How to fix the Blues

The Blues are now without a head coach after the sacking of David Teague.

Along with a handful of overpaid players that have failed to live up to their high price tags, Carlton now have not won a premiership in 26 seasons as pressure mounts on the whole organisation.

The Carlton Football Club have been a failing organisation for the better part of 20 years. They have had five head coaches in the last decade, which highlights their inability to make correct staff decisions. In those five sackings they had two hall of fame-calibre coaches in Mick Malthouse and Denis Pagan. Both coaches were not given even five seasons before they were let go.

How can such legendary coaches not be given a legitimate chance?

The culture is the key issue at the Blues. They seem to be living in the success of the past. The Blues have the most premierships in AFL/VFL history and they seem to be marvelling at that fact 26 years after their last grand final win. The Blues are in desperate need of innovation, starting at the board level and down to the playing group. It’s time to adjust to modern times and realise that they must change or face continued pitfalls.

The first thing that needs to happen at Ikon Park is the successful hire of veteran coach Ross Lyon. Lyon is the right man to help change the fractured culture at the club.

Ross Lyon

Ross Lyon. (Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Lyon is a strong leader who has a vast knowledge of the game and also has been successful at clubs that started in the same position that Carlton currently sits in. He took a poor and under-resourced St Kilda Saints to the finals against the odds. He then went to the Fremantle Dockers in 2016 and coached them to the grand final.

The Dockers were an expansion team and had only finished in the top four once before Ross Lyon started there. Lyon knows how to turn around struggling clubs, Carlton being no different. He is a must-hire.

Now they need to look at their underperforming roster. They must respectfully retire Marc Murphy, Ed Curnow and Levi Casboult. They have been admirable soldiers for the club, but their time to make way for the next generation is now. Then they need to de-list some inconsistent fringe players. They need to cut Lachie Plowman, David Cunningham, Jack Newnes and Marc Pittonet. These changes will regenerate the list and allow the incumbent coach to have the right tools available to him.

They need to add players at a number of key positions. The most pressing is the ruck role. Tom De Koning is currently playing in the ruck but is more suited to play mostly in the forward line and back up the starting ruckman. The Blues should trade for a ruckman that is under-appreciated at another club and that has had some experience in an AFL system.

The Brisbane Lions’ Archie Smith could be one option. Even the Dockers’ young ruck Lloyd Meek is a great option. If a trade is not forthcoming another viable option is using their second-round pick (24) on Geelong Falcons big guy Toby Conway. The 202 cm prospect has the ability to be a ready-made starting ruck for the Navy Blue.

Then they need to bring in a big-bodied midfielder to complement Sam Walsh in the engine room.

Sam Walsh runs with the ball

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

They hold Pick 5, which they should use on 190 cm midfielder Finn Callaghan out of the Sandringham Dragons. He will improve their contested ball numbers and give some much-needed grunt around the ball. These changes can give the club a finals worthy list.

When the playing roster is worked out, the club needs to look at their existing performance standards. Are the players working to their maximum capacity in the preseason? The Blues need to set high exceptions on work rate and this begins in the offseason.

The new coach must use Sam Walsh’s output as the benchmark. If players do not strive to meet this level then they need to be shown the door. Great clubs believe that no player is greater than the overall culture or system. Honest conversations are needed to ensure that the organisation makes the correct decisions for the betterment of their on-field success.

The Blues need to completely overhaul their current culture and forge a new path. The new system needs to be built around a team mentality and a high emphasis on personal responsibility. It’s time for the success of the past to stay there.

The Blues have a playing list that can challenge the league’s best, yet the question is can their organisational culture hold up against their rivals?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *