Carlton should look to Bassett if Ratten gets the flick
Languishing in the wilderness that is the bottom eight, the Carlton Football Club and it’s fans must be in a state of numbness.
Since this time last year, we were all penciling them in to our 2012 top four lists, and many were starting to envisage the very prospect of a modern day classic match between some VFL heavy weights.
Carlton v Hawthorn or Essendon was an easy to imagine scenario, and the tantalising, downright mouthwatering match-up of Collingwood v Carlton was almost within reach.
What the hell happened?
Well, whatever threw Carlton’s season into free fall is now irrelevant. Injuries, poor form and perhaps an over reliance on too few (cough Chris Judd cough Marc Murphy cough) have all been touted, but we all know these factors are never held responsible for a teams fall.
We all know that dubious honour falls on the coach.
And let’s face it, Carlton haven’t made it easy for themselves.
Declaring themselves publicly and probably privately (it’s impossible to not understand how good you are after a while, just ask Jason Akermanis circa 2004…and 2012) a top-four team, and revealing that anything else would be a failure leaves yourself in the same position that David Smorgan so famously left his own club in recently.
Smorgan’s public expectations left the Bulldogs with no choice but to cut Rodney Eade loose, and many now believe the same fate awaits Brett Ratten.
I would argue Ratts is doing a Mark Harvey over a Rodney Eade, but that doesn’t really matter. To reach where the club should be, he’d have to do a Steven Bradbury and that’s just not going to happen.
So who takes over? I hope for the sake of the club that Ratten keeps his job, I have a lot of respect for the man, but we know that’s not how this process works.
The name on every ones lips is Malthouse and rightly so. The great man is one of the best coaches of the past two decades and is wasted in the commentary box.
But lets not forget the other contenders.
Nathan Bassett, the former Adelaide defender and current Norwood coach, should be second on Carlton’s wish list.
The man has, since taking up coaching, proven that he belongs in the head job. His revival of SANFL club Norwood was nothing short of remarkable, taking them form also rans to a Premiership in 2010.
That year’s draft was the time for mature age rookies and Norwood was at the forefront of this, providing Paul Puopolo to Hawthorn, Nick Duigan to Carlton, Matthew Panos to the Bulldogs, Nick Lower to Fremantle and youngsters Roland Ah Chee and Daniel Gorringe to the Gold Coast.
Despite losing all of these names to the big league, Norwood’s last two years have been more than impressive. This is where Bassett’s skill lies; turning coal to diamonds, and tough, honest football.
Carlton’s list is, when fully fit, nearly perfect. On the back of a finely tuned midfield, run by work horse Judd and mercurial Murphy and supported by a vastly improved back six and forward line. The club needs a coach that won’t rock this boat too much.
A Malthouse-run team and a Ratten-run team will look vastly different. For a good example, take Melbourne.
Mark Neeld begins his tenure at Melbourne with the Malthouse model of hard defence with extreme pressure and rolling zones, complemented by solid skills by hand and foot in the counter attack. For the young Demons, this did not compute, and they now look another 2-3 years behind where they were last year. They must not only adapt the current players to the new game plan but also scrape the barrel to find the blokes who can.
Another example, perhaps more astute, is Ross Lyon at Fremantle. Ross arrives with his own tried and true method and applies it a team simply not used to the style. A top-eight contender turns into a log in the log jam between eighth and 12th.
Introduce Malthouse to Carlton and I guarantee the Blues will not play in a premiership in 2013.
However, introduce a coach that will promote work ethic, a simple game plan to adopt and a focus on turning underachievers into elite players, we have a situation not unlike Adelaide.
The list was always there for Brenton Sanderson to work with and achieve success, all he needed to do was nurture it in the right way.
Bassett is another rookie coach who, while lacking the apprenticeship that a powerhouse Sanderson had, could take a ready made team, apply the simple game plan and correct coaching methods, and achieve success.
There’s nothing much worth changing with the Blues. As the old saying goes, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”. But in the case of Carlton, the saying should go “If it looks broke, don’t break it any more”.