PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Dockers head coach Ross Lyon looks on following the warm-up sesison during the round 17 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Geelong Cats at Domain Stadium on July 15, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The 2019 season has seen a number of coaches fighting to retain their positions.

By the halfway mark of the season, Carlton had already sacked Brendon Bolton and North Melbourne parted ways with Brad Scott.

Alan Richardson’s tenure at St Kilda has been debated since the start of the season, while John Longmire and Alastair Clarkson’s names have been raised for the vacant North and Blues positions.

Yet one coach that has gone under the raider is Ross Lyon, who entered the campaign with as many doubts as Richardson and Bolton.

The Dockers currently sit eighth on the ladder and according to Stats Insiders ‘AFL Sackometre‘, Lyon is narrowly above expectations this season.

At times the Dockers have shown the ability to compete with the best teams in the competition, by recording victories over GWS, Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

However, there good performances have been soured by defeats to the bottom three teams – Gold Coast, Melbourne and Carlton.

Had Fremantle won those games they would be level on wins with Collingwood and West Coast, but because they were unable to put away the bottom three teams, Lyon’s role at the club has to come into question.

If the Dockers decided to part ways with Lyon at season’s end it would be a decision made in the best interest in the future of the football club and where they see themselves in premiership calculations.

Upon his arrival at the club in 2012, Lyon took the Dockers to four finals campaigns in a row and a Grand Final appearance in 2013.

Since their preliminary final appearance in 2015, the Dockers have failed to make the finals in the past three season, finishing 16th in 2016 and 14th in 2017 and 2018.

In the past three seasons the Dockers have added youth to their list and now have the fourth youngest list in the competition, below the likes of St Kilda, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

The Dockers have been able to add some exciting young talent to their list along with additions from other clubs.

What they now need to decide is whether Ross Lyon is the man to develop these players and will he be at the helm when they next challenge for the premiership.

A key aspect to Lyons’ coaching over the years has been his defensive gameplan. Lyon’s teams have always been difficult to break down, evident again this season as they have the third best defence in the competition, behind Geelong and GWS.

But in recent years it is clear the game has shifted away from the defensive style and is now a game based on forward pressure and the ability to score quickly.

Lyons’ gameplan opposes the system that has worked for the past three premiers and the Dockers lack of offensive threat has prevented them from securing more wins this campaign.

A good team would have put Melbourne away at half time, yet the Dockers struggled to find an avenue to goal, which allowed the Demons to work their way back into the contest and claim an unlikely win.

Fremantle must also question whether Lyon is the right man to develop their youngsters, given his tendency to rely on mature players during his time at the Dockers and St Kilda.

Then there is the issue with their trade and free agency recruitment over the last four years.

Since the Dockers last made the finals they have recruited Reece Conca, Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb, Travis Colyer, Nathan Wilson, Brandon Matera, Cam McCarthy, Brad Hill, Shane Kerston, Joel Hamling and Harley Bennell from opposition clubs.

Only Conca, Wilson, Matera, Hill and Hamling can be considered successful, while the others have had issues on and off the field.

If the Dockers decide to part ways with Lyon they would be wise to target Collingwood assistant coach Justin Longmuir, who has been lauded for his work with the Magpies defence in the last two seasons.

Longmuir is also a former Fremantle player and would be welcomed back to the club if they were to appoint him as Lyon’s successor.

A key to any decision on Lyon’s future is where the Dockers see themselves in premiership calculations. Do they see themselves contending for the flag in the next three seasons and does Lyon’s gameplan stack up in the finals?