Nowhere to hide

It’s happened. The transformation within is complete. There is some way to go on the field, but inside the rooms it’s well and truly implemented. This is why Carlton fans and bosses wanted MM.

We’ve been building for years, ever since Ratts took the full time gig and he did a mighty job too in my opinion. He played a major part in hauling a depleted side into the top 8 and making them competitive again. Don’t forget he lost one of the greatest full forwards of the naughties and found a way to continually move up the ladder. Take Lance Franklin out of a very strong Hawthorn side 4 years ago and Id be interested to see how they might have fared since.

But something still niggled at the Carlton heir-achy and its supporters – year after year Brett Ratten was pilloried when Carlton came up short despite the fact that had he been able keep a few key players on the field in 2012 he would have had the Blues in the top 8 again. No doubt in my mind at all. But they wouldn’t have won the premiership would they? And likely they still would have dropped the type of games they did last Friday night against Essendon. So in essence what’s changed since Mick came on board? We have the same win-loss ratio, a loss to a struggling St Kilda and apparently, according to just about everyone inside and outside of footy, plenty of potential. So what’s changed? Why aren’t there calls for Malthouse blood, just a drop? His list is certainly much healthier than his predecessors at the same time last year.

You had to listen to Chris Judd’s media conference prior to his 250th game very carefully to hear what the change is. When asked if there was concern amongst the playing group that there’s a tendency to lose close games he replied and I quote:

“It’s not luck that causes you to lose close games, it’s skill and all those things that you work on during the week. They’re the difference between winning and losing those close games.”

Pretty generic I hear you say? At first glimpse yeh it is. You’d expect it to be a stock standard answer for any footballer asked such a question. Except I have never ever heard a Carlton player or coach say such a thing post-loss in my living memory. Ever. And I’ve been listening for it. I’ve never heard it uttered from a Carlton mouth when trying to explain why the team has yet again fallen below expectations. I’ve heard Jamo jump on SEN and apologise to supporters, I’ve heard Ratts talk about being in the mix and players losing confidence to be creative off the half back flank but I’ve never heard a player or coach simply put it down to work ethic. Something they can control.

This is Mick Malthouse’s legacy. He believes and I’ve questioned his theory before, that you make your own luck. You can control the uncontrollable. His famous line down in the rooms post Grand Final loss to a battered Collingwood team, “Did some of you not come out of the trenches?” What a parting shot that was to 22 guys we know he loved.

He is an expert at drilling down into the game and its minute detail, finding the fatal flaw and then tasking players to NOT let it happen again. He instructs them what to do next time they are in the same situation. A number of Carlton players have commented this week that they lost a game they should have won. I’d be offended if I were a Bomber. There’s been no mention of them winning the game. I get the feeling there’s been very few pats on the back for their first half or for nearly hanging on against a potential top 4 side. Even Lachy Henderson who has been flawless for us in every game was scrutinised for his tired kick to Chris Yarran which resulted in Essendon’s winning goal. I thought that most unfair but Malthouse didn’t and this is why Carlton hired him.

He expects perfection from his team and he teaches them how to attain it. When they are well off the pace they are dismissed, temporarily at first and then who knows, we’ll need to look to the off season for what his real thoughts are on some of our current list. I fear there will be plenty of (quality) scraps for other clubs to pick at.

Mick Malthouse has had his way with the Carlton team. They are transformed from within. They believe that winning has nothing to do with talent. They believe it has nothing to do with late surges. They think it has nothing to do with pace. They know to a player what is required of them and when they do or don’t meet those standards. Chris Yarran thought a couple of 100 metre sprints into an open goal might have made up for the fact….I heard Chris Johnson say last night on the Marngrook Footy Show that opposition coaches would much rather Yarran playing one quarter of footy with a bad attitude than 4 with a good one. Mick Malthouse’s jaw would have hit the ground. He’d rather he become a Northern Blue in red if those are the choices.

You might have read all this as a Geelong supporter or a Hawks or Swans supporter and dismissed it all as obvious. These words are not for you – you lucky bastards. These words are for us. Carlton supporters who watched our team tank its guts out to acquire the best talent under 19 years of age only to see the potential become just that – potential.

Mick Malthouse is not interested in potential, he’s interested in accountability and fixing problems until there aren’t any. You may disagree with his method, I know I certainly have, because I think there IS an element of luck in winning or losing the close games but then that’s why I got out of footy early on. I kept on being really unlucky. I’d have never have coped under a bloke like Malthouse. I’m looking forward to seeing which of our guys will tonight against the Hawks.

Comments

  1. I reckon you are on the money JR. As a dispassionate observer I have been impressed with the Blues against the Bombers and Hawks. I thought the players were working hard to achieve their potential, rather than the soft skilful team of recent years.
    They just looked a good big man/forward off a top side, but you couldn’t question the effort. All that any fan could ask.
    Personally I would have Mick in the Old Dart sorting out the Ashes shambles. Carlton deserve Mickey Arthur.

  2. jerry rinse says:

    Agreed Peter. Roughy and Buddy showed the way whilst Levi and Waitey struggled. Interestingly, both the Bombers and Hawks have nullified our little blokes so when none of our forwards fire we are in big trouble – obviously. Our midfield arent noted for kicking snags. Please note however, this fan asks a bit more than effort….

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