Dan’s Not the Man.

Talk about the men in white, and everything Ulster!!

Moderator: Moderators

ljsulster
Novice
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2021 4:50 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by ljsulster »

Columbo wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 11:37 pm I think that this ‘player revolt / toxicity’ thing is a bit overblown. From what I’ve heard toxicity, to the extent there was any in camp, came from the top - and in fact I don’t really like that word although I’ve probably been guilty of using it in the past myself about McFarland / Ulster.

Others probably know more about this than I do, but what I’ve heard is that McF has always been hard-nosed and a bit of a disciplinarian - shouting at guys, sending them back to the changing rooms if they don’t do exactly what he says, stuff like that. Given the state Ulster were in when he came, a bit of discipline around the camp wasn’t a bad thing necessarily, and there was buy-in to the ‘fight for every inch’ stuff. Of the assistant coaches, what I heard is that Payne would have stood his ground, and tried to guard his territory, while McF walked over the others. When you’re winning this sort of stuff is no big deal, there are many ways to skin a cat, and while he was always a bit of a domineering character, it wasn’t much out of the ordinary for a rugby coach.

But whenever what you’re doing stops getting results, then the kind of bully-boy stuff which was previously tolerated can wear thin pretty quickly. And after Payne left it was the full-on Dan show - nobody doubts his work ethic and his response to things going wrong seemed to be to try to take more influence himself. Whatever happened last season it didn’t work, and on the pitch you can probably trace it down to the red card for Leinster, when Ulster just froze, then the nilling in Sale. Those were kind of shocking games to watch, even though we’d had some bad results before under Dan, something seemed to have caved in.

What I heard back then and over the next few months was that morale absolutely hit the floor, and the camp was just grim and chaotic. ‘Worst it’s ever been’ from a player who’d been there for years and seen plenty of chaos… Because it was such a brad pitt-show, some players did start to mouth off more openly - about things not working, complaining about not being given games, about needing to try different things. I don’t really want to name names, but Gilroy isn’t one that I heard, although I think he was disappointed not to get a contract extension. The guys who were most vocal were guys with not much left to lose anyway because their contracts were up, as I understand it. The fundamental problem though was that Dan was a control freak, had dominated the whole set-up and then when it stopped working and he didn’t seem to have any answers, he lost credibility and some authority - and everyone was miserable, so there was some chirping.

But to go from that to a ‘toxic player power’ problem is way OTT - in fact I would argue that there isn’t enough player power in Ulster’s squad in terms of leaders.
I heard from quite a renowned ex player turned pundit that Marcus Rea was one of the ones who was quite vocal about things not working and changes needed to be made, especially after the Connacht away victory despite the win. Look how that went for him selection wise
CIMANFOREVER
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:16 pm
Location: The Dufferin

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by CIMANFOREVER »

Columbo, what you've outlined is pretty much a toxic working relationship. Player power didn't get DF removed, results or lack of them did.
The tailspin snowballed pretty quickly in recent months. But some of the senior players should also shoulder the blame as the dust settles.

Did anyone approach DF et Al as a player leadership group and say we've got to work collaboratively to fight our way out of this? Your approach is counter productive? No idea- Or did it just fracture? For certain we'll get a dozen different perspectives dependent on level of grievance and never get to all of the root causes. Some on here may have some insight from contacts. The Gilroy angle Id heard from someone who knows him personally. You take it all at face value/ pinch of salt- unless you're in the dressing room, the truth is malleable.
Exterminate all rational thought
justinr73
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 5777
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by justinr73 »

Things never tend to end well and I guess it’s frequently six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Until the last few games, I’d always got the impression that the players were still giving it 100% on the park and when it looked like that had changed then the IRFU seem to have acted decisively.

If some of the players had moved as quickly against Toulouse as they did to get to the pub afterwards then we may not have shipped nearly fifty points.

They looked a lot less disappointed than me.
justinr73
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 5777
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by justinr73 »

And since when was Marcus Rea the greatest judge of a coach anyway?

At least Gilroy got a few Ireland caps.
Marco
Novice
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:59 am

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by Marco »

Dan’s time was up, no shame in that, my only criticism is that he let it drag on, for me the 6 game losing streak in Dec ‘22/Jan ‘23 was the time to walk. I had the same myself in the business world, when people stop making eye contact with you is a sure sign, you’ve lost them and move on, for your own sake (and your family’s) as much as the organisation. But i will always come back to the players and their responsibilities ever as well, living the young man’s dream of professional sport, well paid, yet I see RB and WA literally being bounced by a Connacht flanker (literally inches from touch), then BB having his hole handed to him by Lynagh, etc etc, the coach has nothing to do with that, that’s all commitment and attitude. Jackman is right, the Ulster role is one of the top cub rugby jobs in Europe, Fanning is probably ranting but if Foster is a possibility, bring him in and talk with him, can you imagine for a second any player falling off a tackle and then walking past Fossy!
User avatar
Kofi Annan
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 6920
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:10 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by Kofi Annan »

Columbo wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 11:37 pm I think that this ‘player revolt / toxicity’ thing is a bit overblown. From what I’ve heard toxicity, to the extent there was any in camp, came from the top - and in fact I don’t really like that word although I’ve probably been guilty of using it in the past myself about McFarland / Ulster.

Others probably know more about this than I do, but what I’ve heard is that McF has always been hard-nosed and a bit of a disciplinarian - shouting at guys, sending them back to the changing rooms if they don’t do exactly what he says, stuff like that. Given the state Ulster were in when he came, a bit of discipline around the camp wasn’t a bad thing necessarily, and there was buy-in to the ‘fight for every inch’ stuff. Of the assistant coaches, what I heard is that Payne would have stood his ground, and tried to guard his territory, while McF walked over the others. When you’re winning this sort of stuff is no big deal, there are many ways to skin a cat, and while he was always a bit of a domineering character, it wasn’t much out of the ordinary for a rugby coach.

But whenever what you’re doing stops getting results, then the kind of bully-boy stuff which was previously tolerated can wear thin pretty quickly. And after Payne left it was the full-on Dan show - nobody doubts his work ethic and his response to things going wrong seemed to be to try to take more influence himself. Whatever happened last season it didn’t work, and on the pitch you can probably trace it down to the red card for Leinster, when Ulster just froze, then the nilling in Sale. Those were kind of shocking games to watch, even though we’d had some bad results before under Dan, something seemed to have caved in.

What I heard back then and over the next few months was that morale absolutely hit the floor, and the camp was just grim and chaotic. ‘Worst it’s ever been’ from a player who’d been there for years and seen plenty of chaos… Because it was such a brad pitt-show, some players did start to mouth off more openly - about things not working, complaining about not being given games, about needing to try different things. I don’t really want to name names, but Gilroy isn’t one that I heard, although I think he was disappointed not to get a contract extension. The guys who were most vocal were guys with not much left to lose anyway because their contracts were up, as I understand it. The fundamental problem though was that Dan was a control freak, had dominated the whole set-up and then when it stopped working and he didn’t seem to have any answers, he lost credibility and some authority - and everyone was miserable, so there was some chirping.

But to go from that to a ‘toxic player power’ problem is way OTT - in fact I would argue that there isn’t enough player power in Ulster’s squad in terms of leaders.
Pretty accurate above , Gilroy is now playing at his level , and with Bangor heading towards relegation he may get more money at Holywood ,

McFarland did not go off into the night quietly!
“For the liespotter who knows how to listen well, the random words, sounds, and phrases in a person's speech are never as random as they seem. They offer a clear sightline into the liar's psyche.”
justinr73
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 5777
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by justinr73 »

Good for him.

There was certainly plenty of colour in his cheeks during that interview in Swansea!

As pointed out above, Dan was frustratingly close to real success.

That final defensive set at the Stormers was his Les Kiss/Lutton/Glasgow sliding doors moment.
User avatar
Dave
Rí­ na Cúige Uladh
Posts: 24578
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 4:27 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by Dave »

justinr73 wrote:And since when was Marcus Rea the greatest judge of a coach anyway?

At least Gilroy got a few Ireland caps.
What did he say?
I have my own tv channel, what have you got?
CIMANFOREVER
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:16 pm
Location: The Dufferin

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by CIMANFOREVER »

justinr73 wrote: Thu Feb 22, 2024 12:45 am Things never tend to end well and I guess it’s frequently six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Until the last few games, I’d always got the impression that the players were still giving it 100% on the park and when it looked like that had changed then the IRFU seem to have acted decisively.

If some of the players had moved as quickly against Toulouse as they did to get to the pub afterwards then we may not have shipped nearly fifty points.

They looked a lot less disappointed than me.
There is no doubt it appears some of our players lack a Professional attitude- whilst there's the commercial aspect of signings autographs, interviews etc I got the impression some hammerings were greeted with fleeting disappointment in some quarters, and a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders as if they are impervious to shouldering some of the blame. The smiley stuff really galls me if I'm honest- especially in these straightened times supporters are paying good money home and away to have the Cr#p that's been served up whilst players give the impression they're untouchable and in sinecures.
I may be being unfair...
Exterminate all rational thought
CIMANFOREVER
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:16 pm
Location: The Dufferin

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by CIMANFOREVER »

Kofi Annan wrote: Thu Feb 22, 2024 9:16 am
Columbo wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 11:37 pm I think that this ‘player revolt / toxicity’ thing is a bit overblown. From what I’ve heard toxicity, to the extent there was any in camp, came from the top - and in fact I don’t really like that word although I’ve probably been guilty of using it in the past myself about McFarland / Ulster.

Others probably know more about this than I do, but what I’ve heard is that McF has always been hard-nosed and a bit of a disciplinarian - shouting at guys, sending them back to the changing rooms if they don’t do exactly what he says, stuff like that. Given the state Ulster were in when he came, a bit of discipline around the camp wasn’t a bad thing necessarily, and there was buy-in to the ‘fight for every inch’ stuff. Of the assistant coaches, what I heard is that Payne would have stood his ground, and tried to guard his territory, while McF walked over the others. When you’re winning this sort of stuff is no big deal, there are many ways to skin a cat, and while he was always a bit of a domineering character, it wasn’t much out of the ordinary for a rugby coach.

But whenever what you’re doing stops getting results, then the kind of bully-boy stuff which was previously tolerated can wear thin pretty quickly. And after Payne left it was the full-on Dan show - nobody doubts his work ethic and his response to things going wrong seemed to be to try to take more influence himself. Whatever happened last season it didn’t work, and on the pitch you can probably trace it down to the red card for Leinster, when Ulster just froze, then the nilling in Sale. Those were kind of shocking games to watch, even though we’d had some bad results before under Dan, something seemed to have caved in.

What I heard back then and over the next few months was that morale absolutely hit the floor, and the camp was just grim and chaotic. ‘Worst it’s ever been’ from a player who’d been there for years and seen plenty of chaos… Because it was such a brad pitt-show, some players did start to mouth off more openly - about things not working, complaining about not being given games, about needing to try different things. I don’t really want to name names, but Gilroy isn’t one that I heard, although I think he was disappointed not to get a contract extension. The guys who were most vocal were guys with not much left to lose anyway because their contracts were up, as I understand it. The fundamental problem though was that Dan was a control freak, had dominated the whole set-up and then when it stopped working and he didn’t seem to have any answers, he lost credibility and some authority - and everyone was miserable, so there was some chirping.

But to go from that to a ‘toxic player power’ problem is way OTT - in fact I would argue that there isn’t enough player power in Ulster’s squad in terms of leaders.
Pretty accurate above , Gilroy is now playing at his level , and with Bangor heading towards relegation he may get more money at Holywood ,

McFarland did not go off into the night quietly!
Sorry Kofi are you talking about his last TV interview or a response to UR on his exit from the club?

Whilst DF shoulders a significant portion of the blame, in fairness as we've all outlined, the rot runs much deeper- so if he had a go at the UR hierarchy , I'm good with that- I hope more join him, but I suspect he's the sacrifice.
Exterminate all rational thought
Bart S
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 4323
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:48 am

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by Bart S »

Who is the guy Steve Beacom writing in the Bel Tele about this? He's basically branding McFarland as a complete failure which I disagree with. He took the basket case to a number of agonising near misses against good teams. His failure was to not kick on from there and ultimately regress in alarming fashion and indeed the last 12 months or so were very poor. However, this guy just seems to have written everything off from his tenure as a failure whilst offering nothing else in terms of solutions or wider accountability.
Jetstream
Squire
Posts: 796
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:44 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by Jetstream »

Bart S wrote: Thu Feb 22, 2024 2:07 pm Who is the guy Steve Beacom writing in the Bel Tele about this? He's basically branding McFarland as a complete failure which I disagree with. He took the basket case to a number of agonising near misses against good teams. His failure was to not kick on from there and ultimately regress in alarming fashion and indeed the last 12 months or so were very poor. However, this guy just seems to have written everything off from his tenure as a failure whilst offering nothing else in terms of solutions or wider accountability.
As far as I am aware he is a soccer writer who would not know a golf ball from a rugby ball.
justinr73
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 5777
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by justinr73 »

Bart S wrote: Thu Feb 22, 2024 2:07 pm Who is the guy Steve Beacom writing in the Bel Tele about this? He's basically branding McFarland as a complete failure which I disagree with. He took the basket case to a number of agonising near misses against good teams. His failure was to not kick on from there and ultimately regress in alarming fashion and indeed the last 12 months or so were very poor. However, this guy just seems to have written everything off from his tenure as a failure whilst offering nothing else in terms of solutions or wider accountability.
Think he’s the Sports Editor who specialises in NI football ergo he knows nothing about elite performance.
User avatar
Columbo
Squire
Posts: 792
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:56 pm

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by Columbo »

CIMANFOREVER wrote:
justinr73 wrote: Thu Feb 22, 2024 12:45 am Things never tend to end well and I guess it’s frequently six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Until the last few games, I’d always got the impression that the players were still giving it 100% on the park and when it looked like that had changed then the IRFU seem to have acted decisively.

If some of the players had moved as quickly against Toulouse as they did to get to the pub afterwards then we may not have shipped nearly fifty points.

They looked a lot less disappointed than me.
There is no doubt it appears some of our players lack a Professional attitude- whilst there's the commercial aspect of signings autographs, interviews etc I got the impression some hammerings were greeted with fleeting disappointment in some quarters, and a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders as if they are impervious to shouldering some of the blame. The smiley stuff really galls me if I'm honest- especially in these straightened times supporters are paying good money home and away to have the Cr#p that's been served up whilst players give the impression they're untouchable and in sinecures.
I may be being unfair...
I honestly think that is unfair on the players - and believe me in the current conditions, there isn’t a player in Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter) who thinks of their contracts as guaranteed or cosy… things are absolutely brutal, there will be more net reductions in senior squad sizes across all 4 provinces again this season, and more pressure on contract re-signing amounts.

Most of us, certainly for most of my career, are FT employees on permanent contracts I would guess - when you talk to players, rugby is actually a pretty grim career in many ways by comparison. A series of short-term fixed contracts, constant injury risk, brutal renegotiations unless you’re seriously in demand..

And I also don’t think it’s the case that players don’t care about getting hammered, of course they do not least because their employment is so precarious, but poor morale is a killer and when there’s a sense of being set up to fail it’s corrosive.

It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any signs of the shackles being lifted in how we play in the rest of the season.

Ultimately bringing players along with you, which means creating ways for them to have their say and input in a constructive way, is a key skill for a head coach in any sport. And this was Dan’s big failing. He was always ‘my way or the highway’ and was so stubborn he would literally cut off his nose to spite his face.
..one more thing
CIMANFOREVER
Lord Chancellor
Posts: 4619
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:16 pm
Location: The Dufferin

Re: Dan’s Not the Man.

Post by CIMANFOREVER »

Truth-: Beacom sees himself as humourous, which is very much in the eye of the beholder. Should stick to NIFL, as he knows FA squared about rugby.
Even as a DF detractor, I see this only from last 18-24 month perspective with focus very much on the last rolling 12 months.
Exterminate all rational thought
Post Reply