Why title drought shouldn’t condemn Eels coach

Premiership-winning coach Phil Gould says Brad Arthur’s time at Parramatta has been a success, despite so far failing to deliver a long-awaited title.

The Eels haven’t tasted grand final success since 1986, and more remarkably haven’t played in a preliminary final since 2009, the longest drought of any team in the competition.

Arthur is contracted to the club until the end of 2024, but his future has been clouded by reports his management had shopped him around to other clubs for 2023.

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For his part, Arthur says he has no plans to leave the Eels. He’s coached the club since 2014 and last season joined Brian Smith as the only two men with more than 200 games in charge of the Eels.

“You’d call his tenure a success, by modern day standards his tenure is a success,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.

“You can’t measure everything just by who wins the premiership. There’s not one winner and 15 losers at the end of the season.

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“People succeed in varying degrees. Brad Arthur has been a success at Parramatta.”

Gould pointed out that the Eels almost eliminated eventual premier Penrith in week two of the finals last season, noting that in slightly different circumstances it could have been Parramatta lifting the Provan-Summons Trophy.

“Last year they were beaten (by) two points by the Panthers, their dummy half didn’t play, Reed Mahoney (and) they were beaten on an innocuous penalty (for a Shaun Lane high tackle) before half time,” he explained .

“If anyone knew that that penalty was going to decide the match they would never have given the penalty. If he clocked him on the chin like that in the last minute no way he’d have given the penalty, but no-one knew before half time that was going to be the winning score.

“That’s the way it ended up, they could have easily gone on to win last year, they just didn’t have their time.

“I don’t see not winning comps as a failure for a coach or a club. The frustration for a club like Parramatta, who went through a golden era in the 1980s, is they haven’t won since 1986.

“They have been in position to win a few since then, the fact they haven’t won them doesn’t mean those eras failed.”

There’s a theory that Parramatta’s premiership window will close after this season, with a host of big names set to depart, including hooker Reed Mahoney and back rower Isaiah Papali’i.

The Eels have made the finals in four of the last five years, results that Gould feels are a fair reflection on Arthur.

“Is it his fault they haven’t won a premiership? I don’t think so,” Gould said.

“The question is, if Brad Arthur was coaching the Melbourne Storm or the Penrith Panthers or the Roosters, would their results have been different?

“If Trent Robinson was coaching Parramatta or Craig Bellamy was coaching Parramatta do you think the results have been different? No.”

“What’s the failure? The fact they didn’t win a premiership? That’s not a failure,” Gould added.

“Have you looked at the sides he was playing against?

“Why does success have to be measured on whether or not he has the gold medal?

“You mean to tell me at the Olympics the block with the silver or bronze medal, who finished half a meter away from the champion isn’t a success?”

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