Manly's five-year plan BRAD WALTER AND JAMIE PANDARAM 6/10/2008 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/national/national/sport/manlys-fiveyear-plan/1326219.aspx AFTER rewriting the record books with the biggest win in grand final history, Manly players and officials revealed the club had been aggregating this season since 2003 as the one the once-bankrupt Silvertails would win. Sea Eagles captain and playmaker Matt Orford admitted he was "in shock" at the 40-0 defeat of Melbourne, eclipsing the Roosters' 38-0 thrashing of St George in 1975. Meanwhile, the club's owners Scott Penn and Max Delmege said the win - the club's seventh premiership - was part of a five-year plan devised when they took over following the failed Northern Eagles merger with North Sydney. And the belief that Manly would win the premiership this year was even used by recruitment manager Noel "Crusher" Cleal during negotiations to lure former Kangaroos star Jamie Lyon back to the NRL after he walked out on Parramatta in 2004. That it was achieved in such emphatic fashion against the team that beat them in last year's premiership decider - with Orford silencing his critics and Sea Eagles great Steve Menzies bowing out with a grand final ring after a record-equalling 349 premiership matches - was just the icing on the cake. "We weren't going to be satisfied unless we took the prize," Penn said. "To be honest, last year we punched above our weight and we got there earlier than what we thought. But 2008 was always the year we thought we would get there, so to be there last year was just a bonus. "We didn't expect to be there and it probably showed to a degree. We were just excited to be in the grand final. But this year it was totally unfinished business." With Manly having used just 27 players this season and introducing only one debutant in winger David Williams, Delmege admitted that a bit of luck was involved. But he said it had always been the plan to win this year. "To get this was my dream and we've got it. That was the plan," Delmege said. "But when you start at the bottom of the grid and have to get to the top in five or six years, it's amazing that we were able to do it." From the time the club was privatised and Des Hasler was appointed coach, the Sea Eagles have been slowly building with the recruitment of now retired former skipper Ben Kennedy and prop Brent Kite followed by Orford and Steve Bell's signing in 2006 and Lyon last year after a stint in England with St Helens. "Crusher told me it was a work in progress and he told me '08 would be the year - the centenary year. So he knows his footy, the old dog," Lyon said. "We were sitting out in a hot water bath out the back in Wee Waa and he said '08 is our year, and that was '04." Asked about the odd prediction made in an odd setting, Cleal said his prophetic words were delivered in the belief that 2008 would deliver Manly's first premiership since 1996 after working out a long-term plan with Hasler. "We were sitting in a hot bath in Burren Junction and I said, 'Come to us and you'll win a comp,"' Cleal said. "I said to him, 'Come down here and you'll win a comp in '08.' "Where did that come from? Myself and Des sat down with a plan, and we just said we had to buy marquee players and get kids and we knew that if we did it right we'd win a comp." After preventing the Storm from becoming the first team to win back-to-back premierships since the Broncos of 1992 and 1993, the Sea Eagles are now aiming to do so next season. But Manly chief executive Grant Mayer said the salary cap made it difficult to build a dynasty. Aside from Bradford-bound Menzies, Bell and interchange prop Mark Bryant are heading to English Super League next season, while hooker Matt Ballin is yet to re-sign. Ballin, who scored the first of Manly's eight tries, is expected to sign a new three-year deal this week. Mayer will then begin negotiations with players coming off contract next year - headed by Orford. "Certainly in the next couple of weeks we'll start talking to players," Mayer said. "We haven't even spoken about it with Matt but we will. He's a hell of a player and if he keeps playing like he did tonight he's got a couple of years left in him yet." Delmege said: "The critics go mumble, mumble, mumble but that guy is a little warrior, and he certainly proved any critics that he had wrong tonight."