2021 deja vu. That familiar feeling is back. That feeling in the gut that the premiership quest is once again over.
35 years since the club’s fourth premiership, it is set to enter a 36th year. The loss to the Rabbitohs doesn’t end the season. The Eels will play finals. But that should be the base for the club, not the goal.
Eight years since Brad Arthur took over and the club is in its best position since the Brian Smith years but he is not the man to take us any further.
There is no doubt the players try their absolute guts out every week. To see Reed Mahoney crying due to injury was tough. He gives his everything each match.
Talent is not the problem.
Commitment is not the problem.
There’s a mental block there the club can’t break through at the moment. When the pressure is applied, the resilience isn’t there to step up.
They are not, as I wrote last year, mentality monsters.
The club has improved an incredible amount these past few years.
Where we once didn’t have a single State of Origin player, we now have four and it should have been five.
We’ve become a top four threat and seen as thereabouts come September.
But the club has to be looking for more than that.
I like Brad Arthur. He’s an Eels man through and through. There is no question of his commitment to the club and that commitment was a breath of fresh air following Stephen Kearney and Ricky Stuart.
But sentimentality shouldn’t be involved in this decision.
It’s the second year in a row the side has crashed and burned at the back end of the season.
It will likely be the third consecutive year they don’t get through the second week of the finals.
It looks like Brad is an above average coach. His win percentage is above 50%. He’d be an ideal coach for a club looking to rebuild and compete every week.
He’s a perfect bridging coach. Need to become a top four competitor? Brad will get you there.
But Parramatta is beyond that stage now. We don’t want to just compete.
These past three weeks have hurt. They’re not the performances that we expect, they’re not the performances we accept and they’re not the performances we were putting in at the start of the year.
If you want to know what these performances are doing to the supporter base, here’s what my dad was doing tonight.
A born Eels man, went to the 1976 grand final, he switched off at half time. He knew what was coming and he couldn’t bear to watch it again.
Eels fans have been patient. They have the longest current drought in the NRL.
I am not here to keep hearing, “just wait a little longer,” when nothing is changing.
It’d be different if we had a massive injury list, or we were just getting outplayed by the absolute best.
But it’s against teams we should be beating that we’re struggling.
We’re heading for the same result as 2019 and 2020.
It’s not good enough, and in a proper sporting organisation it shouldn’t be good enough.
I don’t think now is the time to gamble on a rookie coach. We need to find someone with experience, who can take this side to the next level.
Thank you BA for your service, but it’s time to go.