Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse addresses his players at quarter time during the AFL Round 21 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Sydney Swans at the Telstra Dome. GSP Images
According to polls running on most footy websites yesterday, Mick Malthouse is the fans’ favourite to take over from Rodney Eade at the Western Bulldogs. After all, a move to the club where Malthouse began his coaching career would make a lot of sense.
The idea has a lot of romance about it and it probably won’t go away for some time.
And even though Eade’s axeing was only announced yesterday, the rumour has been floating around in the footy world for some time already, given the fact both of their coaching contracts were due to expire at the end of this season.
In fact I wrote a column on Malthouse’s future back in March and the first reader comment read: “If the bullies fail to make the grand final, Mick will be coaching there in 2012.”
However, at this stage, we don’t know who the Bulldogs are after and it seems nor do they.
Dogs chief executive Simon Garlick gave little away when he outlined they had no preference at this stage for the new coach.
Garlick said the new coach didn’t need to have a Bulldogs background, nor did they need senior coaching experience.
Dogs president David Smorgon added: “We have not discussed any possible replacement for Rodney and I want to make it clear that we did not assess Rodney against any possible replacement.”
Of course, the dust has barely settled on Eade’s axeing and I agree they’d be silly not to make an inquiry to see where Malthouse’s head is at now the role has opened up.
If it happened it’d be sensational for the Dogs, as we know Malthouse is a top coach. It’d be sensational for footy, as we know Malthouse is a interesting and polarising AFL figure who we want in our game.
But despite the romance of the idea, hasn’t this one been put to bed already?
It was only a month ago Malthouse fronted The Footy Show panel and categorically denied he’d be coaching another AFL club in 2012.
However, despite the denials, speculation has still lingered about Malthouse’s coaching future somehow. All this, despite the fact Malthouse called SEN Radio the day after his Footy Show interview to clarify: “I was saying categorically that it won’t be taking place. I don’t know how people can misinterpret that.”
Of course, the whole situation, whereby the coach of a side likely to win back-to-back premierships will soon be out of a job, is extremely strange. And it’s arguable that the odd nature of this situation has prompted people to misinterpret it, as Malthouse not coaching in 2012 in itself seems crazy.
However, that’s how it is and Collingwood and Malthouse have made that clear. It’s what they agreed to in July 2009 but the team’s successful fortunes since have murkied the waters.
So too has Malthouse’s explanation behind the decision at a time of his life when he was stressed by family matters.
In saying all that, simply from observing this whole saga from afar, it’s hard to believe Malthouse will never coach again. He may step aside in 2012, but in my opinion 2013 will be a different story.
Malthouse has already planted a few seeds suggesting he won’t be away from coaching for long.
He has already made it public that if he deems his new director of coaching role as irrelevant he’ll walk away from it. That’s an out he could use in 2013.
And then there’s the question relating to Malthouse’s passion for coaching and whether after a season away from the role it’ll be burning. Surely Eddie Maguire couldn’t begrudge him that.
But, of course, 2013 will be too late for the Dogs.
Maybe it’s time the rumour-makers started looking at which coaches are out of contract in 2013?
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