Watson behind Hird in Dons AFL crisis

Essendon captain Jobe Watson has again backed coach James Hird as the AFL club deals with the fallout from a dreadful loss against St Kilda.

The Saints beat Essendon on Sunday by 110 points, prompting club great Tim Watson to call them the “worst team in the competition”.

Essendon are suffering from a five-game losing streak that has led to growing speculation about Hird’s future as coach.

Those losses have been by an average of 56 points, with the Bombers averaging less than ten goals themselves.

Given the form crisis at Essendon, Saturday’s game against Melbourne is suddenly crucial.

Essendon are 14th on the ladder, one spot above the Demons.

Asked at Monday’s recovery session about whether he thought Hird should stay in the role, Watson replied: “I do, I do – but at the moment, there are a lot of us who are underperforming.

“We have to work out a way to rectify it, because yesterday obviously wasn’t acceptable.”

Watson was also adamant after Sunday’s loss that the blame should not fall on his coach.

Hird likewise backed Watson, who only managed eight disposals in his 200th game.

The Essendon coach referred to the stress of the club’s ongoing supplements crisis in defending the out-of-form midfielder.

“It wasn’t a typical performance by Jobe, but players have bad days and Jobe has been through a lot,” Hird said.

“So we’ll … get to the bottom of it.”

Hird said after Sunday’s game that his players simply stopped playing in the loss.

On Monday, faced with a win-loss record of 4-9, he conceded the club’s finals hopes were all but over.

“We’re not thinking about finals after the performance yesterday, we’re thinking about trying to get our game back,” he told Talking Footy.

“There’s no indication from the club at all that I’m under pressure,” Hird also said on Monday.

“Hopefully the club sticks to its guns and we’ll go forward and try and beat Melbourne.”

Three-time premier Tim Watson piled on the pain on the same television show.

“I don’t think they will necessarily stay that same poor team but at this stage in time, on that performance, they’d be the worst team in the competition,” he said.

He said his son had been worn down by the pressure of the three-year supplements saga.

“He’s been the face of the football club and he’s certainly been a leader through that time as well which has meant he’s felt the responsibility of the group.”

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