Ross Lyon is expected to be canvassed as a candidate to replace Brett Ratten – and is prepared to take the Saints’ call – following St Kilda’s shock decision to axe its coach.
The Saints on Friday became the fourth club this year to be on the hunt for a new coach after it sensationally parted ways with Ratten following a review of the club’s football department.
It came three months after Ratten signed a two-year contract extension that tied him to the club until the end of the 2024 season.
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Both St Kilda chief executive Simon Lethlean and president Andrew Bassat on Friday insisted a replacement for Ratten hadn’t already been lined up.
Bassat, however, said the Saints have “a very clear view about what we need”, promising members “we’ll get the right coach for this club.”
said didn’t have “the winning culture or ruthless commitment to football excellence that we need” – and Lyon is as ruthless a coach as they come.
Lyon, who’s publicly flirted with the idea of a third coaching stint in his media roles, was linked to the then-vacant Carlton, North Melbourne and Essendon roles over the past 12 months.
The 55-year-old is St Kilda’s second-most successful coach, having taken the club to three Grand Finals – including a replay – in 2009 and 2010 before abruptly and dramatically leaving the Saints in late 2011 and joining Fremantle. He then led the Dockers to four consecutive finals series – including the 2013 Grand Final – before a tough final four seasons that saw him win just 29 of 87 games and, ultimately, sacked.
7 News Melbourne on Friday night reported talks between St Kilda and Lyon were expected to ramp up over the next week.
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The Age reported Lyon had a good relationship with board member Jason Blake, who played under Lyon during his playing career and was part of the review that led to Ratten’s sacking, while the Herald Sun reported Lyon had “strong supporters” at the club “pushing hard for his return”.
Asked bluntly if the club had spoken to Lyon, Lethlean said: “We haven’t … We’re not going to talk about the next steps. Today is about showing the respect to Brett which has been a really tough decision for the club.
“We’ve made no decisions about our next coach.
“What I would say is between Andrew and myself and the board, we’ve uncovered what we need and our members need to know we’ll be swift and decisive and go and find the coach we need.
“We were not going to have dialogue with anyone until there’s a vacancy. There’s a vacancy now.”
Strengthening the push to get Lyon back would be the fact that the Saints have struggled badly to recapture the heights of the Lyon era in the past 11 seasons, having gone through three senior coaches since then and making just one finals campaign.
While Lyon hasn’t coached in four years, the lure of unfinished business could be too strong for both the Saints and Lyon to resist after they came so close to, but fell just short of, achieving the ultimate success together.
Highly-rated Melbourne assistant Adem Yze, who narrowly missed out on the Giants and Bombers coaching roles recently, is also expected to be in the mix, while Saints favourite sons Robert Harvey and Lenny Hayes will also be considered along with Mark McVeigh and Ash Hansen.