Gould on Panthers exit: ‘It’s the right time’
PHIL Gould's sudden exit from the Penrith Panthers surprised a lot of people but the man himself is adamant the
time was right for him to move on from the club.
Gould on Tuesday asked the Panthers board for a redundancy after a tumultuous start to the 2019 season which included the return of Ivan Cleary as head coach - the man Gould himself sacked back in 2015.
Speaking outside his Sutherland Shire home on Wednesday Gould told The Daily Telegraph it was time he moved on from Penrith after eight years at the club.
"I'm feeling good today, just got a few media interviews today that's it," Gould said.
"No future plans at the moment just letting the dust settle.
"Everyone around me has been good, came as a shock to a few but it's the right time."
The growing power struggle between Gould and the Panthers came to a head when former coach Anthony Griffin was sacked on the eve of the 2018 finals. Gould had Wayne Bennett lined up to take over for 2019 only to discover the Panthers board had done a secret deal to bring Cleary back to the foot of the mountains.
Cleary listed a number of conditions before rejoining the Panthers which included limiting Gould's influence over the team, essentially benching the club's executive general manager from having any involvement in the running of the first grade squad.
It is a sorry end to Gould's time at the Panthers, a club he helped build from the ground up when he arrived back in 2011.
The club's junior pathways systems and centre of excellence is the envy of other Sydney clubs and the Panthers have been touted as premiership contenders for years despite never quite achieving premiership glory.
Despite all the talk about a rift between Gould and Cleary, Gould fiercely denied he had lost power at Penrith or that he left after falling-out with Cleary.
"(That has) absolutely nothing to do with this decision," Gould said. "Ivan is the right coach for the club going forward.".
Gould's redundancy request is set to be accepted at a Panthers board meeting on Wednesday.
Penrith's board will discuss possible candidates to replace Gould in an interim capacity. Directors will also talk about the club's management and football operation structures.
Gould, 60, will seek a hefty payout on his $800,000 a year contract and also recently made inquiries at Channel 9 about a full-time role at the network to cover potential loss of earnings if he was to quit his position at Penrith.
It appears Gould may struggle to find another NRL club in the short-term after Cronulla rejected any moves to sign him as the club's new general manager of football.