AFL Rd 14 - St Kilda v Brisbane
AFL Rd 14 - St Kilda v Brisbane

How Richardson can save his job

Just 10 weeks remain in the home and away season and it's time for the Saints to show some improvement, with the club's football boss revealing how Alan Richardson can keep his job.

The club's second disastrous showing in three weeks had football boss Simon Lethlean handing Richardson a brutally honest assessment of his tenure.

The man who will effectively decide Richardson's fate says the club needs to showcase its development but also prove it can knock over top-eight sides for Richardson to survive.

That 10-week run starts against Richmond next week and also includes Geelong, Adelaide away and Fremantle.


Saints coach Alan Richardson AAP
Saints coach Alan Richardson AAP


"We need to show some significant improvement from last night, no question. I think that performance hurts everyone at the club," Lethlean said.

"Alan understands if we don't keep improving, we are all under the pump. I think that's a fair assessment of anyone involved in a footy club. No one's role at any club is guaranteed.

"After 13 rounds we are 6-7 and better than last year. We have to start beating teams around us not below us and have to prove we are better than last night. If we keep improving Alan will still be our coach."

Lethlean told Richardson as much at a meeting on Friday, then the Saints turned it up in a horror third-quarter against Brisbane.

Lethlean said it was a dispiriting loss for a side that had so much to prove against a finals contender.

"The coach is the one that bears the brunt of it but as Dan Hannebery said there is some ownership from the players on that performance," he told 3AW.


Saints players feel the pain of the big loss. Pic: AAP
Saints players feel the pain of the big loss. Pic: AAP

"There was a real lack of effort and hardness from a number of players and they have to shoulder the burden. It is unhelpful for all the things we are trying to achieve for the footy program.

"It was a really hollow performance and we didn't have too many players stand up and respond. It was hard work, we couldn't stem the tide, if left you concerned about the playing group's effort that night."

Lethlean said there had been significant changes to the club's program had worked, and said the club's long injury list had to be factored in.

He said the club had to assess Richardson's progress in recent history, saying it was impossible to judge him on the early years of rebuilding.

But this week Richardson will pass Grant Thomas (123 games) for games coached at St Kilda, meaning he trails behind only the legendary Allan Jeans despite not taking the club to a finals game so far.

Geelong legend Jimmy Bartel said the club had to factor in one of footy's worst injury lists, with five of the club's top seven in last year's best-and-fairest sidelined.

Lethlean won't shy away from tough decisions on Richardson, who has multiple clauses which would see him coaching next year.

"It's my job to analyse what improvements are required. As head of footy it's my task. Dean Anderson is on the board as a footy director and we talk regularly.

"As early as Friday Alan and I had an open conversation about it and I don't think anything I have said is anything he and I haven't discussed.

"When you are winning and the media is coming at you the scrutiny is fair enough and it's what dictates where the season goes."



St Kilda footy boss Simon Lethlean. Pic: Michael Klein.
St Kilda footy boss Simon Lethlean. Pic: Michael Klein.