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Murphy must have complete control


Murphy must be given complete control at Tigers - Andy Goode

It’s taken long enough but now the ‘interim’ prefix has been removed from Geordan Murphy’s title at Leicester, he has to be given complete control in order to make Leicester competitive again.

A lot of people will question the timing of this announcement, given that Tigers are on their worst run of form for 43 years, and you can understand that point of view but I just think it’s an acknowledgement that the title should never have been left as interim for so long.

Making someone an interim head coach for a week or two is one thing but to leave it for over three months just raises question marks and also creates doubts in the players’ minds as to what’s going on.

Now he can tell players that they’ll be heading for the exit if they aren’t pulling their weight.

They’re missing Tom Youngs, who’s out with a knee injury at the moment, as he always puts his body on the line for the cause and sets the tone but too many other players just aren’t showing what it means to play for Leicester.

You just hope Murphy doesn’t have one hand tied behind his back while trying to do the job.

He has to have complete control of the environment in terms of the coaching setup, recruitment of players and everything that goes with that. There is a rugby committee at Leicester but Geordan has to have the authority to make decisions now.

Can you imagine Mark McCall being told who he can and can’t sign? It just doesn’t happen. If you’re going to be judged on the team’s performance and results, you need to be the one responsible for deciding on who you have coaching and playing underneath you.

George Ford said at the weekend that Leicester have been left behind by some other teams. He’s right and their recruitment in recent times has been abysmal.

A huge part of that recruitment has been on Ford himself though. There’s no doubting his ability on the front foot but his salary costs more than those of Freddie Burns and Owen Williams combined and that’s without the significant outlay to get him out of his contract at Bath.

The problems at Tigers go way beyond him and he shouldn’t be made a scapegoat in any way but his signing didn’t fit in with the transfer policy of the club and I do think it was a naïve bit of business and a panic signing.

The result is a massive imbalance in the squad and there just isn’t the squad depth or quality up front to furnish a backline that is brilliant on paper but hasn’t performed or had the platform to perform on the pitch.

Poor management off the field and recruitment have got Leicester into this position and Geordan has to be given the reins fully and he has to be ruthless in terms of the players he wants to move on, as well as bringing new faces in.

In terms of recruitment on the playing side, it takes three years to shape your own squad, though, and he will have to be given time and autonomy in order to correct the mistakes that have been made in recent years.

Jose Mourinho was sacked as manager of Manchester United on the same day that Geordan Murphy was confirmed as Leicester’s permanent head coach and they might be different sports but there are huge parallels between the two clubs.

Both are absolute behemoths of clubs that became accustomed to success but are now adjusting to a new reality. Both had real stability during their periods of domination, Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson and Leicester with Dean Richards and then Richard Cockerill.

Football is a completely different ball game and Mourinho did spend £400 million on players but he wasn’t allowed to bring in the central defenders he said he was promised in the summer and there has been strong criticism of the board at both Manchester United and Leicester Tigers.

As the top man you live and die by the sword and, as a result, you have to be able to make the key decisions. Geordan’s first one should be who comes in underneath him to help out with the defence, although interviews have already taken place and it remains to be seen whether it has been his choice.

The defensive issues were there under Matt O’Connor and it was made public that he was asked to bring in a new defence coach during the summer. That didn’t happen and it is finally happening now but the identity of the new face will be very interesting.

Dave Ellis, Brad Davis and Mike Ford are among the names that have been linked with the club.

Mike Ford

The worst thing Leicester could do is hire Ford because he will want to be head coach and Geordan will always be looking over his shoulder because of what happened at Bath.

Ellis is coaching at Kenilworth RFC in Midlands 2 West (South) at the moment, so it’s hard to see that as an ambitious appointment, but I worked with Davis at Wasps and he would be a great choice.

Geordan has been at the club for 21 years. He was a teenager when he arrived and it isn’t possible to care more for a club than he does for Tigers. The players owe him some big performances in the coming weeks now to show that they’re behind him and that they can lift the dark cloud that’s hanging over the club at the moment.

It used to be a minimum requirement to win a trophy every year at Leicester and the bare minimum is still to finish in the top four. They are only six points off fourth place in the Premiership, so that remains a possibility but things have to change quickly.

Conversely, they are just three points off the bottom of the table. As someone who played at the club for 10 years, it isn’t nice to see where they’re at right now and Geordan acknowledged after the defeat at Bristol that relegation is something that has to be on their radar if they continue to play this poorly.

The beauty of the Premiership this season is that both the top four and relegation are possibilities heading into the New Year. It’s a case of better late than never in terms of this announcement and now everyone can start working towards ensuring that they’re moving closer to the former and further away from the latter.

It has been mismanagement off the field that has led to the downward spiral Leicester are in. It’s going to take a lot of time to get them back to top of English rugby and there’ll a bit of pain along the way I think but Geordan Murphy has to have complete control if he’s to get them there.

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Murphy must be given complete control at Tigers - Andy Goode
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