The Blues and Tigers face dangerous weeks after shocking Round 15 losses
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse in action against Collingwood. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: Herald Sun
WHILE no coach likes to lose, Carlton and Richmond’s results would have especially stung their respective coaches last week.
After a defeat where nothing seemed to go right, the coach must be quick to collect his thoughts. The most dangerous period of the week – and, in fact, a coach’s career – can be directly after a shocking loss.
The walk from the coach’s box to the changerooms is long and this time must be used to compose yourself and work through what you will say to the team.
Many thoughts are running through your head, including what the assistant coaches would have said during the game – mostly uncomplimentary – to the players.
However, I found the best course of action is to say nothing because there is often nothing positive to say.
All coaches know once you start to open your mouth it is hard to shut it and it is in these moments that relationships can be permanently broken. The other upside to saying nothing is it gives you breathing space to look at the game closely and have a much clearer picture of what went wrong.
Both coaches would be asking themselves if the result was an aberration or there were some worrying trends that need to be addressed.
Damien Hardwick could justify stamping the North Melbourne game “aberration”, but not Mick Malthouse after the loss to Collingwood.
Carlton appears to have some serious problems. I had the Blues comfortably finishing in the eight and, if their best 22 was fit and available, as it has been for most of the year, pushing for top four.
Yet this week’s discussion has centred on the Blues’ list and its “many holes”. How can a team that has had so many early draft picks claim to have a poor list?
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: Matthew Kreuzer of the Blues takes a mark during the round ten AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Etihad Stadium on June 1, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images) Source:
Most of those players taken with early picks were rated extremely highly by all recruiters. Clearly the Blues have made some list management errors and, if they had traded some early picks, might have won a premiership by now.
However, to blame their recruiting department is a cop-out. On the list of current problems recruiting is a long way down.
The game against the Magpies again exposed a number of areas that have become a worry for Mick.
In the past four games, the Blues have punished just 16 per cent of opposition turnovers with a score, the second-lowest percentage of any team.
It would appear the Blues’ down-the-line, conservative approach is stalling the team.
It is something Mick talked about earlier in the season and I’m sure it would have been a source of discussion this week among the coaching staff.
The Blues have trailed at three-quarter time on six occasions this season and have failed to finish in front in any of these games.
Is this a result of poor fitness or, again, because of the struggle the team is having with conservative ball use?
Carlton has the second-worst kicking efficiency in the defensive 50 this season, again, a worrying trend.
Mick must continue to work on the game plan and develop the list. There should be no talk of 2014 and trading until he can determine what this group can do.
I suspect the group is capable of much better than it has produced and that is the coach’s test.
The Tigers, on the other hand, are competent in most areas – if not a standout – and that’s why Damien would have looked at last week’s game as something out of the ordinary.
Ironically, they had 73 tackles against North and this is their weakest area (54 average).
The Tigers have done a lot right this year and I will be looking closely to see how they bounce back today against Gold Coast, a team they have never beaten.