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Thursday, May 17, 2018

John Worsfold insists Essendon’s ducks are all in a row

Under-fire Essendon coach John Worsfold says he remains “strongly aligned” with the club as pressure intensifies in the wake of Mark Neeld’s shock exit.
Neeld’s position as game performance coach was made redundant on Monday after an upset loss to previously winless Carlton left the Bombers reeling from a 2-6 start to the season.
The move came amid reports of communication problems inside the coaching box, rejected yesterday by Worsfold, who also denied his former right-hand man was a scapegoat.
“I worked really closely with Mark and really enjoyed working with him. He’s got a huge amount to offer, both in football administration or general business world with his character,” Worsfold said.
“People will put things in a context to angle it the way they wanted, so I’m fully supportive of Mark’s decision.
“I consider him a friend and I’m rapt with everything he’s done to support me in my time at the Essendon Football Club and I’ll continue to support him in whichever pathway he goes.”
Worsfold received a two-year extension in March, tying him to Essendon until the end of 2020.
The club’s decision has come under growing scrutiny as the bad losses have piled up over the past month.
“I’m really confident in my communication with the board and (chief executive) Xavier (Campbell) at this footy club that we’re not happy with where we’re at, but we’re on a clear pathway to where we want to get to,” Worsfold said.
“We’ve all got clear roles to play in achieving that, so I see a club that’s pretty strongly aligned and really focused on doing the hard work to get to where we want to get to.”
Worsfold was criticised for his post-match comments after the Carlton defeat, when he said the evolution of the team’s brand had to be player-driven.
Bombers great Matthew Lloyd and other prominent commentators, including former champion player Garry Lyon and Campbell Brown, questioned that assertion, arguing that Worsfold needed to take charge and demand his team play a certain way.
“The good teams are coach-led, but great teams are player-led,” Worsfold said.
“That’s just the way it is and we want to be a great team.”
Worsfold refused to guarantee high-profile recruit Jake Stringer would retain his spot in the side to take on Geelong at the MCG on Saturday.
The enigmatic 24-year-old forward, who has been managing a sore back, has not kicked a goal in the past fortnight.
Star defender Michael Hurley will miss the Cats clash with a hamstring injury. Jordan Ridley and Dylan Clarke will make their debuts.