Nick Riewoldt Fears For Saints Coach Richardson
St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt fears for beleaguered coach Alan Richardson but is adamant the Saints have the talent to fight their way out of their AFL form slump.
Touted as finals contenders earlier this year, the Saints have been arguably the biggest disappointment of the season.
St Kilda will head into Saturday's clash with reigning premiers Richmond - a game few expect them to win - in 16th place with just one win, one draw and seven losses.
Problems continue to stack up for Richardson. His coaching methods have come under scrutiny amid questions about the Saints' list management and the mental state of a playing group who have been woefully inaccurate in front of goal.
Former captain and five-time All-Australian Riewoldt, who retired at the end of last season, said it had been difficult to see the blowtorch applied to Richardson.
"I guess having been at clubs that have struggled in the past, you've got to win games of footy otherwise the coach is under pressure and the scrutiny comes," he told Fox Footy's AFL360.
"Just six months out, it's hard to see it going the way it's going because you know the group so well and you know they're better than that.
"You just want so badly to be able to see it turning around."
Club president Peter Summers on Saturday doubled down on his claim that the Saints had a list capable of snaring a top-four finsh.
Most pundits have disagreed, pointing to a lack of genuine A-grade players and the Saints' apparent inability to fill the void left by six-time club champion Riewoldt.
West Coast wingman Andrew Gaff and Adelaide prime mover Rory Sloane are expected to be among the Saints' free agency targets at the end of the season but Riewoldt had faith in the Saints' existing players to go to another level.
"This year, clearly, is gone - 11 out of 13 the Saints would have to win to qualify for the finals," Riewoldt said.
"But I still do feel like there is enough ... Jack Billings is a much, much better player than what he's showing. If he kicked straight last year - and he's a beautiful kick - he's All-Australian last year.
"Jade Gresham is a much better player than he's shown. Tim Membrey is a really good player. There's a lot of players out of form."