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Football coaches under the pump in 2017

AAP logoAAP 4/01/2017 By Warwick Barr

A GUIDE TO THE COACHES UNDER MOST PRESSURE IN AFL, NRL, SOCCER AND RUGBY UNION IN 2017.

AFL

NATHAN BUCKLEY

Buckley was asked last August about his chances of remaining Collingwood coach if they failed to make the finals against this year. "There's no way", was his candid response. Since Buckley took over in 2012, the Magpies have slipped steadily down the ladder and have missed the top eight for the last three seasons. The first two months of the season will probably tell their story, with games against all four 2016 preliminary finalists.

DAMIEN HARDWICK

Three-straight elimination final losses meant the heat was on Richmond last year and they went backwards. The Tigers only won eight games - their worst return since 2011. The recruiting of Neil Balme as football manager should help Hardwick. Balme is one of the AFL's top football department bosses.

NRL

PAUL McGREGOR

The howls of St George Illawarra fans can only be ignored for so long if the Dragons again miss the finals. The Red V have ranked 15th in attack during McGregor's two seasons in charge at the club. McGregor is also off-contract at the end of the year and his hopes have taken an early blow with expected halves contender Drew Hutchison ruled out for the season.

DES HASLER

It's hard to believe a coach that has guided his teams to the past 12 finals series finds himself under pressure. Hasler's future was the subject of an emergency meeting last year at Belmore, which led to club legend Steve Mortimer stepping down from the board. Bulldogs fans have growntired of the team's stilted structure and Hasler may need something close to the first premiership of his five-year tenure to stay.

A-LEAGUE

GUILLERMO AMOR

The man who brought Adelaide its first championship last season is now favourite to be the A-League's next unemployed coach after a deplorable start to their title defence. Just one win in 13 matches has United rock bottom of the league. The Barcelona legend has already served a touchline ban this season for contact with a referee. Is he feeling the heat or finding his way?

TONY POPOVIC

Like Amor, Popovic took his side to last season's grand final but now finds himself in the muck. The ex-Socceroo defender's tenure wasn't questioned through the 2014/15 season when the club finished a point clear of the wooden spoon due to their incredible continental success. But two wins from Western Sydney's first half of this campaign isn't good enough and the coach knows it. That's why Popovic is desperate for a new striker in the January transfer window to turn his fortunes around.

RUGBY UNION

MICHAEL CHEIKA

A sorry 2016 record of six wins from 15 Tests and dropping one spot to third in the world rankings sapped the feelgood factor surrounding Wallabies coach Cheika after his team's run to the 2015 World Cup final. To satisfy fans he must also show his team can genuinely compete with the All Blacks when the annual Bledisloe Cup litmus test rolls around.

DARYL GIBSON

The NSW Rugby Union are not overly renowned for patience with coaches and are unlikely to look kindly on Gibson if the Waratahs miss the Super Rugby finals for a second straight year.

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