SAINTS Chairman, Eamonn McManus, wrote in the Manchester Evening News today:
I must admit that the recent defeats by Wigan and Leeds were as upsetting to me personally as anything I’ve experienced in the fourteen years of my very proud chairmanship of the Saints.
It was the manner and timing of our defeats that hurt so much. We just seemed to be out-enthused as much as outplayed. Prior to that we had played so well and fought hard in nine consecutive victories since the season started. But the Wigan and Leeds games were of much greater importance being against our bitter rivals and required our game to be raised further. We didn’t do that which is why it is so difficult to deal with – but deal with it we absolutely must!
Although I am a lifelong Saints fan and rugby league nut, which is the only reason I’m involved in the sport, it is always essential that I carry out my role as Chairman in a dignified and professional manner. I am always conscious that I am a senior standard bearer of my club, my sport and my town. After very game I visit the dressing room briefly to shake the hand of every player in congratulation or in commiseration and likewise with the coaching staff. I never offer a view or opinion at that time as emotions are often running too high, or too low. And more importantly, I totally believe that THAT must be the job and the domain of the coach whose authority must be absolute at all times over players.
So, what I do is wait for a couple of days and then meet up over a coffee with our coach Nathan Brown and our CEO Mike Rush to have a clear- headed debrief in the cold light of day and to plan ahead. Although I must admit that this time my head is still not quite clear!
We now have a fabulous and plush new stadium at St. Helens as well as world class training facilities – a far cry from the very basic environment of Knowsley Road which produced generations of warrior athletes who have gone down in rugby league history. It was said of the British navy at the end of the Nineteenth century that iron men in wooden boats were replaced by wooden men in iron boats. It’s my job to ensure that this doesn’t now happen to us after the move from Knowsley Road to Langtree Park.
As disappointing as this very short period has been, I firmly believe we have the talent and the will to win the main prize of Super League – the Grand Final. We have to grind our way through the next five months and then raise our game to the required heights in the play offs. It is all about mindset and timing. The key to success now is that we learn all we can from these recent defeats and ensure that, when it really counts, we perform better and at a higher level.
A win against London Broncos tonight would be the first small step in that process and I’m sure that our fans will continue to get behind us in the brilliant way that they have all this season.