West Coast chairman Russell Gibbs reiterated his support for Adam Simpson but said the AFL club would not tolerate treading water next year.
The Eagles have fallen headlong into rebuilding mode after a horror 1-7 start to a 2022 campaign that has been littered with a series of injuries and COVID-19 issues.
Off-field indiscretions also hurt the lowest-ranked club, with seven players fined for breaching team guidelines by frequenting a nightclub.
Simpson, who led West Coast to the premiership in 2018, has the public backing of the club’s board to lead the rebuild.
But despite being reluctant to set a timetable for the proceedings, Gibbs said the Eagles need to make strides forward under Simpson in 2023.
“We have to see improvement, no doubt,” Gibbs told ABC radio on Saturday.
“If we go through next year and there’s no improvement and there’s no sign of improvement, then obviously the manager will have to explain where he sees the club going.
“But I will stress again, at this point there is no time for that.
“I’d like to see everyone play together and we’ll take it from there.”
The Eagles’ dramatic slide came as a large core of senior players – including Shannon Hurn, Josh Kennedy, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui – towards the end of their careers.
Gibbs said the West Coast would engage in the draft to bring in new talent, rather than looking for a quick fix.
“All I can do is ask people to keep supporting the club as we get through this,” Gibbs said.
Speaking directly to Gibbs on ABC radio, the two-time West Coast Premier’s coach Mick Malthouse said there was a “long and difficult road” ahead of his former club.
The all-time AFL practice game record holder has warned Gibbs that Eagles fans have been “spoiled rotten” by the club’s success over the years.
“The reality is you have to prepare your supporters for a pretty bumpy time, I would say, almost three or four years before you even look like you’re going to turn things around,” Malthouse said.
“And even if you knock him down, knocking him down to have a position at the top of the ladder is going to take another three or four years, in my opinion.”