New Widnes coach Allan Coleman addressed the fans for the first time at the recent members’ Monday event.
He is the sixth head coach at Widnes since the departure of long-serving Denis Betts in 2018.
The same coach hasn’t started successive seasons in charge at the DCBL Stadium since Betts lined up at the start of the 2018 season which ultimately ended in relegation from Super League under his replacement Francis Cummins.
Kieron Purtill, Tim Sheens, Simon Finnigan and John Kear have all been and gone since, with Widnes failing to reach the play-offs in each of their four complete seasons in the Championship.
Australian Sheens only managed a handful of games before COVID cancelled the 2020 season, before his untimely departure in the subsequent off-season.
Coleman arrives from Swinton, with Neil Belshaw having done himself no harm in taking interim charge for the final 10 games of 2023.
He was keen to emphasise togetherness and the importance of hard work and promised to deliver a team proud of watching.
It’s been a miserable few years for Widnes in the Championship, finishing 8th twice and 9th twice, and Coleman believes that the play-offs should have been the minimum the club achieved in those years.
In saying he wants to reach the play-offs and more at Widnes, he admits putting pressure on himself but that is something he will thrive on.
Widnes’ home record
One area Coleman will be looking to improve is Widnes’ home form and try and turn the DCBL Stadium in to a fortress as it was at times during the Super League era.
The artificial pitch, which creates challenges and opportunities, should enable Widnes to create a fortress of their own; the pristine 3G pitch with adequate sports line marking could be a critical player in the match itself.
Coleman referred to opposing teams not being scared of Widnes, mentioning a soft underbelly, and how if you got in to Widnes early, players would start to blame each other and let the game go. On the flip side, when things went well for Widnes, they went really well, demonstrated in the heavy home wins against Halifax and Bradford, which both reflected that the Vikings should have finished much higher than they did last term.
|Home wins||Home losses||Away wins||Away losses|
*plus one draw
Calculations do not include Summer Bash games
They did at least boast a positive home record last season – winning seven and losing six, which was an improvement from the season before (five wins, eight losses).
In the first season back in the Championship, 2019, Widnes won nine out of 13 home games, which should probably be a minimum target.
Back in the Super League era, Widnes lost just three of 11 home games in 2015, and four of 13 in 2014.
It is thought that Widnes were one of a number of Championship sides against the merger with League 1, citing concerns over the competitiveness of the likes of Cornwall and Midlands Hurricanes.
Whoever Widnes do come up against at home next season, they will need a much better record to make the play-offs. To compare, Featherstone and Toulouse won 12 out of 13 home games in the league last season, Halifax won 10 and Sheffield won nine.