James Hird’s coaching future is under a white-hot spotlight after Adelaide served up another AFL belting of Essendon, a 112-point demolition at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Eddie Betts’ five-goal haul helped the Crows to a 27.9 (171) to 8.11 (59) victory, lifting the Crows back inside the top eight with a win-loss record to 11-7 and three regular-season games remaining.
Led by Patrick Dangerfield, who finished with 15 contested possessions and three goals, Adelaide cut the Bombers to ribbons.
Between two running goals from Dangerfield in the first and third terms, the Crows kicked 12 unanswered goals to settle the contest in emphatic fashion.
The Crows showed their ruthless streak in the last term, kicking 11.1 for the club’s best-ever fourth quarter as they blew the margin into three figures.
The magnitude of the defeat places huge pressure on Hird, who has now overseen 10 losses in his last 11 matches.
The Bombers are limping to the line in the club’s worst season for nine years, with those defeats averaging 55 points.
The embattled coach said both he and his players were feeling the loss.
“It hurts, it really hurts,” he said.
“When you go in that change room, the players are really hurting.
“They’re thoroughly disappointed in there … the resilience of the playing group is probably really low at the moment.”
With a review of Essendon’s football department at season’s end to include him, Hird said he still felt like he could coach the club to success.
“Our performance this year has been quite poor and any time you win five games for the year … with three or four big blowout (losses), justifiably criticism will come and your job will get questioned,” he said.
“The club has to look at what the right thing to do is.
“I think I can do it but that doesn’t mean everyone else does.”
Astonishingly, Essendon led by six points at the first break before being blown away.
Essendon wasn’t helped by late injuries to David Myers (back) and Jonathan Giles (ankle) which reduced them to one on the bench for the last quarter.
Crows caretaker coach Scott Camporeale said backing up from last weekend’s defeat of Richmond was the most pleasing factor.
“I challenged the group in terms of being ruthless, this industry is ruthless so I wanted to finish the game out,” he said.
Betts’ bag led 14 Adelaide goalkickers, tying another club record.
“He’s a freak, a human highlight reel,” Camporeale said.