The Carlton coaching predicament: the demands of two radical sides

The rational answer will always lie somewhere between the views held by opposing radical parties. This logic can easily be applied to the current Carlton predicament.

In one corner, we have the fan base. This once proud group has become ashamed of their own club. Their actions speak volumes with barely 16,000 people in attendance to see an expansion club showcase a plethora of young stars that were the envy of their host. They are the same group which called for the sacking of Brett Ratten after an injury ravaged 2012, and now demand the same fate for the man formerly thought of as their savior.

On the other side we have the new and bullish Carlton administration. Led by Mark LoGiudice and Steven Trigg, these two are adamant on changing the cultural direction of the club. Both recognize the folly of previous hierarchies, who, according to club legend John Nicholls, did not know how to win without arrogance. Part of this cultural change seems to involve standing behind their coach. While this may be a noble gesture for a club which famously sacked Peter Jones in 1980 after finishing second place, it is a move which could be described as stubborn.

However, I think both parties need to understand each other’s motivations. The fan base want to ensure the club is going in the right direction, and they have understandably lost faith in the coach. The administration also wants to install structures which will deliver ongoing success, but they want to vanquish the demons of the past. One option that may satisfy both parties is by treating football like a regular industry, for once.

Usually, the AFL is far too driven by emotion and pretense. Knee-jerk reactions are what caused the demise of coaches such as Brett Ratten and Mark Harvey, and passion leads to appointments like Matthew Primus and Michael Voss. However, something more moderate could see all parties satisfied. Because the writing is on the wall so early in the season, the club should tell Mick Malthouse, and the supporters, that his contract will not be extended. But, this does not require him to be sacked on the spot. He could be given the option to see out his contract.

Instead of causing utter chaos by having an underqualified caretaker coach take over for the remaining games, you can keep structures consistent until a longer term replacement is found. Additionally, the match committee can be given a mandate free from Malthouse’s current plans. It will be without the weight of a coach who is trying to save a career, and the focus can turn to finding players which may be able to take the club forward.

Furthermore, it allows the club the broadest possible opportunity to find a replacement. Instead of starting a coaching search only weeks before the trade period starts, Carlton would be able to troll through the available options well before the season’s end, find a suitable candidate, and start formulating a rebuild strategy. This move is particularly advantageous if the club decides to appoint someone, such as John Worsfold, who does not currently work at any other club. His input could start with games in hand, and a side could be molded for the later rounds of this year with an eye firmly fixed on 2016.

Keeping everyone happy could be as simple as not being reactionary. Advising Malthouse that he will not be required after his contract expires would put supporters at ease, and it would allow the administration to honour his contract, which is symbolic of the cultural change that they are so desperate to install.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Wouldn’t this introduce the likelihood that Malthouse would pull the pin as a result anyway? Why would he want to continue if the match committee and he are at odds?

  2. Fooz Pietersen says

    If he decides to walk away the Carlton fans will get what they want right now: Malthouse gone. The administration would save face because they attempted to do ‘the right thing’ and the process would unfold as it would in any event.

    He would likely not leave straight away though, because if he resigns, he would forfeit the right to the $500,000+ which is outstanding on his contract.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Thoughtful piece, FP.
    the solution came to me while watching Offsiders on Sunday morning. Ange Postecoglou for next Carlton coach. He’s a Blues’ fan, a proven coach and a sound tactician and man-manager.
    Such a choice is also in keeping with Carlton tradition, when you sack the coach, go for a big name, high profile successor. Walls to Jesaulenko, Wayne Brittain-Denis Pagan, Pagan-Ratten, Ratten-Malthouse.
    The switch from Percy Jones to David Parkin also was consistent with that pattern, but Percy was a stop-gap and probably front man for Wes Lofts, when Jezza asked for a pay increase, and George Harris refused. Btw, Percy was sacked for committing the cardinal sin of losing straight set finals to Richmond and Collingwood, after finishing 2nd in the home and away season. That he also managed to have an on-field punch-on with opposing coach Tony Jewell (a very unconvincing one) at quarter-time in the loss to Richmond, probably helped mark his cards as well.

  4. Barb smith says

    Hello Fooz
    I am with you 100% on this strategy and yesterday I sent an email to the CFC Board pleading with them to do just this.
    We are like-minded!! We must meet!
    Are you going on Friday night??

  5. What do the supporters want ? If they lose Malthouse, and a care taker takes the reins for the rest of 2015, will they improve their on field performance ? I feel which ever way the Blues proceed it is a train wreck of their own making. To use an old adage, “you make your bed, you lie in it.’


  6. Dave Brown says

    Regardless of how it is achieved, will changing the coach at Carlton be like putting a new driver in a car with no wheels?

  7. Whilst sound in logic your plan sounds alot like a succession plan.
    Yeah nah Mick doesnt respond well to those.

  8. The Wrap says

    What are you talking about out there along Royal Parade. Get rid of Mick? He’s your man for the rebuild. With a heap of low order draft picks coming his way he can really do the job at Carlton. You stick with him.

    All the very best from the Richmond Cheer Squad.

  9. Brad Carr says

    Maybe Carlton’s form is all part of Mick’s master plan…

    At West Coast and at Collingwood, he took over a bottom side, and built it up from the ground in his own image. They were his sides, his players, committed and loyal.

    At Carlton, he took over a bunch of blokes who thought they were hot you-know-what, over-rated by their own supporters.

    Perhaps he’s worked out that the first step to building the place, is to destroy the place…???

  10. Fooz Pietersen says

    Thanks everyone for your responses.
    Peter – Yes that is ultimately the reason for Percy’s sacking, but I was more just referencing that lead us through such a successful season was dispatched without hesitation.
    Barb – Thanks for the support! I certainly will be at the game.
    Glen – Couldn’t agree with your proposition any more. There is a realistic chance that this season is already a lost cause in its entirety and that no amount of changes will alter that. But, that doesn’t mean that the season is worth nothing. Even if the performances don’t necessarily improve, they may be able to find out the true merit of the younger players and see which are worth persisting with. Also, if a new coach is brought in, they would be able to get a feel for the list which would help inform trade and drafting strategies. It’s simply not good enough to use the intel of the previous coach in the post season if they have obviously been dispatched for poor performance.
    Dave – In the absolute short term this is a very real possibility. Expecting wins to start coming would be silly, but that is not necessarily the point of changing a coach. You change the coach if you feel he is not able to fulfil the role, and in my opinion he is not. I would gladly write another article on this point if there was sufficient interest.
    Mal – absolutely not, but then again, I think the successor (in the previous case Nathan Buckley) can still flourish under that model, whether Mick likes it or not.
    The Wrap – I understand why you have that point of view, but I disagree. However, for the sake of argument, even if we decided to keep Mick: we should let him know as early as possible. Then, instead of playing out the remaining games in an attempt to keep his job, he would be able to employ a more long term approach as he would have the safety of his contract extension. That said, I think it may already be a foregone conclusion that Malthouse will not be at Carlton next year.

  11. Fooz Pietersen says

    Brad – Fair enough. Buckley at Collingwood has obviously tried to ‘put his stamp’ on the place as well, it is not uncommon. However, this is probably going to be his own demise as all of the whispers suggest that time has swiftly run out.

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    He’ll see out the season, Autumn that is.

  13. That made me laugh Swish.

  14. I read a similar story written by someone on the Herald Sun website.
    It was shorter and totally forgot the fans.
    Yours was much better.

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I was wrong about Mick seeing out Autumn.

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