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Carlton’s 0-6 start to the 2018 season – with a percentage of 66.3 – is their worst ever.
Any assessment of Carlton circa Round 7 2018 requires an appreciation that the team is in the midst of one of the most intensive rebuilds in memory.
Let’s take a look back to when Brendon Bolton took the reins at Carlton at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
In short, Carlton was a mess in the wake of the Mick Malthouse disaster. They finished the 2015 season with four wins, a percentage of 64.8 and 10 losses of over 50 points.
Bolton inherited a basket case, which has to be taken into account in any evaluation of Bolton’s coaching position.
Since Bolton took over at Carlton, it has turned over 42 players, an extraordinary number when you consider that an AFL list comprises 44 players.
As a club, Carlton accepted the need to rebuild, primarily through the AFL draft, and appointed Bolton to lead that rebuild. In an era of unprecedented media scrutiny and impatient demands for success, Carlton deserves patience and understanding from Carlton supporters, lovers of the game and the media.
Following Friday’s loss to the Bulldogs Bolton addressed the situation stating that “it is frustrating because we want to win”. In light of this statement let’s have a look at the side that Carlton had face the Bulldogs on Friday.
They had nine players all aged 21 years or younger and with no more than 30 games experience. But what sort of future do these nine players have? Of these nine, we’ve seen enough to be confident that, seven have the potential to be consistent, high quality AFL footballers.
Zac Fisher (#27, 2016 Draft), Charlie Curnow (#12, 2015 Draft), Paddy Dow (#3, 2017 Draft), Caleb Marchbank (#6, 2014 Draft), Sam Petrevski-Seton (#6, 2016 Draft), Matthew Kennedy (#13, 2015 Draft) and Harry McKay (#10, 2015 Draft) were all out there on Friday night and at different stages have shown exciting glimpses of what the future looks like for Carlton.
All sides need their experienced leaders on field and playing well, especially a club in Carlton’s situation, however this has not been the case for Carlton. Considering Carlton’s absentees on Friday included injured trio: current captain Marc Murphy, vice-captain Sam Docherty and All-Australian ruckman Matthew Kreuzer.
In addition, 2015 number one draft pick Jacob Weitering – who is suffering from a quad injury and the added pressures that go with being the number one draft pick at a struggling club – has shown more than enough in his first two seasons to suggest he could be a long-term key defender. Speedy utility David Cunningham (#25, 2015 Draft and NAB Rising Star nominee 2017), highly skilled small forward Jarrod Pickett (#4, 2014 Draft) and young rebounding defender Tom Williamson, have meant that Carlton was seriously under manned on Friday night.
It is entirely unrealistic with the inexperience, youth and injuries that Carlton currently have to expect them to be winning and playing high-level football.
Bolton and Carlton must ultimately be judged on whether there is a crop of players that are developing and could form the nucleus for future success and whether Bolton is the man that leads Carlton through its rebuild?