IT’S way too early after just two rounds to put the red line through any team — well, OK, maybe Newcastle — but seriously, how bad is Manly?
On Monday morning there was no shortage of sympathy for Nathan Brown given the Knights woeful performance against Souths, but 24 hours later I reckon Trent Barrett would have gladly swapped places with him.
The difference being, of course, that nobody expected anything of Newcastle. Brownie was on a hiding to nothing the day he signed on, but the Sea Eagles?
For some reason people – and not just those people who wander around Warringah Mall in maroon and white beanies – seemed to think Manly were serious contenders before the season started.
So serious, in fact, that UBET had them as $8 equal second favourite alongside the Cowboys, behind only the Broncos at $4.25.
The Tigers, who walloped them on Monday night, were at $101, and the Bulldogs, who dusted them 28-6 in round one, were at $12.
The form that the Sea Eagles have shown in their first two games (or should that read lack of form?) has seen the market adjust accordingly.
They are now at $17 with an anchor, but the question still remains: why did anyone think they were any good in the first place?
Forget the glowing pre-season media reports of how they had been magically put back together like a Meccano set.
They’ve got an untried coach, two no-name hookers, a winger at five-eighth, their two genuine stars Jamie Lyon and Brett Stewart are on the wrong side of 30 and the whispers that they “let the wrong half go” are becoming a roar.
Even on one leg Kieren Foran was solid and assured in the Eels upset win over the premiers on Saturday.
Without Foran beside him at Brookvale Oval on Monday night, Daly Cherry-Evans looked like he was lost in the mirror maze at the old Manly Fun Pier.
And he wasn’t having fun.
Neither were the Manly supporters who watched on aghast as he squandered their team’s last hope of snatching a win from the fire by pulling a page from the Under-8s playbook and passing to a prop on the sixth tackle.
You could almost hear the sighs of relief from the Titans boardroom.
If Cherry-Evans hadn’t succumbed to pressure from Manly and had a change of heart, the Titans would have thrown every cent they had and then some to get him to the Coast.
Right now it looks like they might have dodged a bullet.
There’s little doubt Manly will improve as the season progresses — they invariably do — but early signs are that their fans, and particularly their coach, are in for some tough times.
Sacking a club legend to bring in an untried coach who never wore the club colours was always going to be risky.
Banging the PR drum to say what a brilliant move it had been, even before the season kicked off, was only going to raise the stakes.
And now Trent Barrett and co are chasing their tails after only two games.
At least Nathan Brown will be happy. It takes some of the pressure off him.