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The Carlton success story that proves Clarkson isn't the man for every job

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28th June, 2022

Alastair Clarkson was the best coach in the game, but clubs shouldn’t walk blindly towards him for his previous achievements.

There have been examples this year where the younger coaches have excelled. Craig McRae is doing a great job. Sam Mitchell has shown plenty of positives despite Ben McEvoy, their number one ruck and captain, having been a big absentee.

The noise has steadily died down on Clarkson taking over from Stuart Dew at the Gold Coast. The Suns are currently playing the best footy they’ve ever played. They’re a more sustainable product now than when they had the best player in the competition.

Gold Coast have already made the mistake of taking a bet on the older experienced coach during the Rodney Eade era. If they miss the finals – which seems likely now – they’d be silly to go for Clarkson.

Carlton and Collingwood, two of the biggest clubs in the AFL, followed a process to get the right coach that suited their respective teams.


Although Michael Voss had coached before, he was very inexperienced when he took up the top job at Brisbane in 2009. With almost a decade having passed since he helmed the Lions, Carlton felt Voss was the best person for the role.

And Brisbane picked him over the ‘big name’ of Ross Lyon, who had taken two different teams to grand finals. It’s evidence that a lesson had been learnt: in 2013 Carlton got the biggest name in the game, Michael Malthouse, only for the coup to backfire.

North Melbourne, who are in a world of hurt at the moment, could contact Clarkson. The positive of Clarkson going to the Kangaroos is that it would put them into the limelight, with North often playing off broadway.

That said, I don’t know if Clarkson is the right person to start a rebuild. He never really had to rebuild Hawthorn; he prioritised trades to try and challenge again and again, year after year.


Alastair Clarkson’s credentials prove that he was a better coach than Lyon and Eade. He might turn out to be another success. I just don’t know if going back to the best coach of ten years ago is going to help a team move into the future.

Who knows, today’s struggling clubs might find the next Alastair Clarkson if they looked for him.