Dubble Click
News Blog

No reason to hit panic button as Arthur can get more out of this team

To every single Parramatta Eels fan out there, I urge you to take one big breath and remember that season 2022 is far from over yet.

It can be tough being an Eels fan. We are constantly reminded our last premiership was in 1986 – in my case, before I was born – and the fact we have bowed out of the finals race in Week 2 in our last three appearances seems to make us cannon fodder for other supporter bases.

Because it has been so long since Parramatta last won a premiership it has also created a certain restlessness among the fan base. This has created expectations. Leading into the 2022 season, the Eels lost a number of key players for 2023, including Reed Mahoney and Marata Niukore. This seemed to lead to a conclusion for so many that the Eels would win the premiership this year because it was their last shot.

Fairly or not, the current administration and playing group are under tremendous pressure to succeed and bring home that premiership. In a way, this is unfair because it is not the current administration or playing group’s fault that the fan base has been starved of success for so long, but they unfortunately happen to be the custodians of that legacy.

It’s fair to say Parramatta’s season has been up and down so far, a trait that many have been critical of.

There have been some important successes, including the 28-24 victory over the Melbourne Storm in Round 3 and the 22-20 victory over the reigning premiers, the Penrith Panthers, in Round 9.

But there have been some horrible losses too, including to the North Queensland Cowboys in Darwin, a thumping by the Canterbury Bulldogs and an embarrassing Easter Monday loss to the Wests Tigers on a day the club was celebrating its 75th anniversary.

What is concerning me at this point of the season though is that after every loss and even after a win, when the Eels have not played their best footy, there seems to be this emerging theme of criticism of Brad Arthur. There are suggestions that Arthur has lost the dressing room, that he is unable to galvanise the dressing room for important games and more concerning that there is a poor attitude among the playing group.

To this I say: rubbish, particularly given that Arthur and his game plan seem to have no problem in succeeding against the toughest teams in the competition.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 13: Eels coach Brad Arthur looks on before the round one NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Gold Coast Titans at CommBank Stadium, on March 13, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

It is far too early in the season to be making such rash judgements, and I would have thought that Eels fans would have learnt that the hard way in 2021.

In a six-week period leading into finals last year, the Parramatta Eels lost five out of six games. It wasn’t just that they lost the games, it was that they were comprehensively beaten. A 28-0 loss to the Sydney Roosters was followed by a 40-12 loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, a 56-10 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles and then, later, a 40-6 thumping at the hands of the Panthers.

But in among that, the Eels were able to beat the Storm 22-10 and beat the Knights in Round 1 of the finals before they suffered the narrowest of losses to the Panthers to end their 2021 campaign.

Who is to say that the same thing cannot happen again this year?

I might be wrong and Parramatta may stumble in the finals once again, but I would rather give Arthur the benefit of the doubt and give him the opportunity to take our team there once again.

At the moment all we have are what-ifs.

Would I rather play smart footy in the finals and lose some games along the way during the season? Absolutely.

Would I rather be inconsistent at this point in the season before making a surge towards the finals? Absolutely.

At this point in the season, with Parramatta sitting outside the top four by just two points, there is no reason to panic and there is certainly no reason to make any rash decisions about our coach or our players.

As fans we are so invested in the success of our teams. When the season is over we sit patiently through another off-season, counting the days until our teams start playing again.

Given where Parramatta sit on the ladder right now, I think there is much to look forward to this season still without claiming that the sky is falling.

While it is true that Parramatta have bowed out of the finals in the same spot the last three times, this is far too simplistic.

In Week 2, 2019, the Storm beat Parramatta comprehensively 32-0.

In Week 2, 2020, the Bunnies beat the Eels 38-24. Parramatta were in this game for most of it until a missed Mitchell Moses conversion bounced off the upright and led directly to a South Sydney try.

In Week 2, 2021, the Eels left it all out on the field and could not have given any more, falling just short of the reigning premiers.

In each year there has been improvement. I’m banking that there’s still more improvement to come in 2022.

Source link

Comments are closed.