It was Cameron Shepherd against his old club who gave John Mitchell’s Emirates Western Force a clean sweep against the Australian Super Rugby franchises in 2009. His man of the match performance kept the Force’s slim finals hopes alive, and possibly Mitchell’s job. Despite having a contract until 2011, and despite the internal audit on the players and Mitchell’s authoritarian methods at the start of the season, which he agreed to tone down, it is believed that the coach is still feeling the heat.
With dwindling crowd attendances at Subiaco Oval – possibly the worst sporting venue in Australia, so is it any wonder? – and the loss of Matt Gitaeu and other key players, the management need to inject new life into the franchise.
It is this writers view that we will not see new life on the park as Mitchell’s tactics are both rigid and predicatable.
It is a known fact as relayed on “Not The Footy Show” at the end of November 2008 that World Cup winning coach Jake White is looking to move to Perth. What a coup that would be to have the World Cup winning coach as your coach? It may also pull in some of the 80,000 plus South Africans living in Perth, to boost the dwindling crowds.
Mitchell is no doubt aware of the situation and although sitting on a very nice contract may well be searching for pastures new, so that he can leave gracefully without the shame of being sacked. Not all of the Force’s failure to make the finals can be laid at the coach’s feet, but ultimately this is where the buck stops.
To reverse fortunes and inject life into the players and style of play it is time for change, finals or no finals.