Nathan Brown’s departure from Huddersfield yesterday didn’t come as a huge surprise. In fact, the only surprise for some was that it didn’t happen sooner. The Giants have declined markedly since their impressive early-season form – they were top of the league in April but have lost eight of their last nine matches. With Brown due to take up a new position at St Helens at the end of the season the pressure must have mounted on the club to part company with their coach earlier than planned.
Brown’s departure comes after the Giants suffered a woeful 52-6 defeat at Castleford Tigers – a club itself struggling this season – and a 33-6 Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Warrington, after which Brown publicly complained about the players forcing a change in tactics.
While Brown didn’t want to leave Huddersfield – in yesterday’s League Express he claims that, “leaving early has never crossed my mind, whether we have been winning or losing” – his early departure from the Galpharm Stadium seems like the best thing to have happened for all concerned.
It seems that levels of unhappiness and dissatisfaction among the players had become too much for the coach to handle. Brown claims that the players “didn’t want to play our attacking structure any more”, and that he was forced to change tactics in the week ahead of the semi-final. Without delving into who might be to blame in such a situation, perhaps the only solution is for the coach to leave – especially when he effectively blames his players for a defeat by telling the press he was forced into accepting tactics he disagreed with.
Brown will now have the opportunity to clear his head and have a longer period of rest than he would have if he’d stayed until the end of the season – that is, unless he takes up his position at St Helens within the next few weeks. Even so, he’s free from the pressure of coaching unhappy players and having to prove to the squad, the board and the fans that he hasn’t already got one eye on his next appointment.
This is probably the best thing as well for Brown’s successor Paul Anderson. While the job of coaching the Giants out of their current decline is no easy one, there will probably be less pressure on the new coach. Say, for example, Brown had succeeded in leading Huddersfield to Wembley or Old Trafford – then the pressure would have been on Anderson from the very beginning of next season to replicate the Australian’s success. As things stand Anderson will probably satisfy the board and the supporters if he can deliver a few wins and a play-off place. Anderson’s taking over early could also make for a better start to the 2013 season, as he can begin the season with a few months’ experience of being the head coach.
For the club as a whole, Brown’s departure is the opportunity to dig themselves out of a rut and arrest their slip in form. A change in coach often provokes a reaction in the players – James Roby says that the sacking of Royce Simmons was a signal to the St Helens players that things needed to change. This can be a fresh start for the Huddersfield players, who can avoid slipping down the take still further and aim for a place in the Super League play-offs.
Speaking of St Helens, this situation could benefit them as well. It could mean that Brown can start work on preparing for 2013 with Saints earlier than expected, or even that he could take charge of the side going into the play-offs. The question is whether Brown taking charge before the end of the season would be a boost to Saints’ Grand Final aspirations or whether it would cause unwanted disruption at Langtree Park. That’s for Eamonn McManus to decide, but Brown being free of his Huddersfield obligations will likely benefit St Helens going into the 2013 season.
It’s not usually a good thing for a coach to be removed from his position especially in mid-season, but taking everything into account Nathan Brown’s departure from Huddersfield does seem to benefit all the interested parties. Huddersfield can try to resuscitate their season, Paul Anderson can start his new job with less pressure and enters 2013 with a few months’ experience, Saints get their man earlier than expected, and whether he takes charge at Langtree Park sooner or later Brown is freed from his obligations and can make a new start.
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