ENTERING the final year of his contract, Stuart Dew says he is not concerned by the speculation surrounding his position, instead focused on guiding Gold Coast to its first finals appearance in club history.
Dew has coached four seasons at the Suns for a total of 19 wins and one draw from 83 matches.
Despite having 12 months to run on his existing deal, Gold Coast's 16th-place finish in 2021 and the availability of four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson has intensified scrutiny around his tenure.
Speaking to AFL.com.au, Dew said it probably affected people close to him more than himself personally.
Although Clarkson has categorically stated he will sit out coaching in 2022, his ties to Suns CEO Mark Evans from their days together at Hawthorn has ensured his name is never too far from Gold Coast coaching speculation.
"People are talking about him, but the guillotine sits over your head every week, it doesn't really matter who's available and who's not," Dew said.
"I know people say it's elevated because of him, but we're going to be judged on where the footy club goes and who's in the footy club, less about who's not in the footy club.
"It doesn't matter who's sitting there waiting, your job is to get the footy club better and that's where the energy needs to go.
"Every week there's scrutiny, you're under pressure and I'd be doing a disservice to the players and footy club if I was looking over my shoulder.
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"The priority for me is how do we get this team and club better. It gives me a good framework instead of reading all the different headlines."
Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane said at the club's best and fairest in early September the club's "single goal" was to play finals in 2022.
"That is our coach Stuart Dew's single task, a task we're all compelled to believe and commit to, both on and off the field," Cochrane said.
"The pressure is not just on one of us, we are a team and there is no 'I' in team. We are all in this together."
It's a sentiment Dew is comfortable with, saying he believes the Suns can break their own drought next season and make it to the top eight.
They will finalise their coaching structure in the next fortnight, but highly rated Bulldogs assistant Stephen King joined the Suns during the week, replacing Josh Francou who headed back to South Australia for family reasons.
"Every team that doesn't make finals is chasing down that finals berth. We think we can play finals," Dew said.
"A lot of things have got to go right for that. We can't lose a ruck in round three (like Jarrod Witts this year) and play finals.
"We need to maintain a healthy list, continue to improve players, but we certainly think there's a possibility we can play finals.
"We've got the capability, it's about ironing out the inconsistencies and having good availability."
Witts is back running after rupturing his ACL and will complete a majority of the pre-season, while vice-captain Sam Collins has undergone ankle surgery and should also do most of the work post-Christmas.
From a gameplan standpoint, Dew said there was one big area Gold Coast needed to address ahead of next season.
"At different times our ability to hold the ball in that forward 50 was poor," he said.
"Whether that's marking it, better fall-of-ball shape and our defence, how we set up in behind it.
"It's one thing getting it in, but it's actually holding it in.
"It's how much pressure we put on and then how we're set up behind the ball."