David Teague was appointed coach of the Carlton Football Club on August 15th, 2019, with a coaching record of five wins and four losses, replacing Brendon Bolton who only managed to secure three wins in his last year and a half at the club.
Now in 2021, Teague seems likely to face the axe with a win percentage below fifty percent. The optimism that once filled the navy-blue faithful has all but vanished as Carlton continues to toil away in the bottom half of the ladder after undertaking a five-year rebuild that is now gone into its sixth year.
It is now clear that David Teague is not the man to take the Blues to their 17th premiership which means a replacement needs to be found quickly, to take advantage of the talented list that has been built at Ikon Park. Former Adelaide Crows Coach, Don Pyke may be the answer that the club and all its supporters have been looking for.
Statistically, Don Pyke is an extremely talented coach with a win percentage of 60 percent in both the home-and-away season, and finals. Though he was unable to lead the Crows to victory in the 2017 grand final, they did finish on top of the ladder at the end of the season thanks to a percentage of 136, the highest of any team that year.
Now serving as an assistant at the Sydney Swans, Pyke’s naturally aggressive tactics are a key reason why the Sydney Swans have gone from finishing sixteenth in 2020 to competing for a spot in the top four in 2021.
In this way, he has some similarities to David Teague, in that they both have aggressive mindsets. A key difference between them, however, is that Pyke has shown how to find better success with that style. The former Eagle has won three finals from five appearances, whereas Teague is still trying to find the right balance between offence and defence, with no appearances in finals in his two and half seasons of coaching.
Appointing Pyke may be a brilliant move by the Carlton board because of his previous relationship with Teague. The 2004 John Nicholls Medallist served under Pyke as a forwards coach during the Crows finals campaigns. Pyke would therefore convey a similar message to that of Teague.
Rather than reinvent how Carlton play he may strengthen and develop their tactics and structures, bringing the best of the 2017 Crows to the Navy Blues.
It wasn’t just the game plan that made Pyke a good coach though, it was also his hard edge. Something that Carlton is clearly missing as seen in Round 19 against North Melbourne, where they lost the game by 39 points and even lost the tackle count despite having 60-seven less possessions than their opposition.
This follows a trend for 2021 as Carlton has only won the tackle count four times out of their eighteen matches. Don Pyke and his harder edge would be beneficial to the Blues and help them display a ruthlessness that hasn’t been seen since their premiership years.
Possible negatives to Pyke taking over as coach of the Navy Blues include his overly aggressive tactics. Much like David Teague, Pyke prefers offence, probably a little too much, however, his time with John Longmire, a more defensive focused senior coach, may have influenced his coaching style and shown him how valuable a good defensive system is.
Pyke’s relationship with former Adelaide players like Mitch McGovern and Eddie Betts may also be a negative influence on him becoming the Carlton Coach.
However, it was under his former coach that McGovern played the best football of his career; form that he has been unable to recapture since parting ways with Pyke back in 2018. Perhaps, being coached by Pyke again may bring out the best in the 26-year-old forward? And as for Betts it is unlikely that he will continue after 2021.
Should Carlton move David Teague on at the end of the 2021 season, Don Pyke would be the most ideal replacement. He has the ruthlessness to take Carlton back to the top of the ladder and to premiership success, something the ‘famous old Dark Blues’ have been striving for, over the past twenty-five plus years.