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John Worsfold hits back at AFL ’low-cost photographs’

Besieged Essendon coach John Worsfold has bristled at “cheap shots” from AFL critics, insisting he is constantly evolving to get the best out of his players.

The injury-ravaged Bombers’ finals hopes hang in the balance after last week’s deplorable 104-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, where Worsfold came under fire for his lack of emotion while coaching from the bench.

Worsfold has never been a particularly animated figure in 16 years as a senior coach, but club great Tim Watson said it would have angered fans to watch his lack of visible response as their team conceded 21 straight goals.

“People can target me on that but that’s pretty shallow,” Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday.

“Has anyone looked back at the whole 110 minutes of what I’m doing? I was in constant communication with the coaches’ box, constantly supporting the players, challenging them and talking through it.

“There were parts of the game – I can’t talk nonstop – where I sat quietly and they’ve been highlighted. It’s a cheap shot, but that’s fine.”

John Worsfold was criticised for his apparent lack of action during Essendon’s horror loss to the Western Bulldogs in round 20.John Worsfold was criticised for his apparent lack of action during Essendon’s horror loss to the Western Bulldogs in round 20.
Camera IconJohn Worsfold was criticised for his apparent lack of action during Essendon’s horror loss to the Western Bulldogs in round 20.Picture: AAPIMAGE

The Bombers sit seventh on the ladder ahead of Saturday’s clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium.

Another slip-up could prove fatal to their finals chances given they face Collingwood in round 23.

Worsfold is contracted for next season but conjecture about his future intensified when he was spotted dining with club chief executive Xavier Campbell on Monday.

“We talked about our families, we talked about footy,” said Worsfold, who was cagey on whether they had discussed his coaching future.

“The speculation is fine. The reality is we’ve played two poor games coming off a really good six or seven weeks of footy.

“The reality is that I’m contracted for next year, and I’m fully committed to this footy club and enjoying the challenge of getting the group to where we want to go to.”

Essendon risks missing finals after conceding 21 consecutive goals against the Bulldogs.Essendon risks missing finals after conceding 21 consecutive goals against the Bulldogs.
Camera IconEssendon risks missing finals after conceding 21 consecutive goals against the Bulldogs.Picture: AAPIMAGE

Worsfold said he had evolved significantly as a coach since his days at West Coast, where he led the Eagles to a premiership in 2006.

“Our responsibility to get the best out of the group and out of individuals, absolutely it’s constantly changing,” he said.

“It’s very contextual. It’s week to week. But overall it’s about keeping them focused on where they want to get to.

“We don’t want to sit down and say we were a poor team last week and constantly remind ourselves of that.”

Worsfold expected Darcy Parish, Aaron Francis and potentially Michael Hurley to be available to face the Dockers.

Jake Stringer remains in doubt after suffering hamstring soreness, while Dyson Heppell and Orazio Fantasia continue to manage injuries.

AAP

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