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Worsfold, a war-time coach, faces a battle to hang on

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John Worsfold has been Essendon's version of a war-time prime minister, having led the Bombers through their darkest hour of 2016, when they might have been torn apart by the year-long suspensions to players and the financial, legal and moral morass that ensued.

Worsfold was a calm and commanding presence, helping the club avert upheaval. Game plans and team selection were lesser priorities than rebuilding trust and providing composed leadership in what was an unprecedented set of circumstances.

If he's hardly Winston Churchill with words, honest John Worsfold was still a coach for the tumult of the times.

Essendon's chairman has more than once cited Nathan Buckley and Damien Hardwick when defending Worsfold.Credit:AAP

But Essendon are in peacetime today and, as with post-war Britain, the masses want to see a new prosperity. They've had enough of the rations.

No longer in the midst of an existential struggle, the Dons are facing a mini-crisis and another kind of challenge – to win games and play a consistent brand of football.

So Worsfold's future is on the line in the coming weeks. He is neither "gone'' nor safe (I had wrongly assumed the latter). That he has a contract for 2020 gives him only a measure of protection, because the Bombers can find a way to reach a settlement if they want a change.

In peacetime, fiscal rectitude is less critical than football results, particularly at a club with Essendon's capacity to conjure dollars from their endless coteries and cashed-up fans. The soft cap on footy spending isn't necessarily a deterrent.

Following the club's abysmal loss to Richmond, Worsfold pleaded for time, comparing his........

© The Age