‘Pinocchio, lies’: ex-Demons slam former coach
FORMER Melbourne coach Mark Neeld said he was happy to see the Demons back in the finals, as he opened up on his controversial decision to name a pair of young captains during a tumultuous 18 months at the club.
Neeld was hired in 2012 with a mandate to clean out the Demons and invest in youth, but was sacked halfway through the next season after winning just one game from the first 11 rounds - and five of 33 overall.
His dumping of veteran Brad Green as captain and appointment of then-22-year-old Jack Grimes and Jack Trengove, then 21, as co-captains was a source of major scorn.
But Neeld said the decision was made by the playing group, after a three-month exercise where each player articulated "the behaviours they wanted on a consistent basis on the training track, during matches (and) off the field".
"To me, it was a clear statement by the player group as to the type of person and the type of actions they wanted to lead, that's what it came down to," he said on Fox Footy's Open Mike tonight.
"If you go back to the players, and you say that after three months of going through a process that spoke about actions, behaviours what you want in a leader, they'll know who they rated.
"If you go in there and say well it's actually these four players and it's not the ones that they went for, how do you handle that situation?
"Can you actually look them in the eye and give them that feedback?"
However, Neeld's version of events didn't sit well with Green, who posted on his Twitter account last night, Open Mike with Mark Neeld #pinocchio.
Green wasn't the only one to take issue with Neeld's comments.
Former player Brent Moloney also weighed in, accusing Neeld of lying.
"There was no leadership vote? It was picked by the coaches and Cam Schwab," Moloney wrote on his Instagram account.
"It was part of their big five year plan!!! How can you sit there on national television and lie through your teeth? This is your chance to redeem yourself and say you made a few mistakes.
"It really just shows the type of character we were dealing with!! I couldn't even watch it. Anyways, on to bigger and better things this Friday night."
Neeld said he wasn't shocked when the axe fell after round 11, given chief executive Cameron Schwab resigned in April of 2012 - two years into a four-year deal - and then-president Don McLardy stood down two months later.
"I always thought it was going to be a long-term project and I was really clear on how I wanted the group to play … (but) there was always going to be perhaps a dip in the second year, due to the clean-out," Neeld said.
"I was confident that … we were on the right track.
"When Cameron Schwab was removed as CEO, there was a shifting of ideas.
"Cameron was fantastic in supporting, saying this is going to be a long-term proposition, 'we're going to go ahead and the list is going to be culled, go with the young kids, it's going well I can see things changing'.
"When key personnel get removed, there's a little bit of 'oh, hang on, I wonder how this is going to go'.
"So it wasn't a complete shock."
Neeld says he's pleased to see the Demons back in the finals after 12 years in the wilderness.
"In my time in the AFL, I've met some great people and there are still a number of people at Melbourne, on the field and off the field, that I've got good relationships with, shared some really tough times with. I'm pleased for them," he said.