Across the globe, few industries are more ruthless than sports. Because of the sector’s physical demands, age and injuries can unquestionably impact career longevity and selection processes. Recently, this issue has come to the forefront concerning the AFL, with Ken Hinkley publicly calling for more from his veteran players, Brad Ebert and Justin Westhoff. So, let’s consider whether the Port Adelaide coach was right to question two experienced players.
Laying Down the Gauntlet Isn’t Always a Bad Thing
In sport, experience is an invaluable trait that is only acquired through years of hard work and unrivalled professionalism. That said, career longevity shouldn’t make competitors immune from criticism because of their previous contributions and success. Between them, Ebert and Westhoff have given a combined 21 years to Port Adelaide, but that hasn’t seen them avoid criticism from their 55-year-old coach.
According to a report by News.com.au, Hinkley declared that both of his veteran players need to earn their places in the team, implying that reputation alone is no longer enough. The public call-out comes after both were dropped in advance of the one-time AFL winner’s clash with North Melbourne. Moreover, the decision to implement change comes following the Power’s victory over Geelong, which saw them retain their spot at the top of the table.
Pressurized Man Management Doesn’t Always Work
Outside of the AFL, there are numerous examples of pressurised management resulting in fruitful player improvements and trophy-winning success. However, this is often rare. Perhaps the most notable example of this style in sport comes from Jose Mourinho, the current Tottenham Hotspur manager. The Portuguese coach is notorious when it comes to questioning his player. While his record somewhat speaks for itself concerning success, his man-management hasn’t always yielded positive results.
Although, of course, there are distinct differences between football and Aussies Rules, managerial styles aren’t limited to specific sports. If Hinkley is drifting towards a Mourinho-like approach, then he may find himself being unable to once again get the best out of Ebert or Westhoff.