Stick a fork in us

Another season and it's that same sinking feeling. That feeling of disappointment that once again another year has slipped by and the premiership drought continues on its slow march towards its 40 year anniversary.

Tonight the Eels went into the clash missing just two top 17 players. One may have been the halfback, but it was no excuse for the insipid and uninspiring play served up in Mackay.

While Parramatta has been fairly blessed on the injury front these past few seasons, they played a Roosters side missing more than 900 games of first grade experience. They were playing a side that is currently asking opponents if they can borrow players because their injury list so big they can't field a 21 man squad on Tuesday.

If you're a premiership contender, you put that side to the sword. But it was the Roosters showing that even when they're held together like some kind of rugby league Frankenstein's monster, they could still be a force come finals time.

In my opinion, this is the end of the line for Brad Arthur. This is far as he goes. He sees the season out, then he's gone. Set this in stone. I'm officially calling for Brad Arthur to be relieved of his duty.

He has done a phenomenal job to not only return the club to respectability, but also to premiership relevance. I will write more on this when the time comes.

But it appears the side has not improved enough on last year and that is on the coach. The side is still mentally weak. When the going gets tough, the team wilts. I thought this was gone. At the start of the year, when this same side beat Melbourne at their own game, in torrential conditions I thought we'd turned the corner. 

I won't call his continued selection of Jakob nepotism. If anything that's the easy way out. You say it because there's no logical explanation for why a player who is clearly not ready for the NRL is being selected. It's not nepotism. It's stubborness. He's made a mistake and refused to correct it until it's too late.

Had he cut his losses after last week I'd have copped it.

He did the same with Waqa Blake and Blake Ferguson. It wasn't until the side was embarrassed by the Sea Eagles did he change. That was after nearly two years of everyone knowing the combination didn't work.

His comments this week regarding Peter Sterling's criticism showed he isn't going to change. Sterlo rarely criticises the team. But he's been more pointed this year than any in recent memory. It's clear he's frustrated and the solutions he points out are pretty simple, but Arthur doesn't apply them.

Sure, he doesn't have to take advice from a TV pundit. But when that TV pundit has won four premierships and remains one of the sharpest minds in the rugby league world, you'd damn well better listen.

The Eels will play finals again this year, but it will be as cannon fodder. It will not be from the top four. They have not shown the mentality required to see out the remaining matches and gain the necessary wins to keep their spot in the upper echelon.

It's something Melbourne does so well.

I recently spoke to Christian Welch about the Storm and their attitude to this year after winning the comp. They sat down three days later. Three days after they had won the premiership they were sitting down in a meeting room and began analysing what they had done wrong and what needed to improve.

That's the mentality you need to win a premiership year on year.

The Eels don't possess that. And the coach must wear it. The side tries hard. There is no denying that. Brad cares deeply for the club and there is no denying that. But there is no room for sentimentality in professional sport.

At various stages this season we have missed one of our spine players. Penrith have missed multiples at different stages. Melbourne have missed multiple spine players at different stages. They don't fall apart. We do.

That is on the coach.

Against both the Raiders and Roosters we possessed enough ball in good field position to win comfortably. We were aimless, directionless, and once again that must fall on the coach.

I have seen some fans rejoice at the fact we're a finals team and I enjoy watching us play in September. But I want more. 

I look across the seas to Liverpool. To the side that after winning the title in 2019/20 suffered a horrendous injury toll the following season. They still managed top four despite fielding a centre back combination of a bunch of rookies and journeymen.

They did it because, in manager Jurgen Klopp's words they are "Mentality Monsters". No team won more points after the 80th minute in the 2018/19 season than Liverpool. They waited until the 95th minute to keep their top four hopes alive at the end of last season when goalkeeper Alisson Becker scored from a corner.

When asked about his side's consistency across the past three seasons, Klopp said, "Anyone can have a good day, but you have to be able to perform on a bad day".

And that's Parramatta's problem. When they have a bad day they are not mentality monsters prepared to stick it out until the very end.

Back in May, I wrote this:

"But the premiership window is open. This group is not going to be at a top four level for forever and the club needs to take advantage of that.

"Some coaches, this as far as they can take a side. They can put a team together, they can get them to top four and consistent finals but no further. 

"Unfortunately, that's where I see Brad Arthur right now. He's a good coach. He has a win percentage at 52% which, for eight seasons in the NRL is nothing to sneeze at.

"The club should not tolerate another straight sets exit. That would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the board and administration who have been doing a pretty good job since being appointed."

Well, keeping Brad on beyond this year is now a dereliction of duty. This is as far as he can take them in my opinion.

I've thought about who to replace him with and, guess what, a certain Trent Robinson is off contract at the end of next year. Maybe an early approach in October is in order?

I know there will be some telling me to trust the process or some other bullshit. But this is personal to me, and I'm sure many others feel the same way. Some of the fans who have been telling others to remain calm, are the same fans who got to witness the 80s and enjoy those moments.

I didn't. I got to enjoy slightly above mediocrity. And I never got to celebrate a premiership with my grandfather. I'm hoping this club get its shit together so my son can celebrate one with his.

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  • Great post but really it's all cathartic because apparently BA is as safe as houses at the Eels. 
    Im just hoping that Mark O'Neill can find his big boy pants and pull the pin. 

    • Nah he is not going to do that. He cannot see the writings on the wall...

    • This blog is mostly catharsis because I won't sleep after that performance.

      • Come on - we should be used to it !!

  • Good blog mate.. I hear you. Isaw the whole match fast forwarding. Its high time that I stop watching EELs playing. I cannot take side to side, run 5 m and take a hit and SIVO's missed tackles and not understanding the plays. I cant take it. I wonder whether we will ever win GF in near future. Our board lacks spine. They are just here to enjoy cozy seats thats all. O'Neil...sorry mate he has not brought any winning mentality. I like the Klopp analogy. What he did to Dortmund is what we expected from Arthur. Alas... it wont be....

    • I don't think our board lacks spine. I think they've been very considered, stable and measured in their approach which is what they need to be. But I think now is the time to bite the bullet.

  • Watch TCT hail Arthur. Honestly, can all unicorns just go that website and all the realist stay here.

    • Sixties is pretty much the only one still holding onto him. Mitch doesn't really seem to back him anymore given his recent Tweets.

      • Maybe Brissy can join Sixties. 

      • Yes sixties gets bloody upset if anyone criticises the coaching team. There are just some things you just don't do. 
        The TCT are pretty brutal on Twitter if anyone dares suggest that BA is in anyway responsible.  If they can't at least acknowledge there is a problem, they will lose all relevance. 

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