Unrealistic Expectations

Jono Bullard gives his own view on Ryan Finnerty’s dismissal from Sheffield Steelers

I like Ryan Finnerty. In all the dealings I’ve had with him and every time I’ve met him I’ve found him to be a very pleasant bloke.
Whenever I wanted quotes for an article he’s provide them, whenever I asked for an interview for Cat’s Whiskers TV he’s grant it but best of all was the support he gave to the 4on4 Road Trip last year which was entirely off his own back. Whilst none of the above bears any relation to the qualities needed to coach a hockey team, I think it’s important for some of the more vociferous critics to understand what kind of a man he is.

Coach of the Sheffield Steelers is never going to be an easy job, the weight of expectation is always going to make it a high pressure environment, throw in a demand to win silverware from the fan-base and it can become a poisoned chalice if you fail to live up to expectation.
I personally don’t think Finnerty is a bad coach. His team challenged for the league in the past two seasons, they made the final of the Challenge Cup this season, however their Play-Off record can be deemed a failure. Most teams in the league would love that sort of record but once again that record does not meet the perhaps unrealistic expectations of the Steelers fan-base.
Personally I think he should have had an opportunity of coaching for another season, continuity is key as Panthers have shown with Corey Neilson and Blaze have proved with Paul Thompson. I don’t forget the mocking of Neilson as Panthers coach by much of the Steelers fan-base, I’d be willing to bet that those same fans would welcome Neilson to the Motorpoint Arena with open arms right about now.

Finnerty isn’t blameless and has had problems (as any coach has had) but enough to sack him? It can be argued that some players haven’t given their all under him and that he lacks the ability to motivate them, but surely as professional players they have a duty to give their best at all times? Some Steelers players (especially those who may feel ‘part of the furniture’) should have had a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror when the news came out this morning.
It would be a reasonable opinion that there has been no improvement from last season to this for the Steelers and as their first coach to go trophyless for two consecutive seasons maybe the writing was on the wall.

Finally there was owner Tony Smith’s ill-timed article in the Sheffield Star a couple of weeks ago, basically saying that Finnerty had to win silverware or he was out, which included the line “This is a team that expects to win”. I feel that put the team and coach under unnecessary pressure at a vital part of the season. Of course Smith may have had a successor already lined up, but unless it is at least an AHL equivalent coach to meet the unrealistic expectations of the fans, I can see Smith being the next target of the fans ire, which could be particularly unpleasant as he is known to read Steeltalk. Have the more vociferous posters on their influenced his thinking perhaps?
Names that have been mentioned as a possible replacement are Rod Sarich, Ashley Tait & current hot favourite Danny Stewart. With the best will in the world none of those could be regarded as an upgrade on Finnerty in my opinion.

All that remains to say is goodbye and good luck to Ryan Finnerty. Personally I think you deserved better.


3 Responses to “Unrealistic Expectations”

  1. 1 Gary Dinsdale April 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Totally agree Jono. There appears to be too many “hangers on” at Steelers, you only need to look at the number on non playing staff hanging around their bench during games. You can’t help but think how difficult it would be to manage a team when you have possibly got so much interference from others associated with the club?

    Finner after all was still a Rookie coach but has finished in 3rd place this year and 2nd last year (I think?).

    Steelers gave us a tough game this week, we lost due the game but due to the aggregate we won the cup! Had that game been the Play Off final, Ryan would probably still be employed.

    We have loved the rivalry and enjoyed (jokingly) singing “that song” but after Tuesday’s game, Ryan really was “sacked in the morning” and I think that is unfair!

  2. 2 EllieB April 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Very well put Jonno. Always seemed a really nice guy who took time out to talk to anyone no matter which team they supported. He should have been given another season but maybe it will be a blessing in disguise if you believe all the rumours.

  3. 3 Long Distance Traveller April 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    As an opposing player Finnerty was an agitator par excellence and became the pantomime villain. He was however a player that would have been worshipped if he’d been dressed in Black and Gold as all those that have agitated for Panthers. You cannot deny he wore his heart on his sleeve as player and coach.

    As a coach he had little experience to call on and the demand for success was always going to win and would decide how much “growing with the job” he’d be allowed. Not enough for Steelers seemingly.

    Long termism does work but any coach or manager needs those around him to believe in the coach’s vision and plans and to be sufficiently skilled to put them into action. Can he say that he had 100% support ? If he didnt then he needed to make more changes than he did.

    Being undermined by press comments by your employer is a sign that you aren’t wanted and even if he had won something who is to say he wouldn’t have been dismissed anyway. Desperation does strange things to people and the thoughts if Panthers sitting on a reasonable chance at a treble must be a sore point as it would if yhe situations were reversed.

    So should we be pleased that he’s gone ? Probably yes but not because he wasn’t a decent sort, its more that if he ever got it right, then everybody would have a job on their hands to stop him achieving massive success. Time will tell if the decision is the right one.

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