Phil Gould says he can "guarantee" the Bulldogs will be a force in the NRL again soon, pointing at his experience with Penrith as proof of his ability to help turn a club around.
The Bulldogs haven't played finals footy since 2016 and have been languishing on or around the bottom of the ladder for several years now.
Trent Barrett's inability to turn things around for the NRL strugglers saw the coach hand in his resignation this week, with two-time Bulldogs premiership player Mick Potter taking over as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Barrett leaves Belmore with just five wins from 34 matches in charge, despite an expensive recruitment drive that has included the additions of offensive weapons Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Tevita Pangai Junior, Matt Dufty and Paul Vaughan - many of whom signed to play under the former coach.
Fox League’s James Hooper warned this week that Barrett's exit could have "seismic ramifications" for the Bulldogs, with the futures of a number of stars such as Burton and Pangai now reportedly up in the air.
Fellow star signing Brent Naden was the first to jump ship after Barrett's departure, with the outside back this week joining the Tigers in the wake of Barrett's departure.
Despite the drama engulfing the club, Gould - the general manager of football at the Bulldogs - insists plans are firmly in place to transform the NRL battlers in a similar way to that seen at defending premiers, the Panthers.
“There are a lot of similarities and differences [to Penrith],” Gould said on his ‘Six Tackles with Gus’ podcast.
“They’re in a different area, but there’s no stopping the Panthers now. The Bulldogs will be good too, I guarantee it.
“The Bulldogs are a big club. They’ve got a massive fanbase and the club has been in the doldrums for years. I know it’s been frustrating, but you can’t just wave a magic wand and fix that. It’s taken a long time to get into this state, you don’t just suddenly turn it around in a day.”
Phil Gould flags big changes at Bulldogs
Gould says the problems at the Bulldogs run deeper than just results on the footy field, and insists the club needs a broader culture and structural shift.
The league icon has identified the need for a long-term plan at the Bulldogs, who he claims have tried to “recruit their way out of trouble” in the past.
“That’s not the way to fix the club, you’ve got to take a long-term view of it,” Gould said.
“It’s kind of saying ‘all right, I know you’ve had a long period of losing, but there’s going to be more before we get better’. That’s just how it’s going to be.
“It’s the truth. Whether people are prepared to accept that or not, it’s the truth.
“My aim is that the Bulldogs are never in this position again. This club should never be in that position. They will have a recruitment and development program that will sustain them long into the future.”
Central to Gould's vision is the establishment of an academy system within the next 18 months that will “provide a steady stream of young talent” for years to come.
“That hasn’t been in place,” Gould said.
“That’s been neglected for a long period of time, therefore we have some players showing NRL potential in the junior ranks, but nowhere near enough.
“I want an academy that starts at 14, 15, 16 years of age for local talent and other talent that we recruit to be developed as Bulldogs from those teenage years."
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