Phil Gould is not the man to solve St George Illawarra’s problems. Picture: Getty Images
Phil Gould is not the man to solve St George Illawarra’s problems. Picture: Getty Images

Monday Buzz: Gould’s not the man to fix Dragons mess

Phil Gould once had a five-year plan to rebuild the Penrith Panthers.

It was abandoned nine years later and Gus walked away without a premiership but with a $1 million golden handshake.

He left behind a huge culture problem from a sex-tape controversy and other off-field dramas. A club that has failed dismally this year and a business that loses up to $5 million each year.

Seriously, if there was a model case on how not to run a football club, it would be Penrith.

Yet now St George Illawarra have hired the Channel 9 guru to conduct a review into a premiership campaign as disastrous as the one he left behind at the foot of the mountains.

The good news is Gus says this is not a review of the head coach Paul McGregor. Good news because the last time Gus conducted a coaching review he got it hopelessly wrong and inexplicably sacked Anthony Griffin, six months after signing him to a new three-year contract.

Under Griffin, the Panthers were running equal fourth.

His replacement Ivan Cleary, signed on a $4 million contract, has, to date, been a failure. The player reviews at the Dragons will be interesting. Do they really need Gus to work out Ben Hunt on $1.2 million is not value for money?

 

Anthony Griffin was sacked as Panthers coach six months after being signed to a new three-year contract. Picture: AAP
Anthony Griffin was sacked as Panthers coach six months after being signed to a new three-year contract. Picture: AAP

 

Do they really need Gus to work out they missed Jack de Belin all year and Gareth Widdop with a shoulder injury for most of the season. You start looking at Gus's player recruitment at the Panthers and wonder what he could possibly bring to the Dragons.

He signed Fijian try-scoring sensation Maika Sivo for two years and then let him go.

He signed Waqa Blake on a long-term deal (released to Parramatta).

He signed Reagan Campbell-Gillard on a long-term deal (about to be released to Parramatta). James Maloney signed for three years. Same thing. He has been released.

He signed Dallin Watene-­Zelezniak long term. Again, same thing. He's off to the Bulldogs.

Dean Whare got a five-year deal in 2017 and he's now being shopped to rival clubs.

Nathan Cleary got a $1 million-a-year deal and hasn't aimed up (he broke Penrith's point-scoring record on Sunday but it was a nothing game.)

 

Maika Sivo was let go by the Panthers. Picture: Brett Costello
Maika Sivo was let go by the Panthers. Picture: Brett Costello

 

You go back further. Bryce Cartwright and Tyrone Peachey to the Gold Coast Titans.

Gus paid $800,000 a year for Trent Merrin, declared he should be NSW Blues captain, and then sacked him two years later.

Jamal Idris, Jamie Soward. Luke Lewis, who went on to win a Clive Churchill Medal at the Sharks. Matt Moylan gets the Sharks to within one game of last year's grand final. James Roberts and Michael Jennings.

In fairness, every club, every coach and every recruitment manager have made dud signings.

Kevin Proctor, Ash Taylor and Shannon Boyd at the Titans. Ben Matulino and Russell Packer at the Wests Tigers. Even Michael Morgan hasn't lived up to his $1 million price tag.

But Gus has cornered the market in poor recruitment.

 

The Panthers endured a disastrous 2019 campaign. Picture: Getty Images
The Panthers endured a disastrous 2019 campaign. Picture: Getty Images

 

Don't get me wrong. He left his legacy at Penrith in high performance with the connections at the big end of town, who helped build a magnificent training academy.

But that's not what the Dragons need right now.

There is poor communication here and a mixed message going out to disgruntled supporters. Last week CEO Brian Johnston said McGregor's future was part of the review. Gus says it's not.

This club is stumbling in administration as much as it is on the field.

 

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