One coaching technique that removes pressure from the players and perhaps offers the additional benefit of job security is that of setting low expectations.
For Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan, being an assistant for the Dees and the Hawks exposed him to clubs with cultures more accustomed to being on the winning side of the equation to a greater or lesser extent.
He came to hold the top job for Brisbane for the 2017 season and his two campaigns have seen the Lions enduring a drought over the course of 44 home-and-away seasons, with only 10 wins to show. Each year provided five wins and it would appear to the casual observer that Fagan needs to move the needle in a positive direction during the 2019 Toyota AFL Premiership competition that bounces in five weeks.
Some of the players are getting ahead of themselves, claiming that the Lions are a good chance to make the top eight in the upcoming season. The attitude is commendable and accurate, given that all 18 clubs are to this point undefeated for 2019.
Fagan came along and did his job of managing expectations, appearing on radio show Macquarie Sports Radio Breakfast, where he told listeners, “No I don’t think we need to make the eight this year. We just need to continue to improve.”
Translated, he meant that Lions’ supporters should not expect another run of premierships in the manner of 2001 – 2003.
It required 13 wins last season to play in September, so Fagan is the last one who is going to go about saying the Lions can win an additional eight games over 2018 in 2019.
The main source of the optimism coming from Brisbane is that five of the Lions’ 17 losses were by seven or fewer points.
The Lions could look down the ladder and see St. Kilda, Gold Coast and Carlton below, but the view upward to Fremantle represents a gap of three wins, so the need for improvement is dramatic.
The Lions face Gold Coast in Round 1 and the Roos in Round 2, so it will not be long to determine if Brisbane can leap up to the next rung or higher in 2019.