standards of our football club’ is a poor reflection on the total club, not just not just the representation on field for that two hours.”
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Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna believes isolating the performances of eight players was the most damning, saying it “threw the other 14 under the bus”.
“The eight he mentioned were the leaders including Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly, who I didn’t think they had a huge influence,” Montagna said.
“Basically he’s throwing all the kids under the bus — James Peatling, Jacob Wehr, Leek Aleer, Xavier O’Halloran, Lachie Ash and Tom Green. They’re all still trying to find themselves as players.
“To not include them almost saying, ‘well, they didn’t go to the well for the team,’ I thought was a bit unfair. Start with the leaders, they need to change the culture of the footy club. He did mention a few of the younger ones who are coming up, Sam Taylor and Harry Perryman, but I think it needs to start right at the top.”
Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon also wasn’t a fan of McVeigh’s post-match criticism.
“Instinctively I didn’t like it at all, because you’re individualizing the ones who did and the ones that didn’t, and you’re distancing yourself,” he said on Triple M.
“I think there’s conversations you have behind closed doors. I didn’t like it at all… there’s three rounds to go, there’s things you often want to say as the senior coach, but you can be too honest.
“You can’t do that to your playing group… you lose them straight away. What’s the reason they’re like that? Your job is then to dive in and try and get to that and turn it around. I don’t know how that’s being achieved by saying it publicly.
“At the end of the day you’ve taken the reins, it can’t be all care and no responsibility. When you put your hand up to take the chair you can’t separate yourself.
“He’s a really strong character and really well respected, but just saying it doesn’t mean things are going to.