The season has not officially started and media outlets struggling for news before a ball is bounced have felt the need to try and make a story out of nothing. The latest chapter revolves around comments from President David Koch that he expects the Power to play finals in 2017. Supposedly these public comments have placed unnecessary and extra pressure on Ken Hinkley.
It is baffling but not all that surprising that certain football programs like The Footy Show, On The Couch and Footy Classified have felt the need to dig up comments made by Koch last month and before to fill air time. Former Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes also addressed the issue in an article this week. http://www.adelaidenow.com.
The reality is the Sunrise host is echoing comments most level headed Port fans agree with. All AFL clubs are under different levels of pressure for different reasons heading into the season and if these comments do legitimately cause the club concern then deeper problems exist. There is a radical solution the club can implement to remove some of the pressure during the year. It’s called winning games of football.
Ken Hinkley has himself said on numerous occasions in the last year Port Adelaide need to play finals. He has spoken about his disappointment that after making a Preliminary Final in 2014 the club has stagnated.
Hinkley has been in the game a long time and understands the pressure. AFL is a results driven business. Regardless of injuries, suspensions and bad luck, teams are judged on wins and losses. Ken said it best when asked about the pressure he was under last month “I’m going into a season where the performance has been unacceptable” If the coach can admit performance has been below par then surely a club president can say the exact same thing?
Other stakeholders at the club have made similar comments since the end of last season about performance targets in 2017 such as CEO Keith Thomas. Even the players and specifically the leadership group have talked about the need for the Power to return to September action. If anything the comments from David Koch confirms the club are on the same page with what should be a realistic aim.
The old school Port Adelaide fan certainly comes from an era that success was both expected and demanded at Alberton. But more credit needs to be given to the current fan that may or may not have followed the club in the halcyon days.
Fans are not asking for a Premiership or necessarily finals every year. But people who watch the game do have a brain and the ability to comprehend on-field results and they know what underachieving is. The Power has not played finals for two years, and has only played finals two years in the last nine. Results like this deserve to have on-field performance under scrutiny.
Let’s spin the discussion a different way. Had David Koch not made any comment on playing finals would Ken Hinkley still be under pressure from the fans and media this season? Of course he would. In fact had he not made any comment the media would probably find a way to get stuck into him for that. Maybe instead of saying the club is aiming for finals he could have said the club expected to finish last. I am sure the local media would have been very supportive of these views.
Some would simply prefer David Koch did not comment at all but he is a media performer and he simply answered a question he was asked. When Port Adelaide play well he is the first to congratulate the team. If they play poorly he asks questions. Surely it is reasonable to have accountability?
The off-field work done by David Koch cannot be undervalued and if anyone has a right to pass comment on club expectations he has. Ideally things go well for the Power on-field and if they do then the coach has nothing to worry about. If it is a poor season for Port Adelaide it will not be because of pre-season comments from the club president. The football department has been resourced enough to improve.
While Kane Cornes and others may view the comments by Koch as a tactical error to have the coach under the blowtorch it is also a tactical error to accept mediocrity. Something that has been present at Port Adelaide more often than not in the last decade.
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