Being under pressure is a natural part of being an AFL coach and 2019 is a year where the majority of them are under greater scrutiny than they faced in 2018.
Whether there’s no longer any excuses about whether the team should be contending or simply a number of years of underperformance, some coaches could find themselves in the gun if things go poorly.
Conversely, a pair of coaches who would’ve ranked at number one at stages of the last three years find themselves right at the bottom.
From least pressure to most, here’s all 18 club coaches ranked.
18. Adam Simpson (West Coast)
The Eagles just won the flag in a year where many didn’t think they would make the eight.
Adam Simpson can, figuratively speaking, put his feet up.
17. Alastair Clarkson (Hawthorn)
Alastair Clarkson has re-invented this Hawthorn team multiple times in the last few years and has put himself in the greatest AFL coach of all-time discussion.
Clarkson is under pressure to get this Hawks side back into final, but his job is not under threat you’d imagine.
16. Stuart Dew (Gold Coast)
The expectations for the Gold Coast in 2019 are so unbelievably low that if Dew and this team dodge the wooden spoon, they may get a pass mark.
Champion Data ranked the Suns’ list as having the worst midfield, forward line and defensive group in the competition – an unwanted trifecta.
Dew can now mould this team however he likes and barring catastrophe, it’s hard to see him coming under fire.
15. Nathan Buckley (Collingwood)
Nathan Buckley is another coach whose job is safe in 2019 unless the Magpies completely fall apart.
Buckley went through the fire in 2017 and emerged stronger from it, leading Collingwood to the 2018 Grand Final.
They’ve added Dayne Beams and should be around the finals mark again next year.
14. Damien Hardwick (Richmond)
Damian Hardwick only recently brought a premiership to Punt Road; he isn’t going anywhere.
The Tigers will be under pressure given their Preliminary Final meltdown and the addition of Tom Lynch, but even if they miss the eight, Hardwick’s job is not under threat.
13. Brad Scott (North Melbourne)
North Melbourne was expected to be in the bottom four in 2018, but proved tough to beat and barely missed finals.
Brad Scott seems entrenched at North Melbourne and it appears he’ll be their guy for a long time.
The Roos aren’t necessarily expected to play finals in 2019, but have recruited with that aim and should be in the middle of the pack.
12. Chris Fagan (Brisbane)
Chris Fagan finds himself under a bit of pressure simply because expectations are now starting to develop for his Brisbane side.
He’s done an excellent job getting them in this position and it’s now expected that they start winning games and climbing the ladder.
Fagan is under pressure in 2019 to deliver results; his job, however, is not at risk.
11. John Longmire (Sydney)
John Longmire’s record with Sydney is fantastic, sitting at 117-54 since 2011.
Some Swans fans are getting frustrated with the way the team plays and former St Kilda midfielder Nick Dal Santo doesn’t think they can win the premiership the way they’re playing, but Longmire remains safe.
The Swans simply aren’t an organisation that makes rash decisions.
10. Luke Beveridge (Western Bulldogs)
The Western Bulldogs won the 2016 premiership and have missed finals in successive years since.
Usually, you’d think this would put the club’s coach at the top of a list like this, but Beveridge and the Bulldogs seem to be on the right track.
They had the youngest list in the competition last year and have put together one of the best midfielders in the competition.
9. Simon Goodwin (Melbourne)
Simon Goodwin broke Melbourne’s drought of finals appearances and even managed to get them into a Prelim.
They should be among those contending for the flag in 2019 and with that comes pressure to perform.
8. Leon Cameron (GWS)
Leon Cameron is a coach perennially under pressure considering the talent exiting the club year after year.
The Giants are still among those in the premiership hunt, but if things go wrong and they miss the eight Cameron’s job will be under greater scrutiny than the likes of Longmire and Goodwin.
7. Chris Scott (Geelong)
Chris Scott has re-signed with Geelong through to the end of 2022. Job-wise, he’s not going anywhere.
However, his Cats stagnated in 2018 despite adding Gary Ablett and a first-year star in Tim Kelly.
They finished eighth, and another mediocre year could see fans start to question the club’s direction.
6. John Worsfold (Essendon)
The Bombers re-signed John Worsfold at the start of the 2018 season, right before the club went through quite a rocky period.
They steadied the ship and finished the year strong, but missed the finals.
Everything this club has done indicates they want to be a contender in 2019 and another year missing the eight would put a lot of pressure on Worsfold. You can’t have a fairy-tale comback if you don’t come back.
5. Ross Lyon (Fremantle)
Fremantle supporters are starting to tire of the Ross Lyon era, but it would appear the club still wants him to be their guy long-term.
The Dockers have been stuck down the bottom for a few years now, and another year of his defensive style could have fans calling for a change.
New Head of Football Peter Bell showed an aggression during the trade period to bring in attacking players and it’s reasonable to assume he will bring a different perspective in 2019.
4. Brendon Bolton (Carlton)
If Carlton has another two-win season, will Brendon Bolton still be Carlton coach come 2020? It’s hard to know.
The Blues and Bolton won’t be expected to make finals or even jump out of the bottom four, but another year of poor results would put the coach well-and-truly ion the hot-seat.
3. Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)
Port Adelaide fell out of the eight very quickly last year – they need to rebound in 2019.
Ken Hinkley and the Power recruited like a club with premiership aspirations in 2017, but fell well short. Their trade and draft period was much more conservative in 2018.
Regardless, it may be finals or bust for Port next year.
2. Don Pyke (Adelaide)
After making the 2017 Grand Final, the Crows missed the eight and were plagued by off-field drama.
Players were seemingly quite distressed by the pre-season camp and this culminated in a mid-year press conference from Pyke and Brett Burton to explain what happened and where the club was at.
Both Pyke and Burton could find themselves under extreme pressure if they can’t prove they’ve won back the playing group and take this talented side back to finals.
1. Alan Richardson (St Kilda)
No coach is under more pressure in 2019 than Alan Richardson.
The Saints were expected to be among those challenging for the top eight last season, but it was quickly clear they weren’t climbing out of the bottom four.
Richardson doesn’t have to clear a tangible bar to keep his job next year, but another poor performance all-round from the Saints and we could see a mid-season coaching change.