Carlton should give Ratten one more year
The finger shouldn't be solely pointed at Ratten for Carlton's tough year (Slattery Images)
Prior to last weekend’s surprise win over Collingwood, the jungle drums were beating about the future (or lack thereof) of Brett Ratten as Carlton coach.
As they say, a week is a long time in football. Though Ratten clearly isn’t safe yet.
Talk of a Mick Malthouse or Paul Roos takeover is likely to reemerge after the Blues’ next loss, and will be intense if finals footy does not eventuate.
My view on this is simple: Maybe Ratten is the right man to lead Carlton to another flag, maybe he isn’t. But surely he’s entitled to a bad year.
Last year, there was some very public pressure from board level for him to win a final. If he didn’t do that, he’d most likely have been sacked then.
Now, he needs to take the next step again to avoid being crucified.
That may sound like a harsh description, but club president Stephen Kernahan could’ve gone a little further when he told Eddie McGuire, “Brett Ratten will coach to the end of the year.”
If replacing the coach is indeed the path Kernahan and the rest of the board decide to go down, it would show a remarkable lack of respect for Ratten. After all, how often do teams conveniently improve slightly year after year after year?
Honestly, it just doesn’t work that way.
If you are a side on the rise, you can almost be guaranteed a down year will happen at some point. Collingwood were five points away from a grand final in 2007, but struggled to get to a similar position again until 2010, the year it won the premiership.
Obviously Malthouse had a few more runs on the board than Ratten does now, but imagine if the Magpies decided he needed to be sacked after one of those poorer years.
Geelong provide a more extreme example. In 2006, their season was eerily similar to the one Carlton are enduring now. Pre-season hype was backed up by some strong early wins, but from there the wheels fell off and they couldn’t make the finals.
The Cats very nearly sacked Mark Thompson that off-season, but in the next three years he became a dual premiership coach.
If there’s a consistent trend that a coach is failing to deliver, by all means, pull the trigger.
But this is Ratten’s first year in charge of the Blues where the team is likely to go noticeably backwards.
They were a four-win team the year he took over in 2007. Then they were a 10-win team. Then they spent two years in that 7-8 range on the ladder. Then they finished fifth and won a final.
Yet one bad year and all of a sudden he can’t coach?
Give me a break.
It’s becoming obvious that some clubs buy a little too much into pre-season hype, and it’s those same clubs that get a little too intimidated by media pressure later in the season.
Perhaps the best approach is to ignore what’s written and instead, take a look at some not-too-recent history and accept no club has a perfectly smooth ride to greatness.
Besides, as last week showed, sometimes when things appear to be at their darkest, something unexpected is just around the corner.
Michael DiFabrizio is completing his journalism degree. As an AFL writer, he has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009, and appeared in The Age and on ABC television and radio. Follow Michael on twitter @mdifabrizio
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