Penrith Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould is reportedly set to leave the club. Picture: AAP
Penrith Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould is reportedly set to leave the club. Picture: AAP

Sensational Penrith bust-up pushes Gould out the door

PENRITH supremo Phil Gould has sensationally been made redundant by the Panthers.

Gould approached club officials on Tuesday morning seeking a redundancy which is expected to be approved at a board meeting on Wednesday.

It ends a successful, yet tumultuous, stint at Penrith for Gould who rejoined the club as general manager of football back in 2011.

Insiders continue to claim under-pressure coach Ivan Cleary wants full autonomy over football decisions but has been unable to achieve that with Gould at the club.

Gould is known to be a powerful and influential figure, with some stating he struggles to take a back seat when it comes to player recruitment and retention.

At this point Gould and Cleary haven't been invited to the meeting although the coach may be asked to appear.

Late on Tuesday the Panthers released a statement acknowledging Gould's role with the club.

"This morning Panthers Chairman Dave O'Neill and myself met with Phil Gould to discuss his position at the club.

"Phil was adamant that his position as Executive General Manager Rugby League has become redundant and his time at Panthers is at an end.

Phil Gould helping Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at Penrith training. Picture Brett Costello
Phil Gould helping Dallin Watene-Zelezniak at Penrith training. Picture Brett Costello

"While there will be opportunity for further reflection once matters are formalised, I wish to acknowledge the extraordinary impact Phil has had on this club since returning as Executive General Manager in 2011.

"The Panthers Board will meet tomorrow to discuss the potential terms of Gould's departure from Panthers."

Gould was the man who sacked Cleary from Penrith during his first tenure as coach several years ago.

Gould this month revealed that he had a handshake agreement with Wayne Bennett to coach the Panthers in 2019, but at the same time, Panthers chair Dave O'Neill was speaking with then Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.

It was apparently a breakdown in communication that forced Gould to tell Bennett he would not be coming to Penrith, and he eventually signed with South Sydney.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary could get his wish to have full control over the club’s football operations. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary could get his wish to have full control over the club’s football operations. Picture: Phil Hillyard

In Phil Rothfield's Monday Buzz column, O'Neill said he had no regrets about hiring Cleary to lead the Panthers into the future.

"The results might look better (under Griffin) but would I change what happened?" he said. "No way in the world.

"The direction we've taken is in the best interests of the club. We're going through some pain but we'll get there. We've got a bit of soul-searching to do but we'll come through."

On Nine's 100% Footy, Gould hosed down suggestions he and Ivan Cleary were not on friendly terms.

"We've been mates for 24 years," Gould said.

The Panthers have struggled to start the 2019 season after all the pre-season fanfare around Ivan Cleary’s return. Picture: AAP
The Panthers have struggled to start the 2019 season after all the pre-season fanfare around Ivan Cleary’s return. Picture: AAP

"Ivan and I are mates, simple as that. That's all there is ... He doesn't listen to me one bit. Whatever I've learnt about rugby league I taught him in the first four years I coached him. He hasn't listened since.

"Ivan's had a great off-season with them, they trained really well.

"Things were looking really good, but they lost Viliame Kikau in the first minute of the first trial and then we had that disruption with the tapes - I think they got off to the season on the wrong leg.

"Ivan and his coaches are working really hard, their preparation has been really good. There's nothing to explain why the way they've played."

Penrith's attack this year is just dreadful. They are averaging only 13.8 points a game compared to 23.3 under Griffin. Linebreaks, tackle busts and offloads are way down.

News Corp Australia


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