COVERING Carlton at the moment is like reading to your child at bedtime, it’s easy, not awfully clever, but it’s very necessary.
Friday week ago, on their coach’s night of nights, the Blues players’ presence was questionable. Sure, we sighted men, in navy jumpers, on the green stuff, but the hovercraft aside it was hard to distinguish the tangible difference between the selected 22 and Captain Carlton.
Collingwood are a decent side, no doubt, but they are far from a great side – the Carlton performance that night was indeed pitiful.
Never fear however, a Mother’s Day special against the lowly Brisbane will see their season’s win tally double and buy the club some much needed respite from the media.
Well, that didn’t go anywhere near to script did it?
Brisbane are nowhere near a good side this year even when playing at home, therefore opportunities to win away from the Gabba should be as good as a Toyota Corolla winning Bathurst.
Carlton did not play for their coach in the slightest in the final half hour.
The Lions wandered onto Etihad with nothing to lose, even less of a chance of winning and they started the game accordingly. Little were they to know the Blues would be just that bad that they would play Brisbane into a winning position, which they ultimately took advantage of by snatching the victory.
Four insipid quarters against their arch-rival nine days earlier, an equivalent first three quarters against the winless Lions, Mick Malthouse had the three-quarter-time huddle to evoke some sort of response out of his charges, to rally the troops, to overturn an eight-point deficit, arrest the tide and secure a much needed four points.
No matter what Malthouse bellowed, instructed, demanded, it either fell on deaf ears or they don’t have the attitude or application to carry out the instructions handed down.
Whichever scenario it may be it puts a marker on the coach, he has most certainly lost the players and you’d be a brave person to suggest he can win them back in an acceptable and viable time frame, let alone win them back at all.
Malthouse deserves much respect for what he has done in the game; his coaching career expands over four decades and he will be remembered as an ornament, his legacy will be beyond profound.
But no individual is bigger than the club, not even an individual that now holds the record for the most games coached in this grand old competition of 119 seasons.
Carlton president Mark Logiudice has gone on record time and time again this year insisting Malthouse will coach out the rest of the year no matter the circumstance. Are we about to test the strength of his convictions? Can Logiudice continue to live by his remarks for another 17 weeks? Is he prepared to delay the urgent recovery of this great club he governs by refusing to swallow his pride and do what’s best?
Carlton does not just simply have a poor list. Sure the management sent out an SOS and they’ve indeed hired an SOS, Stephen Silvagni, to come in and repair the list in what is going to take some time and some very clever wheeling and dealing.
But no matter how dire the talent or inept of confidence the playing group, your two best players touching the prune only three times between them when your coach is promoting and expecting a big final term rings alarm bells.
Captain Marc Murphy did not front up in the final stanza anywhere near where a league-standard skipper should. In time he may confess to an injury or some other form of trivial excuse, but a player of his well-accepted credentials should at least be involved in the play a hell of a lot more; to finish with one solitary final quarter disposal is pathetic.
Bryce Gibbs, he managed to double his captain’s fourth term output with two touches, but again his influence when the whips were cracking was as significant as a parent laying down ground rules for Schoolies.
Skill versus will, it’s a non-contest, something has to give, most especially if this is a trend that will be allowed to continue unabated. If Logiudice insists the coach will be the constant throughout the season then performances like the weekend’s will most definitely continue and the club will dig itself deeper and deeper into a hole.
It needs to be reiterated once more that no one individual is bigger than the club. Whilst everyone except Mark Stevens’ parents hold high praise for Mick Malthouse, true leadership means making the hard calls, not because they are easy but because they are hard.
Logiudice needs to think very carefully over the coming weeks what’s best for his club and the football public will see, should his Old Dark Navy’s continue to struggle, whether he has the courage to go back on his policy and do what’s hard, do what’s right
Carlton are a shambles and something needs to give.