The Carlton Football Club’s acquisition of statesmen and football mastermind Mick Malthouse is a bold move that gives it every opportunity of achieving its first success in this century. However, the Blues must heed the risks and pitfalls that may lie ahead if best laid plans go askew.
Regardless of the change of guard, Carlton must not falter to bad habits.
Mick Malthouse’s reign must be overlooked with patience, with supporters and individuals within the club’s four walls accepting that the allure of high reward comes with an expected change of outlook.
Success under Malthouse isn’t in any way, shape or form guaranteed. The ferocious nature of the Carlton hierarchy must learn to keep itself in check, and understand that if cracks do begin to appear in the football department, Malthouse and his selected coaching squad are the best on hand to fix them.
The Carlton board must be barred from any football department interaction, bar signing off the checks.
Such meddling has ended the coaching tenure of everyone who’s ever taken the reigns of the Blues, since Robert Walls was installed as head coach in 1986. Regardless of the success, the fall of every coach since then has left an aftermath of chaotic infighting and the misdeeds of previous boards in the public eye.
Mick Malthouse will not tolerate the treatment and the contempt that Brett Ratten was held within his tenure at the club. Brett Ratten was considered the coach, but the board consistently second-guessed his appointments, which added to the friction that ultimately culminated in his removal.
In the press conference in which the Blues confirmed Malthouse as senior coach, he was adamant that this change of mindset at the Blues must occur.
“I don’t want people standing behind me” he replied when asked about the cohesiveness needed to attain success.
“I want people standing next to me, and we go forward together. And that’s inclusive of the playing group also.”
There’s strong doubt that the board would get up to the same tricks that have been a constant at Carlton for too long. Malthouse has a reputation and is a more authoritative figure. Ratten was not spineless or was an individual that lacked backbone, but it’s unlikely that Malthouse will fall into the pit of helplessness that engulfed Ratten and claimed numerous others since the 1980s.
The transition phase also cannot go without a hitch.
Malthouse has scouted the country far and wide for senior football acquaintances that he has gained in his years, and has asked those with supreme football intellect and experience to join him in his new venture.
Robert Wiley, Phil Matera and Glen Jakovich from his West Coast years have all been courted as potential assistant coaches. Cameron Ling was approached and denied one of three assistant coach roles on offer. Former assistants under Ratten, Alan Richardson, Mark Riley and Paul Williams, all have been paid out the remainder of their contracts, with Riley also taking up a role at the Gold Coast Suns.
According the football club’s financial review, Carlton has made sure it has fiscally covered itself during the moves and payouts. The funding for the coaching movements has come from a mix of donations from wealthy benefactors, alterations in current sponsorship deals and the pokies revenue deals that have been set up by Carlton board member and self-described ‘pokies king’ Bruce Mathieson.
The Blues now must act with patience and await the implementation of a plan by a well-travelled senior coach and his team. Regardless of if it brings the ultimate success or not, Carlton’s board and its supporters must be prepared to ride it out all the way and not react in haste.