Manly boss slams ‘rookie’ Barrett over club exit
MANLY chairman Scott Penn has fired a parting salvo at departing Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett for not acting "in the spirit of the club" and revealed the search was already well underway for his replacement.
Barrett is set for an uneasy final two games in charge at Brookvale, after Penn for the first time publicly confirmed The Daily Telegraph's report from last week that he had resigned from the club.
The Sea Eagles have already drawn up a short-list of possible replacements, but former coaches Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey aren't among them.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Manly will not risk another rookie coach, instead opting for a hardened, experienced leader. And they expect to make an announcement in the next three weeks from a list that includes Tim Sheens, Michael Maguire, John Cartwright and Neil Henry.
Barrett fronted media this morning to say he was disappointed with Penn's comments but hadn't spoken to the Sea Eagles co-owner about what he told the Telegraph. Barrett refused to comment on the issue further and said he would make a statement in the coming days.
Manly and Barrett are now in legal discussions about a potential payout, given under the terms of his resignation he is still bound to the club until next July.
The Sea Eagles privately believe Barrett resigned with two years to go on his contract because he was offered a job at a rival club, possibly Penrith, but the deal has since fallen through.
And the Silvertails won't consider taking Barrett back.
"We are deeply unhappy at what has transpired," Penn said. "There have been decisions made out of our control that aren't in the spirit of the club.
"I am very disappointed that we are here, that's the best way to describe it.
"I think that (accepting Barrett back) would be difficult, really difficult. We backed him the entire time. We would be crazy not to look at the market and look at who is available and what we need.
"And we are looking for proven performers, we are not in a position to back a rookie coach. We tried it, it had strong potential but it seemingly hasn't worked at this stage."
Frustratingly for fans, who watched their side capitulate 42-34 to the Gold Coast after leading 22-6, Manly took a week to confirm Barrett's looming departure.
"The fact is we are going through a legal case at the moment," Penn said.
"We are still in legal discussions around some of the details. I can't actually confirm specifics but it's been widely reported he has resigned.
"However, what I can comment on, is that, yes, if that's his intent, we will need a new coach. We need certainty for the future. That's what we are working on right now, where we go from here.
"We are looking everywhere (for a new coach). We have to give our members and fans certainty. We have to resolve it in the next couple of weeks, we want certainty over our coaching structure in the next two to three weeks. We have to get on with it."
The Barrett era at Brookvale will now end in 12 days after Manly's clash with the Wests Tigers on Thursday night at Campbelltown Stadium, and Sunday week's season-ending game against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
"I have always supported Trent," Penn said.
"We gave him a chance, his first go, because we saw a character we wanted to bring to the club. We have certainly had success in patches.
"This year hasn't been where we wanted it to be but there have been a variety of reasons for that."
Hasler won two premierships at Manly in 2008 and 2011 during a highly successful stint but Penn remains upset at the circumstances surrounding his departure in 2012.
"We were absolutely not happy about how it transpired," Penn said. "He (Hasler) took the whole coaching staff with him. Did that leave a bitter taste? Absolutely. Is that recoverable? Time has passed but there are still wounds there."
Penn said Manly's next coach must show how he can lift the club from its current doldrums - and show respect toward the Sea Eagles brand.
"We have to analyse why we are here. As a club, there have been a few issues that shouldn't have happened. I think we can firm up the edge in terms of discipline and respect for the club," Penn said.
"That needs to be reinforced. Whoever takes the role needs to make sure they are respecting the club's values and where the club should be. We just need to get the right person in there to get the players the confidence they need. It's not a talent issue, it's a confidence issue."
Penn confirmed he had "sounded out the market" without making any formal approach to a coach for next season.
"To see who is available and to see who is around," he said.
Manly CEO Lyall Gorman met with the club's senior players to discuss the coaching situation.
At that meeting, it is understood Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans committed to being at Brookvale long-term.
"Lyall cleared the air on a number of things and it was quite clear there isn't an issue (with Cherry-Evans)," Penn said.
"There were a few things where the record needed to be set and now that's done, Cherry is very comfortable and we're very comfortable with him.
Penn said he was "ropeable" at accusations his family had "given up" on Manly.
"What stings the most is that we're not trying and that we've taken our eye off the ball. That couldn't be further from the truth. Lyall and I speak multiple times a day. We are absolutely working 24-7 to turn this around," Penn said.
"This isn't panic stations, we're not far away. That's the thing that's been most disappointing. It's as if the club is in crisis. It's not. We have a strong network of sponsors, the board has never been more aligned, we have promising things happening at Lottoland and we have a really talented squad.
"Hopefully we can resolve the salary cap issue in the next couple of months and therefore have a clear view on our recruiting for the future. We're not far away.
"We're not where we want to be and are absolutely committed to taking the club to where it should be. This club is one of the most successful clubs of the modern era and has a proud history."