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For so long, the number 16 has been the only thing which Carlton supporters could cling to for some sort of relevancy.

Taking that number and applying it to 2016, with apparently a “new Carlton” on the agenda, what must new coach Brendon Bolton address in his first season at the helm?

1. Take control

Carlton has been a club ruled by its board for its entire history. No matter who the coach was, the club went above in poaching players from other clubs and setting their own goals and standards. While this was all well and good in the 20th century, it’s time for Brendon Bolton to bring this club into 2015.

2. Change the culture on-field

Bolton needs to take this group of players and hold them to the same standards that are held at Hawthorn. That doesn’t happen overnight, and nor should Carlton fans expect it to happen overnight. However, 2016 needs to be the year where standards are built and every man is held accountable for his actions.

3. Change the culture off-field

Carlton is the most backwards club in the competition. From being the slowest club to embrace the draft to the enormous size of its board, these things hold the club back. Bolton needs to make the club his own: he shouldn’t let Jeanne Pratt or Bruce Mathieson stand in his way.

4. Be patient with the kids

Hawthorn does an outstanding job of giving their younger players ample time in the VFL to not only learn the Hawthorn style, but to earn their spot in the side. While Bolton won’t have the same luxury to do this at Carlton, he should still try and create a system where games are not gifted or guaranteed to anybody.

5. Embrace the pain

There’s going to be a lot of punishment coming the Blues’ way in 2016. This team is probably going to suffer a lot of losses while they rebuild this side. The players will need time to adjust to whatever Bolton implements and until then, Bolton – as well as the Carlton faithful – will need to stay patient.

6. Make sure Troy Menzel and Tom Bell stay at the club

No further comment required, it just needs to happen.

7. Assess everyone else

Bolton will obviously need to decide who he deems important and who is expendable. He has already stated that he will be giving everyone a clean slate to work with and this is the right approach, given some struggling players and different personalities thrive under new management. The next step is to cull anybody he doesn’t want at the club: ruthlessness is encouraged.

8. Make tough list management calls

The prime example here is Matthew Kreuzer. If Kreuzer gets a big money offer from another club during the free agency period, Carlton may be compensated with pick three in the draft and he would have to weigh up the value of that against keeping Kreuzer at the club. Kreuzer will be approaching the end of his career by the time Carlton is playing finals. It could be a win for all parties involved.

9. Convince John Barker to stay on

John Barker has a great relationship with the playing group and he has rightfully earned respect with his coaching performance in the second half of this season. Of all the coaches that came into 2015 with Carlton, Barker is the one who should remain in 2016.

10. Choose his own assistant coaches

Carlton has had to spend a lot of money paying out coaches in recent years, but if the club truly wants to move forward, they need to clean the slate one more time. While Barker should remain at the club, Bolton should have complete control over who he sits with in the coaching box. The change at Carlton needs to be total.

11. Invest heavily in the Northern Blues

Carlton’s VFL affiliate has lost a lot of its VFL-level talent over the last few years and it’s time it was replenished. While injury has crippled the Blues in the latter half of 2015, without a team of strong VFL players around them, the younger Carlton players will get thrashed again week in week out and that needs to be minimised. Look for them to try and include a lot of ex-AFL players into the side next season.

12. Change up the leadership group

This one is simple. Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson are the two best leaders at the club, underneath them currently is Bryce Gibbs, Michael Jamison and Sam Rowe. The Blues need to elevate Sam Docherty as well as possibly Dylan Buckley or Patrick Cripps into the leadership group and give them more responsibility at the club.

13. Move on older players

Chris Judd has retired and Andrew Carrazzo will probably be the next to announce his retirement, but Bolton will need to look at guys like Andrew Walker and Michael Jamison to assess whether or not they’ll have roles at the club in the coming years. Both players are rather injury prone and that may be taken into consideration.

14. Poach from his old club

Everything. Whether it be strategies, disciplines, leadership styles, or a boot studder he thought was particularly good – whatever he wants. Carlton did it when Malthouse took over, poaching from Collingwood: it’s time to try and do it again with Hawthorn.

15. Dig in

Carlton won’t be winning a flag any time soon. This is going to be a long rebuild with lots of ups and downs, and Carlton people aren’t exactly known for their patience. Bolton needs to be ready for that heat to come when it inevitably does and he needs to march on with his plan regardless.

16. And clone Patrick Cripps if you can

Two is fine, but if you can clone 20 or more, that would be the best way to warm yourselves instantly to Carlton supporters.


  1. Recruiting has been carlton biggest downfall over many years,this is why we need to nail this draft period and hopefully bolton can start the rebuild probably.

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