A-League legend BLASTS St Kilda for firing Brett Ratten and claims Saints’ bosses had ‘made their mind up’ before internal review that led to coach departure: ‘One of the WORST sackings I’ve ever seen’
Two-time A-League champion coach Ernie Merrick has blasted St Kilda for firing Brett Ratten, describing the Saints’ decision to part with their head coach as ‘one of the worst sackings I’ve ever seen’.
Ratten was sacked by the Saints last week, just months after signing a new contract with the AFL club.
Ratten signed a two-year extension back in July, taking him through to 2024, but a poor end to the season in which they failed to reach the finals for a second year running forced St Kilda’s hand.
Brett Ratten was sacked last week, despite signing a new two-year deal back in July
But Merrick, who won the A-League twice with Melbourne Victory and worked as coaching consultant for the Saints last season, believes the club made the wrong decision.
‘It’s one of the worst [sackings] I’ve seen,’ the 69-year-old told Channel 7.’
The Saints are understood to have come to the decision following a review of the club’s football operations, in which the team’s performances came under the spotlight.
However, Merrick suggested the review was simply an exercise in ticking boxes and that the club’s brass had already made their mind up about sacking Ratten.
The Saints lost eight of their last 11 games of the season to fall outside of the top eight in 2022
‘I was part of the review process the day before he was sacked, and I think the decision was already made.
‘I only spoke with two people, one was the president one was the CEO.
‘The CEO I thought was very fair and honest […] but I’m afraid [with president] Andrew Bassat I felt the decision was already made.
‘I was so disappointed, whatever argument was presented to me for removing the coach I countered.’
Ernie Merrick has slammed St Kilda’s board for choosing to part ways with Ratten
Ratten won 26 of his 49 games in charge of the Saints since he took over as caretaker coach halfway through the 2019 season after Alan Richardson stepped down.
In his truncated campaign in charge, the Saints made the finals for the first time since Ross Lyon left the club in acrimonious circumstances back in 2011, before losing to eventual premiership winner Richmond in the semi-final.
In his two full seasons in charge, Ratten led the club to 10th place on the ladder with a combined 21-23 record.
Ratten won 26 of his 49 games in charge of the Saints since he took over as caretaker coach halfway through the 2019 season after Alan Richardson stepped down
Merrick believes the results did not warrant the axe.
‘They say it’s a results-driven business that we’re in […] but it’s really not performance-related,’ he said.
‘It’s usually someone who makes a tough call without the expertise or knowledge behind them I would say.’
Ross Lyon told 9News Melbourne he was ‘close’ to returning to St Kilda 11 years after leaving the club in acrimonious circumstances to join Fremantle
Merrick’s comments came a day after Lyon opened up the door on an emotional return to the club, suggesting he was ‘very close’ to replace Ratten.
Lyon coached St Kilda for five seasons before unceremoniously departing at the end of the 2011 campaign to take over at Fremantle.
‘We are very close. We had some long meetings, where I explained my philosophy and really tried to understand where they are at and what they want to achieve,’ he told 9News Melbourne.
‘I’m keen. My heart’s been opened up to St Kilda.’