More tough questions than answers for Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2017

Something is amiss at Netball SA. For the third consecutive season, the Adelaide Thunderbirds look totally devoid of confidence, confused as to the way that they are meant to be playing and are losing the battle of attracting ample media attention from the Adelaide press. Some of this is self-inflicted and other parts are beyond their control. However, it raises so many questions and not all of them are pleasant.

The message coming out of the Thunderbirds camp is that there have been positives to come out of every game. While that might be the case, to cover up what is really going on is not good enough and major questions need to be asked.

Why was Dan Ryan appointed coach?
Was he the best person for the job or was this another in-house appointment based purely on his history at the Club?  If he was the best person for the job, that is great, but one win from eight games has to raise questions.

Ryan’s coaching ability has to be queried, purely because of the talent that is on Adelaide’s list. Maybe it is harsh to criticise after less than one year in charge, but with two former national captains and two current national captains on the list, it is a fair enough point for mine. Sure, teams can take time to gel and the team came together at the last minute before the season started. However, we are now eight games in. That is two months of solid netball and things appear to be getting worse, rather than better. The Thunderbirds have clicked for one quarter of netball this year and that was the last quarter of the Round One win against the West Coast Fever. It has happened in patches, but not for an entire quarter since.

Why has the starting 7 not had time to settle?
We hear one week from Dan Ryan that youth are going to be given court time to find their place, but then we see the complete opposite occurring on the court. How are fans meant to understand that and more to the point, how are players meant to understand that? Consistency and clear plans are everything in sport.

What is going on with the scheduling? 
Not strictly Adelaide’s fault, but scheduling a home game against a Showdown is madness. A game also went to head to head with an Adelaide AFLW game earlier in the season. Granted, the AFLW schedule was done late in the piece, but more needs to be done to avoid these clashes in the Adelaide elite sporting market in the future.

Why was up and coming talent let go?
Maddy Proud, Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner. They should have been the future of the Adelaide Thunderbirds, but all were allowed to move interstate or not poached back from being interstate. Yes, all contracts were torn up at the conclusion of the ANZ Championship, but more should have been done to retain home-grown talent that will be stars and the future of the game.

Does Erin Bell deserve the captaincy tag? 
Erin Bell’s form since gaining the Adelaide Thunderbirds captaincy at the start of 2016 has been well below what we all know she is capable of. Bell is one of the most talented players in the game. She has not managed to find consistency and playing her at WA for parts this year, when she is one of the best shooters going around is strange.

What is with the splitting of games between Titanium Security Arena and Priceline Stadium?
Sure, Titanium Security Arena has a slightly larger capacity than that of Priceline Stadium, but when I bought season tickets, I purchased them on the basis of where my seat would be at Priceline, not TSA. As a result my seat at TSA is absolutely awful. If games are going to be split, fans must be given a choice of seating at both venues.

Why is there a lack of social media presence? 
Ticks for Facebook, but who is the social media manager at the Thunderbirds, because this is not good enough. There is very little movement on the Twitter account and it is a similar story on Instagram. Look at how football club’s do their social media. It is a full-time role. Multiple daily updates keeping fans abreast of everything and anything that is going on at the club. In 2017, a social media presence is so vital. Once again I’m happy to put up my hand to help out free of charge. It has to be better! More live game updates would be a good start that goes beyond the score updates at breaks.

Below is a prime example. Two months into the new competition, but according to Twitter, the Thunderbirds are still part of the ANZ Championship. Why?

The reality is that in sport, someone has to come last. The concern for Adelaide though is that the attitude coming from the Club both on the court and off has a smell about it. Something is not right. You can deal with losses, but some of the margins are of real concern. The West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts both lost key personnel heading into year one of Suncorp Super Netball, but have still managed to stay competitive. The Thunderbirds have not. This is year three of misery and not by any means an outlier. There is no way to sugar-coat it. Netball SA must overhaul the list and coaches over the break and outline their future plans, because the Thunderbirds are in big trouble as a franchise if they don’t.

Am I being harsh or do you agree? Tweet me @liamthompson1. 

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