Sorry ‘Ratts’, but Malthouse is the man for the Blues
The finger shouldn't be solely pointed at Ratten for Carlton's tough year (Slattery Images)
Often a team will suddenly announce itself as a genuine premiership contender in a single dominant game, and Carlton did just that when they demolished Collingwood in April.
But by the end of this week the Blues’ season will be over, and Brett Ratten won’t be returning.
There is YouTube footage of a mulleted Stephen Kernahan, as Carlton’s captain, celebrating the 1987 Premiership by “singing” ‘Stand By Your Man’.
Yesterday, as the club’s President, he stepped away from his man Brett Ratten and is apparently getting ready to jump into the arms of Mick Malthouse.
The response to the sacking by club supporters has been scathing.
One has to feel sorry for Ratten who is clearly devoted to his playing group. He inherited a combination of number one draft picks and star recruit Chris Judd but he also developed many less talented players and has always suffered from a lack of key position personnel.
He suffered three heartbreaking finals campaigns, losing successive elimination finals by seven and five points respectively, and last year went down to West Coast by three points in a semi final.
The game against Collingwood was as perfect as it gets, reminding fans of the club’s dominant “mosquito squadron” that existed over thirty years ago. It was largely injuries that cruelled their season although the committment of the players was also questioned. They beat Collingwood again but lost to all other premiership contenders.
Rarely do people ask exactly what a head coach does these days. There are forward, defensive and midfield coaches who are usually ex-champion players. Collingwood, for instance, has a position that sounds suspiciously like a coach: a Football and Coaching Strategist, currently occupied by Rodney Eade.
Consequently it is difficult to know what real influence a coach has on the performance of the team.
But if Carlton want someone to take charge and lead them to a premiership then Malthouse is probably that man. Like most premiership winning coaches he was a dominant and creative figure overseeing all aspects from game strategy, to recruitment and player development.
Although his appointment is not confirmed Malthouse is clearly relishing the prospect of taking over, believing he can take the club to the next level.
When asked what he thought of its list yesterday the coach that took the Pies from the bottom of the ladder to the grand final in three seasons replied: “I think it has demonstrated it can win games of football against the best sides. It has demonstrated that throughout the year…probably the past two or three years really.”
More importantly, he has a presence that seems to motivate his players. He is both an authoritarian and a father figure.
Ratten has obviously been an important mentor to young players like Mitch Robinson – the two were seen hugging each other at training last night – but did not appear to be the sort to instill fear when it was required.