After narrowly missing the finals last year, by one point and after losing their final four games of the year, there was no doubt that Carlton was expected to play finals in 2023.
That looked almost a certainty when the Blues started the first four rounds with three wins and a draw. We are now past the halfway mark of the season, and remarkably the Blues have lost six of their last seven games to drop to 13th place. Their fans are getting fed up. They have been starved of success for years and it seemed to be impossible for the Blues to miss the finals, considering they didn’t lose in the first four.
But they have had a horror run of humiliating losses that all began with the Adelaide Crows, and the only win that has come in this time has been against a depleted West Coast. Friday night’s loss to the Sydney Swans was the Blues’ fourth in a row. With games coming up against Melbourne and Essendon, it is likely the Blues will be out of finals contention by the end of these next two games.
This is quite simply an unacceptable position for the Carlton Football Club to be in now and finals seem out of the question as the club is struggling on field and struggling to get any kind of competitiveness. Finals were the minimum expectation for the Blues this year who have been building under Michael Voss, but the clock is running out for him and the president no question. The club clearly needs a reset, which means clearing out some staff in order to get better leadership. There are also definitely players that need to be reviewed on if they are reaching their potential and if trading them for better draft picks come season end.
They have a list that is capable of making the top six, but right now they are playing a bottom four side brand of football. This is not a position the club should be in, considering how many years they have built. Their rebuild started in 2016, they still were wooden spooners in 2018, struggled up till 2022, where they narrowly missed finals by percentage and were expected to be top four-six contenders this year. But the on-field failures are starting to create tension within the club. President Luke Sayers came out last week and said that Michael Voss was safe until the end of 2024 when his contract expired.
Craig Mathieson resigned as director. This will not be the first board member that leaves given where Carlton is at right now, on the decline and very likely to miss the finals for the 10th straight year. Things are looking dire.
How can Voss possibly survive this? The supporters are growing impatient, and the club is clearly looking very unprofessional in how they are handling things. They are the centre of the media attention because this is a side that was supposed to be playing finals long ago. Now they are looking like they will go backwards in order to go forwards because with what they have right now they are not getting anywhere.
They have a forward Harry McKay, contracted until 2029, who can’t even kick one goal in a must win game and he’s not improving his game. Everybody else has worked out Charlie Curnow and Patrick Cripps. They have a Brownlow Medallist in their side plus a Coleman Medallist. But it just seems that all the talent is not reaching its potential by a long way.
How can the club let Voss and the president, Luke Sayers survive this sinking ship? It seems only a matter of time before the two of them are out of the door and Carlton replaces yet another coach. It seems the reality is that it is going to get worse for Carlton before it gets better. It seems that this year it is unlikely that they will be breaking a decade-long finals drought and it is starting to come into question just how much longer they will wait. It could even be up to 2026 at this rate.
They have the list, but it is just clear that the talent is not being managed by the right people. It appears that the end of the year cannot come quickly enough for Carlton. Carlton needs to use this off-season to do a massive reset again and clean out of the club, find better people to manage the talent, get some talented draft picks through the door and just figure out what is going on at the club. Whether that means replacing the head coach, or key personnel, such as the president and board members. Also could mean they make some big list decisions for who stays and departs. For example, is McKay worth trading for a better forward option, or draft picks?
The questions that need to be asked include, why is the club still struggling when they can be playing finals football? Is the club still suffering from what Michael Malthouse put them through years ago? Why does that affect them now? Why is it that they have only two main forwards who they can rely upon? Do the professional standards at this club need re-developing?
One thing is clear. The time is becoming limited for Voss and Luke Sayers. The club is not in an acceptable position and needs a serious clean out because with the talent they have, they are clearly not getting there and need better management. The next two weeks will decide this fate unless Carlton can somehow pull their finger out and start to win games of football against the odds against sides who will likely feature in September. They need to change up the defensive game style and fast! Everyone has worked them out and are cutting them off at their knees.
Right now, it appears they are nowhere near finals competitiveness and the club is a disaster zone and a lot of board members are considering leaving. The next two weeks are vital if Voss wants to keep his job and there is no question that something is wrong if Sayers comes out and says he is unhappy with what is happening on field, but will not be doing anything about it until the end of next year (saying Voss is safe in his job until his contract until the end of 2024). His time as president is surely limited as well. There is no way that either of them can survive much longer with the direction that Carlton is heading in and things need to change very fast.
Fans are fed up and rightly so are not to blame for not continuing to show up to watch this standard of a club, the way it is going. Serious change is needed and fast, the professional standard needs to change 1000% and the club needs to revitalise this very quickly and address it. Carlton has the talent for on field success, but is clear the management needs to be better.