Off-field distractions didn't cost us: Toovey
Despite what those from the Northern Beaches tells you, Manly coach Geoff Toovey concedes the off-field dramas that have engulfed his club have made the place anything but "the land of milk and honey".
Speaking after his side's gutting 18-17 golden-point loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday night, which brought the curtain down on another tumultuous year on the Peninsular, Toovey denied any suggestion that internal bickering and contract dramas had caught up with his players in the end.
But from the outside looking in, the clear factions that have seen the playing group divide down the middle – with star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans reportedly on the nose with senior men and Brett Stewart, Steve Matai and Anthony Watmough all requesting releases – took its toll on the side as they ended 2014 with five losses in their last seven games.
As to when the off-field issues will be sorted, Toovey could not give a definitive answer.
"They'll be sorted out when they'll be sorted out," he said.
"I can't put a timeframe on it. Everyone would like to be in the land of milk and honey but that's football and we're going to do the best we can."
When it came to getting Manly to within a whisker of a grand final qualifier despite a massive injury toll and endless speculation around the club, Toovey was straight as an arrow.
"I don't have to do anything there," Toovey said.
"These issues happen at every club so we're just moving forward. The players are very professional. They love playing in the maroon and white and they will continue to love playing in the maroon and white while we put in the effort and commitment that we have this year. And I expect to see the same next year."
With Manly trailing the Dogs 16-0 after just 18 minutes and miles off the pace, the Sea Eagles coach was left lamenting a horrendous start for a second straight week. As they scrapped and fought their way back to 16-6 at halftime, and then level pegging in the final stages, Toovey never lost hope in his side but conceded they were ultimately just not good enough on the night.
"I thought again our first half was very poor, a bit like last week," Toovey said.
"A few pretty disappointing decisions made by certain people, but very proud in the way we hung in there and came back. Similar to last week but it doesn't get you the biscuits does it?
"The try just before half-time turned things for us a bit emotionally.
"We always thought that we were in the game. We've got great potency in attack, we just had to be a bit more patient in attack and we did that at times, but not consistently enough.
"Particularly in that extra time period when we probably should have got the money."