Chris Anderson - Sharks Most Wanted Man

The Sharks would be cutting their own throats if they let Chris Anderson leave Cronulla with his job only half done.

Apart from the fact the club can't afford the $400,000 or so payout to get rid of him, Anderson is, quite simply, the best man for the position.

Sometimes a club needs to take two steps back before advancing one step forward, and that's the case at Cronulla right now.

The Sharks signed Anderson for the express purpose of winning the club's maiden premiership, and for his pulling power as national coach.

He came last season on a three-year deal, which would be extended to five years providing he made the finals at least twice.

Cronulla's goal hasn't changed, either has Anderson's and there's no reason why the Sharks can't reach their holy grail in 2004.

If Anderson stays put.

Success-starved Cronulla fans have every right to feel disappointed at the Sharks' woeful season and it's understandable their patience is starting to wear thin.

But they must look at the big picture - and show the same faith that the players have maintained in Anderson during the team's frustrating run of outs this year.

The disgruntled minority of Cronulla supporters will argue Anderson has let far too many players go, particularly experienced three-quarters and back-rowers.

But the ambitious majority realise the loss of Nick Graham, Dean Treister and Chris McKenna, who left of his own accord, had their chances to help achieve premiership glory.

They, and a host of other veteran campaigners, missed ample chances and it was time for the club to move on without them.

Anderson's quest for a "winning culture" and preference to give a swag of unknown youngsters their big break won't pay dividends this season, but it may next year when major signings including New Zealand internationals Nigel Vagana and Andrew Lomu add some much-needed class and know-how.

It's worth remembering Anderson was responsible for luring Brett Kimmorley - the club's first star halfback since the late 80s - for the long haul.

The Sharks skipper and playmaker wouldn't have come for any other coach and has made it clear he wouldn't want to play under any other coach at Cronulla.

Last year, Anderson also recruited Phil Bailey, Cronulla's only State of Of Origin representative this season, along with promising five-eighth Greg Bird and highly-rated prop Danny Nutley, while South Sydney speedster Nathan Merritt is another of his key signings for 2004.

Even given the coach's more controversial decision to grant 2001 player of the year Preston Campbell a release, Anderson's credentials and wisdom cannot be questioned.

After achieving everything he could as a player, Anderson has won competitions in both hemispheres as a coach and guided Australia to the World Cup and numerous series wins over Great Britain and New Zealand.

All he wants now is the time and support to succeed at Cronulla.

The Sharks board would be foolish not to give him that.