A senior group of Essendon players are keen on Ross Lyon taking over the coaching reins, according to SEN’s Sam Edmund, as the Bombers begin their search for their new senior boss.
Lyon, who was linked to Carlton’s opening last year before pulling out of the race when he was told he’d have to go through a formal interview, said last week he’s “very weary and cautious about anything to do with AFL senior coaching” and that a return to the caper was “highly unlikely” despite being considered one of the favourites for the Bombers role.
Edmund reports the section of the Essendon playing group want a “senior mentor” and “disciplined approach” to take the club forward, although Lyon’s willingness to go through a selection process remains an unknown as well as his current understanding of the process altogether.
Watch every match prior to the AFL grand final Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“The feedback I’ve been given is that some of the big names in that playing group want a strong hand. Someone to really come in and take the bull by the horns — Ross Lyon would obviously be that man,” Edmund said on SEN Breakfast.
“I think (new president) David Barham’s quote (that they’re targeting) a more experienced coach is a truer reflecting of where the club’s mind sits, rather than (footy boss) Josh Mahoney’s attempt to clarify that over the weekend — that an experienced coach could mean a long-time assistant coach.
“That might have been to protect them from having egg on their face in the chance they do go a for a first timer, but with Ross Lyon, I’m told that’s who the players would want.”
Former Essendon skipper Tim Watson said he’d also heard a group of senior players “wanted to be coached harder than what they have previously,” but questioned how much say they’d have given the club has formed a selection panel to make the appointment.
Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph reported on Fox Footy’s On the Couch that Essendon would likely first contact experienced yet contracted coaches such as Port Adelaide’s Ken Hinkley and West Coast’s Adam Simpson, and if they showed little interest, would form a shortlist.
“I think Ross Lyon would have to swallow his pride … He might be on a shortlist, but he’d have to go through multiple interviews,” Ralph said.
Asked if Lyon was “in or out” for the Bombers coaching job, Saints champion Nick Riewoldt, who played five seasons under Lyon, told On The Couch: “At this stage I’d probably lean towards out, but not definitively – because every time I listen to Ross speak, I still hear a coach. I still think there’s a coach locked away within his being.
“I think Ross would absolutely be prepared to go through a process … I think the trouble last time with the Carlton situation was it went from a headhunting situation to a process overnight. As he said, if the conversation shifted and he understood the process, well then he could make an educated decision. But I don’t think anyone’s spoken to him yet.”
Former Fremantle midfielder Ryan Crowley, who played four seasons under Lyon, endorsed his ex-coach as the perfect candidate for the Essendon job, adding that he didn’t think he’d need to go through as much of a thorough process as others applying for the opening.
“I just think that’s exactly what that club needs and I know there are a lot of people out there talking about how Ross has never won a flag and they’ve got reservations about him, I just cannot understand that,” he told SEN.
“You know how big of a fan I am of him, if he told me to stand in front of a bus I’d probably still walk out and do it now.
“He just really brings some structure, he’s got the experience and I’ve got no doubt that sitting there all the rule changes and all the ways the AFL has changed over the years, he would already have a plan in mind – if he’s ready and willing to step into that role.
“Any team that is looking for a coach and isn’t talking to Ross Lyon is doing the wrong thing in my opinion.”
The Bombers last week formed the sub committee that’ll choose their next coach which includes current Mahoney, four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis and Carlton legend Robert Walls after parting ways with Ben Rutten and missing out Alastair Clarkson, with Barham indicating the club will run an exhaustive process.
Former Essendon boss James Hird, who returned to club land at GWS this year after his Bombers exit in 2015 during the supplements saga, has also been liked to the role, but remains noncommittal about a return to senior coaching. Despite this, AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson believes Hird would “deep down … love to coach” again.
The Bombers are also on the hunt for a new CEO and have several board vacancies after a bold- shake-up following a seven-win season as they undertake an external review.