In light of Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs making enquiries in to the list management of the club before making a decision on his future, one has to wonder whether there is more to this than a player just asking questions.
Since Carlton began competing in finals again, one criticism of their list is that they lacked a key forward that would take them a step further and compete for a premiership. They had Brendan Fevola, but his off-field indiscretions saw him and Carlton’s pick 27 traded to the Brisbane Lions in exchange for pick 12 and key position player, Lachie Henderson. Incidentally, Henderson has had success in defence and up forward for the Blues. Where he is best suited has yet to be determined.
Levi Casboult’s contested marking is brilliant, but his kicking is what prevents him from becoming the key forward they so desperately need. And what of Sam Rowe? Having only played 12 games under Mick Malthouse, it would appear he is well back in the pecking order behind the likes of Henderson and Jarrad Waite. They have tried to use other players such as Andrew Walker in this role with varied success.
While their midfield has the potential to be one of the better midfields in the league, a genuine key forward would compliment it nicely.
The absence of a decent key forward is one of many reasons as to why Carlton has been unable to live up to their self proclaimed hype.
We will never know if they approached Greater Western Sydney to strike a deal for the number one draft pick that would have delivered them exciting key forward Tom Boyd. What we do know is that if they did, whatever they offered wasn’t enough to satisfy the Giants.
Conversely, the players they were able to recruit could be considered surplus to their needs. Dale Thomas, a wingman and flanker, came with a hefty price tag and a suspect ankle. Highly rated young half back flanker Sam Docherty was keen to come to Carlton and will more than likely fill the void of Heath Scotland when he retires.
Meanwhile, wingman Andrejs Everitt doesn’t have the size to be a key position player at either end, but provides Carlton with a third tall. He has performed admirably thus far, but again, he wasn’t what they ideally needed.
Given the opportunities that have presented themselves to Carlton in terms of recruiting and trades, it is little wonder that Gibbs is questioning the direction that the club is heading in. From the outside looking in, it may look as though he is being somewhat arrogant given his output to date.
However, as he has been at the club for seven years during some fairly hard times, he must be wondering when the club is going to take the necessary steps to climb the ladder once more and experience sustained success.
There is quality on their list, however, it is untapped and unplayed. Young players such as Troy Menzel, Dylan Buckley, Cameron Giles, Patrick Cripps and Nick Graham all need to be playing as many games as possible. This approach may align itself with the notion of rebuilding.
However, if the club makes a stand and declares its direction with regards to list management – regardless of which direction that might be – then Gibbs will be able to make an informed decision on his own future.
What is clear is that Carlton need to make a decision on the direction the list is headed in and how they are going to achieve success. Gibbs’ questioning of the club’s direction may suggest a lack of faith; however, there is much uncertainty surrounding where the club is at and his queries would be based on this uncertainty.
If Gibbs, a player in the club’s leadership group this year, is having these concerns, one has to wonder who else might be feeling the same.
And that is a problem that the club can ill afford to have.
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