Nathan Buckley will go into the round 23 clash against Melbourne not knowing if it will be his last game as Collingwood coach.
The Magpies’ board will have a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening but the club is maintaining its long-held position that no decision on the coach will be made until after the season is over.
Speculation has been rife over Buckley’s future in his sixth year as coach, with the Pies, who are 13th with eight wins, to miss the finals for a fourth season in a row.
Buckley has handled himself with aplomb for the most part despite the uncertainty around his future.
“I would hope I’d be able to coach and respond and be as impressive as he’s been under this scrutiny and this uncertainty,” St Kilda counterpart Alan Richardson told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“He just looks like he’s there for their footy club.
“He’s been very impressive.”
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and his board are waiting on the findings of three separate internal reviews before deciding if they will offer Buckley a new contract.
There have been several reports in recent weeks that the club is leaning towards a scenario similar to the ones that played out at Richmond last year and Geelong in 2006.
Changes were made after exhaustive reviews, but under pressure coaches Damien Hardwick and Mark Thompson survived and went on to enjoy much-improved seasons – the Tigers are currently fourth and the Cats won the flag.
But while it has clearly been a difficult year for the Magpies and their coach, Geelong coach Chris Scott would be surprised if Buckley doesn’t have some inkling of what lies ahead of him.
“I think it’s really hard to speculate as to what has actually been discussed, but I would be staggered if Nathan and his superiors hadn’t had discussions all the way through,” Scott said on AFL 360.
“Similar to the way coaches and list managers talk to senior players toward the end of their careers.
“It’s not (a case of) ‘Ok now we have to talk about this for the first time’. It’s a process that you work through over a period of time.
“Even though their public position has been ‘We’ll make that decision at the end of the year’ I’d be staggered if they hadn’t had some sort of discussions to give him a bit of a feel for what’s going on.
“That would be a difficult position to be in.”