Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane has admitted that the Suns have turned in some “rubbish” performances in 2021 but says he believes his side is on track to realise its dream of winning AFL premierships.
After finishing higher on the ladder last year than in any of the five seasons prior, the Suns were considered dark horses in the pre-season.
With Stuart Dew entering his fourth year in the hot seat and the likes of Matt Rowell, Rory Atkins and Brandon Ellis on the books, 2021 firmed as the year Gold Coast might at last play finals footy.
However, despite stringing together some impressive performances this season, hefty defeats at the hands of Port Adelaide, Brisbane, and Geelong in the past six weeks have called the side’s ability to match it with the big boys emphatically into question.
AFL experts slammed the Suns after their 50-point loss to Port Adelaide in round 14, with Brisbane legend Jonathan Brown terming their effort “embarrassing” and “disappointing”.
“Yes they’re young, but there’s no excuse for the lack of effort,” Brown said.
This is as bad as it looks from the Suns. Just embarrassing, especially after serving up rubbish last week. They’re going backwards at the moment. #aflsunspower#afl
Not that long ago, this was the kind of effort that would get a coach sacked #aflsunspower
Is there a bigger rabble in Australian sport than the Gold Coast Suns? I’d say the Mariners but even they’ve sorted themselves out a little bit (kinda) #aflsunspower
Asked how he felt after the loss, Cochrane appeared to be on the same page as the premiership-winning Lion.
“If I was allowed to say s**thouse on TV, I’d say I was feeling completely and utterly s**thouse,” Cochrane conceded on Monday night’s episode of On The Couch.
“I don’t think too many people particularly want to be president of the Gold Coast Suns.
“The Gold Coast Suns are a particularly difficult work in progress, but it certainly is a work in progress I intend to see out.
“Yes it’s difficult, yes what we’ve served up on a few occasions this year is rubbish.”
Cochrane has been the Suns’ chairman since 2016. Picture Glenn HampsonSource:News Corp Australia
However, Cochrane pointed to the side’s victory against Collingwood at the MCG and their six-goal triumph over Hawthorn as evidence that the Suns can still turn up the heat.
“We’ve had moments this year where I really felt that this is starting to gel,” he said.
“I can start to see what we’ve been talking about for the best part of two and a half years.
“And then you see the underconfidence, and the very ordinary performance we turned up with not only last week but the week against Freo as well, where we were insipid, to be honest.”
The Gold Coast kingpin rejected suggestion that coach Stuart Dew should shoulder the entire blame for the club’s underperformance.
“We’re now in the fourth year under Stuart and we expect to see a strong finish to the season,” he said.
“But let’s not gild the lily, the coach, the director of football, the CEO, the president, we’re all under pressure.
“We’re all under the pump and we need to be. Because look at what we’re serving up, it’s not good enough and that’s a whole-of-club problem.
“You just can’t hang it on one person.”
However, Cochrane said he would be open to seeking out an experienced footy brain to help turn the tide.
Co-host Nick Riewoldt suggested Michael Voss, James Hird or Nathan Buckley could prove assets to the South East Queensland outfit.
“We’ll look at anything,” Cochrane said.
“If we could find someone of the calibre that you’re talking who was prepared to come on board and help us in some fashion or form, of course we’ll consider that.”
Cochrane said the Gold Coast is aware its “insipid” performances will need to be stamped out if the side is to achieve its AFL dream.
“We want to be in the competition to win premierships,” he said.
“That might sound like a stupid statement coming from someone in my position at the moment but the moment we stop believing that we may as well pack up and go home.”
Cochrane was reluctant to put a time frame on reaching those lofty heights, insisting that “there’s no magic bullet”.
“You dig in, you go again, you find a better way, you keep working hard, you keep waking up every morning thinking what you can do to make the place better,” he said.
“There is no other way.”
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