FORMER South Warrnambool footballer Brent Moloney has given departed Melbourne coach Mark Neeld a public slap on the face.
Moloney, the club’s best and fairest in 2011, left the Demons last year after being dropped during stages in 2012.
He displayed the ill-will he felt towards Neeld by posting a picture with the words “karma is a bitch” on social media after the coach was sacked on Monday.
However, Neeld gave a measured response to Moloney’s comment, saying: “People will deal with things in their own way. I won’t be putting out a tweet like that one”.
Neeld has refuted assertions that he had “lost the players”, and that he was a “harsh dictator” that went too hard too soon in trying to drive a new culture at the struggling club.
Speaking on Channel Nine on Monday night, Neeld claimed he “never once questioned his relationship with the players”.
“It was optional for the players this morning, (but) they all turned up to the press conference,” Neeld said.
“I don’t know what that said, but to me that was a good show of support by the boys,” he said.
“Elite training environments were what we were trying to develop at Melbourne, and (Neil) Craig will continue that on. But they are not for everyone and you’ve got to have players there that want to strive to be the very best all the time.”
The prevailing view out of Monday’s press conference was that convincing players to stay at Melbourne next year, such as Jack Watts, James Frawley and Colin Sylvia, all rumoured to be the target of rival clubs or looking to leave, played a part in the decision to sack Neeld.
Neeld said he would be surprised if Watts described their relationship as anything other than “very good”.
The sacked coach was also questioned about whether he disenfranchised senior players such Brent Moloney, Jared Rivers and Brad Green with his hardline approach when he first arrived before the 2012 season.
Part of the approach included taking the captaincy off Green and endorsing youngsters Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes as co-captains ahead of established veterans such as Moloney.
Neeld admitted the club had given him the mantra to make “harsh decisions” at the start of his tenure in a bid to change the culture at Melbourne.
“We were given as a group of coaches certain things that we were told that really needed to be fixed,” Neeld said.