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The leading candidates to coach the Blues

The leading candidates to coach the Blues


“Who can it be now? Who can it be now? Who can it be now? Who can it be now?”

The famous lyrics of the hit single by Men at Work sums up the minds of many Carlton supporters right now, after it was reported on Thursday afternoon that Ross Lyon had pulled out of the running to be the 35th coach of the Navy Blues.

Now that the board has assembled a panel to consider Carlton’s new coach, Lyon has elected to remove himself from contention.

Though initially this can be viewed as a disaster for Luke Sayers and the Carlton Football Club, it could also be seen as a blessing in disguise.


The process of selecting a coach through a panel will likely result in finding the right person for the job, rather than simply picking someone with a big name who may not have the same passion as someone who goes through the process of interviews, à la Mick Malthouse in 2012.

At first glance it may feel as if there are barely any options left to coach the once great Carlton Blues. However, there are some potential coaches available that may have both supporters and the club excited for the future.

Adam Kingsley
The Richmond assistant was said to have been runner up to Craig McRae for the top job at Collingwood. Now that the Blues’ senior coaching gig may be available to him, would Adam Kingsley be interested in it?

The former premiership player has gained a wealth of knowledge throughout his years as an assistant coach, having served under Mark Williams, Ross Lyon and Damien Hardwick.

Under Hardwick is where Kingsley was able to experience the most success – being part of two of Richmond’s three flags in the past four years (2019 and 2020). These experiences with a successful system would likely interest Carlton greatly.

Adam Kingsley

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Although Sayers was on record saying Carlton wanted an experienced coach, Kingsley has spent 13 years serving as an assistant and still brings an abundance of experience, just not as a senior coach.

Having been awarded the AFL Coaches Association’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2015, Kingsley clearly has a talent for coaching and would be a good get for the Baggers.

Former Richmond assistant Justin Leppitsch spoke on AFL Nation earlier this year and was extremely complimentary of his former co-worker.

“He’s terrific. If you talk about wanting to be a senior coach, this guy studies, he goes overseas, he asks everything, he’ll leave no stone unturned to get a job,” he said.


Having just missed out on the Collingwood position, Kingsley’s desire for coaching has likely never been greater, and could therefore be a good fit for Carlton, who have been starved of success for a quarter of a century.

Nathan Buckley
This would be the most unlikely appointment of a coach perhaps in the history of the game if it were to happen.

Nathan Buckley’s resumé speaks for itself. As a player, the Collingwood champion has been a Brownlow Medallist, Norm Smith Medallist, the Rising Star and a seven-time All Australian.

He also won six best and fairest awards at the Magpies, where he played for 13 years with a total of 260 games in the black and white.

As a coach Buckley was awarded the AFL Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year in 2018, when he coached Collingwood into the grand final after finishing 13th on the table the year prior. Overall, he has a winning percentage of 54.13 per cent.

Nathan Buckley, coach of the Magpies, looks dejected

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Carlton’s lack of defensive ability would be no issue under Buckley. He was often criticised for having a game style that was too defensive at the Magpies. On paper Buckley is almost the perfect man for the job from the available candidates.

The biggest issue for the former Collingwood captain would be his relationship with the Carlton faithful. They have spent years booing him and the club that he loves. And the last time a former Collingwood great became the senior coach, the Blues were left with a five-year rebuild that’s now into its sixth year.

There would have to be a lot of work done by Buckley to gain the trust of the supporters.

His personal relationship with new club president Luke Sayers could indicate that the club are interested in getting the Collingwood Hall of Famer to don the navy blue.


“Nathan is someone I speak to quite a bit… he’s a friend of mine and a terrific coach,” Sayers said.

Despite the unlikelihood of it being accepted by Carlton people, Nathan Buckley is exactly what the club needs. He has a defence-focused game plan, a hard edge and an ability to build strong relationships with his players.

He may not be the popular choice, but if he were chosen, he would likely help Carlton into the finals for the first time since 2013.

Michael Voss
Michael Voss (like Adam Kingsley) was in the running for Collingwood senior coach before it was won by his former teammate, Craig McRae.

Voss is one of the greatest players to ever run out onto a footy field. The former Lions captain led his team to three consecutive premierships and four consecutive grand finals.


As a player he has achieved almost everything, including five All Australians and a Brownlow Medal. As a coach he was not as successful. From his five years coaching at the Lions, he only had a winning percentage of 39.91 per cent, and a 50-50 finals record from the one finals series.

These records are admittedly unspectacular, however, since then Voss has gone on to be an assistant to Ken Hinkley at Port Adelaide. His former teammate Jonathan Brown thinks this will benefit him if he were to be a senior coach again.

“He’s gone back and done a long apprenticeship at Port Adelaide, he’s been there for quite a while. He’s going to come back a better coach for the experience,” Brown said.

With deep finals experience as both a player and assistant coach, the former two-time AFLPA MVP award winner would bring finals experience and expectations to the Blues, something that Luke Sayers has already put on the agenda for Carlton in season 2022. Not to mention a ruthless attitude that may bring a spark back to the men in navy blue.

Michael Voss of the Lions in action

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)


Adem Yze
The man currently in charge of the star midfield at the Melbourne Demons, Adem Yze may not have experience as a senior coach but like Adam Kingsley, he has long-term experience and success as an assistant.

Yze was an assistant under Alastair Clarkson during the triple premiership era at the Hawks. If he were to coach Carlton, he would slot in beside fellow Hawthorn and Melbourne alumni Cameron Bruce.

This pre-existing relationship may allow him to have a strong relationship with his assistant coaches, which would likely only strengthen the team’s performance.

Yze is also known for having strong relationships with his players, something that has helped strengthen the Demons in season 2021. Former four-time premiership player Jordan Lewis believes that his ability to create strong relationships is why he would be a good coach.

“Because everyone that’s been coached under him and had relationships with him has enjoyed his company and he’s got a sharp football brain too. He’s got a really good balance,” Lewis said.


Having completed a level four AFL coaching course, the former Demons player would likely bring high standards and success to the Blues, like he has with the minor premiers this year.

Brad Scott
A two-time premiership player at the Brisbane Lions, Brad Scott became senior coach of North Melbourne in 2010. He would go on to coach nine years at the Kangaroos with a winning percentage of 50.24 per cent.

He never managed to finish the home-and-away season in the top four, however, he was able to get the Shinboners to consecutive preliminary finals in 2014 and 2015. This makes Scott the only AFL coach to reach a preliminary final after finishing eighth in the home-and-away season.

Brad Scott

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

These performances show that he was able to get the most out of a list that many believed was mediocre at best.


Luke Sayers and Carlton believe that their current list should be playing finals. If the Blues are indeed a finals side, then Brad Scott would be the perfect coach to get the most out of the current batch of Carlton players, potentially taking them deep in finals.

Caroline Wilson has reported that Carlton have spoken to Brad Scott, and she has previously spoken about his interest in coaching.

“I’m hearing from people at the AFL that perhaps Brad hasn’t lost the hunger to coach,” she said.

Scott himself also spoke earlier in the year on 3AW about how he feels about coaching.

“It probably fluctuates… I love coaching, I’m still in touch with the game and still analyse the game, albeit not with the same veracity as I did as a senior coach,” he said.


If Scott decides that he does want to coach again, then Carlton would likely be a great fit for him. He brings finals success as both a player and coach. He understands the standards that are required to succeed. He is ruthless and is loved by his players.

If Brad Scott were to coach Carlton next year, they would likely play finals.

Chris Scott
The only active coach on this list, Chris Scott has been the coach of Geelong for the past decade. He has a winning percentage of 69.11 per cent and has coached the Cats to the finals in nine of his 11 seasons as coach, with eight of those nine appearances being top-four finishes.

The fact he has only been able to win one premiership in this period has left the support base frustrated. If the Cats were to have another unsuccessful finals campaign – which seems likely – a fresh change for both the club and coach may be in their best interest.

If this were to occur, Carlton would jump at the chance to get Scott because of his success as a player and coach. Most Carlton supporters are extremely envious of the sustained success that Geelong has had over the last decade, so it is likely they would endorse Scott if he were open to a stint at Princes Park.


Caroline Wilson connected Chris Scott to the Collingwood job earlier this year.

“I hear Chris Scott has even come into their mind,” she said.

“I don’t think Chris Scott will leave Geelong but I think there are people at Collingwood, who’ll be making those decisions who’ll be looking at all those names.”

If Carlton able to attract the interest of Scott it would be an almighty coup. You could even liken it to Fremantle’s recruitment of Ross Lyon at the end of 2011.

Though Scott leaving is incredibly unlikely, Luke Sayers would be remiss to not at the very least see if he’s interested. The appointment of Scott would bring instant success and potentially even a premiership, much like his first year at the Cats.


Each individual has their own pros and cons, but which will suit Carlton the best, and be appointed the 35th coach of the Navy Blues?

That’s an important question for Luke Sayers and the rest of the Carlton coaching selection panel to answer.