A Shallow Dive into the 2022 Manly Sea Eagles

Your men’s Manly Sea Eagles finished the 2022 season in eleventh place with a 9-15 record and -105 points difference. With the tenth best attack (20.4 points scored per game) and the twelfth best defence (24.8 points conceded per game) and a slight underperformance of their Pythagorean expectation of 9.8 wins, Manly ended up about where the numbers said they should.

There is no Sea Eagles NRLW team nor any known plans for one in the near future.

The Victory Lap

From the pre-season deep dive:

The numbers are heavily, irresponsibly so if my eye is any judge, leaning in Manly’s favour. Trbojevic, Tom wrecked all sorts of grading curves, largely by playing a key role in Manly putting the boot in to weaker teams. Refer to the 66-0 demolition of the Dogs in round 16 that was so thorough and catastrophic, it was the tipping point against the six again. Cherry-Evans, Garrick and others went along for the ride. Realistically, I think they are now overrated, in the very literal sense of the word that their ratings are higher than what I expect they are capable of producing in 2022…

The coach is the same, the core players are the same but the rules are a bit different and I think the stars would absolutely have to align for the second year running for their to be a repeat of 2021’s heroics. Sure, they may not start so slowly but this team very much exceeded its ceiling, one of Hasler’s gifts but is typically followed by a harsh reversion in the following year. Witness the collapse of 2020, following the success of the duct taped 2019 team. Missing the finals would be a bridge too far but the Bunnies might be a better candidate for this year’s top four, if there are any places going.

I had this nailed until the last sentence, the inclusion of which is how you know I’m giving you an honest assessment. Even though I correctly predicted regression, I didn’t expect how badly it would go for Manly with the NRL opting for a sprinkling of six agains, in lieu of the deluge in 2021.

What happened

The lazy narrative that will dominate post-mortems of Manly’s season is that they were undone by the gays in round 20. I think the even lazier, and more accurate, narrative is that their best player got injured and Manly were so heavily reliant on him producing on the field that their season was over once his shoulder popped out of its socket in round 11.

NOPE. My apologies to the LGBTIQA+ community but it turns out that a substantial portion of Manly’s lineup would rather lose and miss finals, than play for a club that let them stand aside for a game while the professionals played in a jersey that represented inclusiveness.

Oh but it gets worse.

Manly did not handle the situation around their pride jersey well but they deserve an infinite amount of credit for not only breaking this barrier, and forcing the NRL community to have some tough conversations around how accepting a culture it really has, but doing so in a manner that suggested that this should be totally normal.

Manly’s management offset any goodwill they would have received by a) apologising to everyone, including the Dipshit 7, and thereby making any apology meaningless, and b) forcing Des Hasler to be the public face of conversations that he was not equipped for (credit to Hasler for taking this on). Nonetheless, if you were cheering on the Roosters to demolish the Manly players that actually agreed to wear the pride jersey because of this mishandling (and are not a Roosters fan), I think you need to cut them a bit of slack.

If there’s one good outcome from this Manly season, it’s this, and I think this will be more important in the long run than the week one finals exit they were on track for otherwise. Hopefully, more clubs will follow their lead and we’ll get to see what the cunts who run your club will do when a half dozen starting first graders decide to throw a tantrum over a passage in Leviticus and some tenuous stuff in the New Testament.

While we’re on the topic, this is not a sign I’ve been kidnapped but is genuine:

There’s always next year

The Broncos’ absolute bed shit further up the ladder has taken more media attention but it seems that this jersey has opened up a wide rift at Manly. Whether this is over the jersey per se, or if its just a casus belli around which partisan battlelines can be drawn (see also: Josh Schuster, Daly Cherry-Evans, the Trbojevicii), remains to be seen, but the looming Hasler versus Fulton versus others dispute is likely to be a great example of the Iron Law of Insitutions:

The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution “fail” while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to “succeed” if that requires them to lose power within the institution.

Which means I’m going to be forced to learn the names of various Fultons, even though Bob himself died last year, as well executives and other political entities that are peripheral to the actual football before this is over. Hopefully, this trivia will not push some actually important knowledge out of my brain, like knowing how to drive.

As we’ve seen in identical situations at other clubs, when this kind of thing is happening in the background, the actual results stop mattering and then take a big nose dive. In turn, the poor results provide more fuel to the fire until it burns itself out, usually at the bottom of the ladder and then the cleanout begins. There are no winners and both sides are now so unbearably toxic, the club refuses to deal with them any longer. Until then, there’s not much point in talking about the changes to the team itself for 2023.

If Manly choose to resolve this by shooting themselves in the foot and binning a proven coach in Hasler mid-next season, that could greatly expedite the whole process.

Oh, well I guess that settles it then.