Brad Arthur has come out swinging in response to mounting external pressure at Parramatta, declaring "it's crazy we're talking about my job" given the Eels are still in the top four leading into Saturday's clash with Manly.
The past week has been reminiscent of Parramatta's bad old days with finger-pointing over leaks to the media and conjecture over the contract of captain Clint Gutherson – which doesn't expire for another 15 months – prompting a pause on negotiations to be made public on Thursday.
Like several clubs, the Eels have a multimillion-dollar list of players who can negotiate elsewhere on November 1 with Arthur also in the same boat after eight years at the helm.
A rapid form drop-off in recent weeks, amplifying a gradual slide that has been in play since round 11, has reignited regular, near-annual questions around the abilities of the coach and his squad, as well as relationships right across the club; seemingly from Arthur and football manager Mark O'Neill, to the board and the ball boys.
Arthur spoke calmly but pointedly before the critical clash with arch-rivals Manly - another loss will likely drop his side out of the top four three weeks out from the finals.
Sea Eagles v Eels - Round 22
"There's 12 teams right now at the moment that sit below us," Arthur said.
"If you want me to be real honest, I think it's crazy that we're sitting here talking about my job.
"I've been in the job for eight years now. Every year at some stage, we hadn't even played a game at the start of the year and there was already some conjecture around my position.
"I'm fully aware of the responsibilities that go with being a head coach.
"I'm prepared for any consequences that go with it when the team's playing poorly. It's just what it is."
Arthur and the Eels have navigated most every issue an NRL club can – plenty of them self-inflicted – over the course of his tenure, with the coach long adopting a policy to "never discuss as a group or things that happen in the media, things that might be happening off to the side".
Widespread suggestions of Gutherson's contract talks being leaked from within by the Eels – which the captain dubbed as a rumour to destabilise their finals campaign – were dismissed by Arthur.
Speaking on Friday morning, Arthur said he was unaware the club had made a public statement 12 hours earlier to "put [Gutherson's] contract discussions on hold until the conclusion of the season".
In any case, Arthur said he had little concern around where his captain's future or Gutherson's price tag lies given fierce conjecture over suggestions of a $1 million salary from some quarters.
Parramatta's hard-nosed approach to contract negotiations in recent years has been oft-discussed in NRL circles, but has ultimately ended with key figures like Gutherson, Mitchell Moses and Nathan Brown among others re-signing after protracted talks.
"If things need to wait until the end of the season and that's what's best for the club and for Gutho, that's fine," Arthur said.
"I need to be 100% clear. I'm not focused on what happens in two weeks time, in four months time, I'm only worried about what happens tomorrow.
"And then I'll be worried about what happens next week.
"That's all that is important for us at the moment. What I do know is that Gutho is comfortable and likes being at this club.
"The club wants to keep him here. It always works out, sometimes it just takes a bit longer than other negotiations."