WESTS Tigers have run out of people to blame.
They’ve gone through Tim Sheens, Mick Potter, Robbie Farah and Jason Taylor in recent years. This season they sacked Taylor after just three rounds to bring in Ivan Cleary.
At the time chief executive Justin Pascoe told us Cleary was the man to take the club forward. The Tigers are still going backwards.
They now sit last on the NRL ladder, right below the Newcastle Knights.
At the start of 2015 club chair Marina Go was the face of a strategic plan that pledged this team would develop into a top-four outfit by 2017. But if the Tigers don’t beat Gold Coast on Thursday night, they will be taking on the Knights in what will be essentially the battle for the wooden spoon next week.
The question fans should be asking is if anyone in power will ever accept responsibility for the mess this club is in.
When Taylor got the bullet Pascoe and the board basically made him the sole scapegoat.
“It is really important to understand as an organisation we’re here to make some tough decisions,” Pascoe said at the time.
“We are not going to sit here and allow this organisation to drift again and miss out on the finals. It has been since 2011 now.”
Yet they won’t be playing finals footy this year. Last weekend’s loss to Cronulla was the Tigers’ sixth straight defeat.
You have to go all the way back to round eight against the Bulldogs to find the Tigers’ last win.
A season that started with so much anticipation after their round one win over South Sydney has rapidly descended into another terrible disappointment.
Just as concerning for fans should be the fact the under-20s were hammered 84-6 by Cronulla last weekend. That was the highest ever Holden Cup score and equalled the biggest ever loss.
The Tigers under-20s won the comp in 2012. They currently sit second last on the ladder with the worst for and against in that competition.
On paper, you look at the Tigers NRL squad and compare it to what Nathan Brown has at his disposal and they are not even in the same ballpark.
The Knights would kill to have stars the calibre of Aaron Woods and James Tedesco for starters on their books.
Yes, the club has made some signings for 2018 with Russell Packer, Ben Matulino, Josh Reynolds and Taane Milne along with the recent acquisition of Tui Lolohea.
But let’s also remember they haven’t got any of them on the cheap.
Reynolds labelled the deal that forced him out of the Bulldogs “life-changing”.
And with Woods and Tedesco going, along with the recent departure of Mitchell Moses, it is hard to see how there will be any great improvements in the near future.
This will be the sixth straight year the Tigers have not made the finals. The Tigers only finished one win outside the top eight last year under Taylor.
Now they’re last.
Fans must have forgotten what it feels like to win. Last weekend the Sharks were without five Origin players to the Tigers’ two.
Yet the Tigers still found a way to surrender an eight-point lead heading into the final minutes. Yes, there was spirit and commitment for the most part but in the end the same sorry result.
I’m still not convinced Cleary is as clever as he makes out. He’s a good football coach according to players who have worked under him. But he comes across as condescending, if not arrogant, when people outside dare question what is going wrong.
It is not the attitude you’d think was needed to sell a club sitting last on the ladder.
You listen to Brown explain Newcastle’s predicament and he is always respectful and forthcoming with information that at least helps fans understand the club’s situation.
Maybe Cleary knows better, time will tell.
Not that anyone could point the finger solely at the new coach or even the players for the position the club is in right now.
This journey to the bottom of the ladder has been years in the making. Everyone involved should take some of the credit.