Who should replace Mick Malthouse?

Date: May 8, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

malthouse 1Mick Malthouse reached an epic milestone last weekend but it appears little prospect that he will be at the helm of Carlton again next year.

Indeed, it is reasonable to think that those at the pointy end of the Blues’ administration are already addressing their minds as to just who the club needs to take it forward over the next few years.

After years of either skirting the issue or at times even issuing strong denials Carlton finally uttered the dreaded ‘R’ word – rebuild – after its 71-point drubbing at the hands of West Coast in round two.

To quote club CEO Stephen Trigg, “Let’s be very clear about it … we have a significant list re-build in front of us”.

Since that comment was made the Blues have continued to struggle with its 17th position on the ladder heading into the sixth week of the season the result of a solitary win over 16th-placed St Kilda.

Some felt Brett Ratten, a former club skipper, was harshly done by when he was terminated at the end of the 2012 season. For the 255-game, triple best and fairest centreman it was a slow death.

Rumours had abounded in the dying weeks of the season that Malthouse had been approached to replace him after spending the season in the media. Ratten’s six-year tenure as coach, which was terminated with a year remaining on his contract, produced three finals series and an overall win-loss record of 50.4 per cent.

In 2011 the club won 14 games and drew one to finish the home-and-away season in fifth spot before thumping Essendon in an elimination final prior to a heart-breaking three-point loss to the Eagles in the semi-finals.

The club had reason for optimism but the following season saw it slip backwards with a win-loss of 11-11 leaving it in tenth spot and Ratten without a job.

Malthouse was seen as the man to get Carlton back into finals contention, and according to some within the club, even a tilt at the premiership.

For much of Malthouse’s reign he and those that mattered at the club continued to state that the squad had the capability to be a contender. Three weeks ago that all changed.

Malthouse says he wishes to remain at the club next year although his contract expires at the end of this season. Due to turn 62 in August, and given it appears from the CEO’s own admission the re-build will take some time, it would appear unlikely that Malthouse will be the man given the nod.

So just who will be on Carlton’s radar?

The Blues and their supporters are not the sort who are easy pacified by mediocrity which is what the club has offered in recent seasons – the only finals appearance under Malthouse was achieved by default when Essendon was removed from the 2012 finals series. Last year seven-and-a-half wins placed it 13th and the 1-4 start to this season does not augur well.

With 16 premierships Carlton sits equal first with Essendon as the most successful club in VFL/AFL history. But, alas for Blues’ fans, the last flag was won 20 years ago.

After the hype that surrounded the arrival of Malthouse, and the subsequent non-event it has proven to be, selling the next coach to the faithful will be a tough one.

Recent poor recruiting and questionable trades has left the club with little.

With Chris Judd on the way out and with few, if any, genuine A-grade players the rebuild is going be tough. And, it will take time.

Ideally the club would love to appoint a coach with a premiership record. Moving to an untried mentor will be difficult to get across to the supporters given what happened with Ratten.

Given Malthouse was lured from retirement with the rumour of a near seven-figure annual salary, and the fact the club had to also weather a $500,000 payout to Ratten, money may not be as larger issue as it would be for some other clubs.

Rumours have abounded towards the end of several recent seasons that Alastair Clarkson may be looking to move on from Hawthorn however it has never eventuated.

Paul Roos, previously Sydney’s talisman, is gainfully employed at Melbourne, albeit facing a task that will be similar to whoever moves into the Carlton role.

Chris Scott, with a premiership and a career win-loss record of 74 per cent at Kardinia Park, has declared his hand with respect to staying at the cattery.

John Longmire may be a target but the upside in the harbour city is far greater than at Carlton.

There are two former AFL premiership coaches who are not currently in the system – Mark Thompson and John Worsfold – and also former Port coach Mark Williams, who is presently the development coach at Richmond.

Of the three, if I was a decision maker at Carlton, I would make a concerted play for Worsfold. He has been out of the coaching caper for two years after following 12-year tenure at West Coast, the club he captained to premierships in 1992 and 1994. Turning 47 in September is he is still in his prime.

In 2002, he took over an Eagles side that had finished 13th and 14th in the two preceding seasons.

He immediately took them into the finals over the next three seasons before consecutive grand finals against Sydney – a four-point loss in 2005 and a one-point win in 2006. By 2008, the club had slipped to 15th and in 2010 secured its first wooden spoon. The following two years he guided the Eagles to fourth and fifth on the ladder.

He has proven that he can rebuild lists and also win a flag.

Pitchforking him out of Perth may be difficult but the dollars could prove too good to pass up. He would go back into the system refreshed and he would arrive at Princes Park with a solid knowledge of the club having been a highly regarded assistant there under David Parkin after he retired.

If he was to get the job I would not mind betting he would be on the phone to his great mate, Guy McKenna.

The pair would be an ideal fit for the listless Blues.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 7 May 2015, soliciting 108 comments

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