'Need a fresh start': AFL great's ominous call in Nathan Buckley saga

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Nathan Buckley (pictured right) speaking to his team at half-time.
Nathan Buckley (pictured right) is under fire after Collingwood's disaster of a start in 2021. (Getty Images)

AFL great Leigh Matthews has warned Nathan Buckley that AFL clubs can be ruthless when it comes to poor records after Collingwood's tough start to the season.

Collingwood are sitting 17th on the ladder after a horror 1-6 star to the 2021 season, following a heavily criticised trade period in 2020.

'MUST STOP': Footy player seriously injured in street assault

'JUVENILE': Anger over tiny detail in AFL team's photo

This prompted 3AW's Sportsday Gerard Healey to ask Matthews whether Buckley should remain as coach during Collingwood's obvious struggles.

Matthews said Buckley could find himself on the chopping block as he could become a scapegoat.

“It’s not whose fault it is that counts, it’s who gets the blame," he said.

"Everything’s gone wrong for Collingwood over the last 12 months, their really good players aren’t playing well and obviously you can look at where the list sits. So the people at Collingwood who are looking at it go: ‘OK, where do we apportion blame?’

“I do feel this exists at football clubs. Every now and again, it’s not about who’s better but every now and again, they just need a change, need some fresh air, need to start afresh. 

"Unfortunately, a new senior coach is almost the only thing you can do at a football club that gives you that fresh air of a new start."

Matthews added that if Collingwood's fortunes don't turn around in the next couple of months, a fresh start might be needed.

Buckley defends position

Buckley emphatically denied uncertainty around his tenure is affecting the players after the Magpies' horror season continued with a 24-point defeat to Gold Coast at the MCG on Saturday.

Quizzed again on his future, Buckley reaffirmed his commitment to an agreement with the Collingwood hierarchy to assess his position in the second half of the year.

"We're really clear on the timeline," Buckley said after the 12.7 (79) to 7.13 (55) loss to Gold Coast.

Buckley claimed critics had overrated Collingwood's potential after a turbulent off-season and trade period left them with a "different list profile" heading into 2021.

But he admitted he didn't see a slide of this magnitude coming after last year's semi-final appearance.

Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley talks to his players during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at The Holden Centre on May 04, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.
Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley talks to his players during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at The Holden Centre on May 04, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"The general expectation on us has been a lot greater than our capacity - full stop - but that doesn't mean we don't want to be doing better," Buckley said.

"We expect to be performing better and that expectation should be there from our supporters and people who love the club.

"They definitely want to be winning more, so they're hurting.

"But I think there is an unrealistic expectation and a heavy focus on the club itself, because we've given you a few storylines and you've run with them.

"There's no avoiding that for us but that's been the same for this place since day dot."

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting