CLAYTON Oliver’s manager Nick Gieschen says the Melbourne star is "committed" to the Demons after a challenging week, crediting coach Simon Goodwin as a key part of the midfielder staying at the club.
Oliver’s future has been in the spotlight this week, with AFL.com.au revealing on Tuesday rival clubs had been weighing making trade plays for the superstar Demon.
That led to a series of days in the spotlight for Oliver and discussions with the Demons on his future, with Melbourne on Friday releasing a statement saying it would not be trading the four-time best and fairest winner but that he understands "what is expected of him as a professional athlete" and the "standards and behaviours" to uphold.
Leading player agent Gieschen, from Connors Sports Management, said Oliver had taken on board the discussions with Melbourne.
"It’s been confronting, but out of all of this it’s an opportunity to grow. Off the back of a lot of the hard, honest, robust conversations it’s given him a chance to get some stuff off his chest and some time to heal," Gieschen told AFL.com.au.
"He very much loves the Melbourne Football Club, it’s like his family. He’s grown up there, he feels very strongly about the footy club and the players and coaches, and sometimes families fight but he’s got enormous respect for 'Goody' and as much as it’s been challenging I don’t think he can see himself playing under another coach because of all the support he’s had from the footy club."
Goodwin and Oliver caught up for dinner on Thursday night, which was a key moment in the three-time All-Australian’s week, with football boss Alan Richardson also in attendance and a crucial part of the process.
“It was an amazing initiative by 'Goody' to have him around at his house for dinner with his partner shows enormous care and I think Clayton appreciates it and from 'Richo' as well. Those follow-up conversations – it had been a pretty intense week but those follow up conversations and the care. After three or four days of him processing it, it was a bit of a coming together and a 'let’s get on with it' and he took it on board,” Gieschen said.
"Clayton’s a good person and he cares. But the meeting with Goody settled it."
Oliver had a challenging year, playing 15 games and missing 10 weeks with a hamstring injury and also a foot infection. The discussion around his future begun at the end of Melbourne’s season, with rival clubs putting forward their interest.
Adelaide, Geelong, St Kilda, Essendon and Sydney are among the clubs who showed differing levels of interest in the 26-year-old, with Gieschen saying it was "genuine".
"The one thing I would say is that the clubs had genuine care about Clayton as a person. It wasn’t just about footy, it was 'is he OK? How’s he going?' - there was genuine care for him as a person and his welfare and to check in on him. Obviously it grew a bit of momentum. As the noise grew louder there were a couple of clubs that were proactive and it was genuine," he said.
"But at the same time it was only ever on the basis of if 'Clarry' wanted out or if Melbourne had lost patience with him and they were all very understanding of the situation. All were terrific clubs and really respectful and really understanding when it had all settled and it looked like he was going to stay."
There have been questions on the silence from Melbourne and Oliver’s management since the rival interest was revealed on Tuesday until Friday’s statement, but Gieschen said his primary focus was on Oliver.
"As a manager my first and only concern is looking out for Clayton and I've had daily communication with the footy club, we are all on the same page and were really clear on what the process was. That was my only concern at the time. It was a challenging week and I feel like we’ve got through it really well," he said.
"He's got some work to do, he knows he does, and he is trying and Melbourne has been amazing. Clayton’s had as much support as any player could – he’s so grateful of the support of Melbourne, the players showed great care, he’s got a great love for Melbourne. He’s really excited for the future."