Analysis finds Blues similar to 2006 Cats
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
MICK Malthouse may have inherited a Carlton team similar to the struggling but talent-laden Geelong side of 2006 - one that stormed to the premiership a year later.
In an analysis by Champion Data, which gives the Blues renewed hope of securing their first flag since 1995, it is felt Malthouse (below) has taken charge of a list capable of adopting the blueprint he used at his former club Collingwood.
This was based on winning the contested football, tackling pressure and the forward press. This, of course, culminated in the 2010 flag.
The analysis has found Carlton's game plan last season was ''far from direct'' and ''had no distinct area of the ground in which it moved the ball''.
The data showed the Blues ranked mid-table in boundary, wing and corridor-midfield ball movement and were ''tentative forward of centre, kicking backwards or laterally more often than any other team''.
That will change this season when the Blues embrace Malthouse's boundary-focused plan, which continued to be fine-tuned at training at Visy Park on Wednesday.
''He knows how the game should be played and how he wants it played,'' defender Jeremy Laidler said of his new coach.
''He is laying the law down. If you don't stick to those laws, you won't play. We will look to move the ball quickly.''
In its 2013 prospectus, Champion Data has questioned whether there are similarities between this Carlton team and Mark Thompson's under-achieving 2006 Geelong unit - a disastrous year that prompted a major review and almost led to the departure of the coach.
The Blues axed Brett Ratten late last season despite the former club champion having a year left on his contract.
''So, was the 10th placing a true reflection of where the Blues are at or was it just a hiccup, similar to that of Geelong in 2006?'' Champion Data asks.
''In 2004 and 2005 the Cats played finals and the expectations rose. But they fell away in 2006 and missed the finals, which led to an extensive post-season review in which Mark Thompson survived, but significant changes were made.
''After that review, it certainly clicked with the Cats playing in four of the next five grand final and winning three flags.
''So is this a similar case at Carlton? The common thought is that they have the list and 2012 was just a minor setback on the way to the Holy Grail.''
Champion Data says Marc Murphy is now the Blues' best player and is one of only four bracketed as elite, joining Chris Judd, Heath Scotland and Jarrad Waite.
Captaincy candidates Murphy, Kade Simpson and Andrew Carrazzo will have a chance to push their cases for election during the NAB Cup.
Each will be given a week to demonstrate to Malthouse why they should succeed Judd, who has stepped down and is still seeking a resolution for his Visy third-party deal with the AFL. His manager Paul Connors met with the league on Tuesday.
The Blues will also look to improve defensively this season. An injury-riddled defence meant the Blues allowed their opponents to score from 51.2 per cent of their entries inside 50 - the fifth worst of any side.
The Blues will hope Laidler and the likes of Michael Jamison and Lachie Henderson can remain injury free.
Laidler, a master interceptor who turns defence into attack, had three dislocations of his left knee last season. He required two operations and his campaign ended in late June.
''In 2011, we had a few games in a row together and we all sort of started to build a mould,'' he said.
''Looking back, it is pretty vital to have that back six or seven that can rotate through there. To get the experience together, it's pretty vital.''
Waite dislocated his right ring finger at training on Wednesday but it is not expected to hamper his build-up to the new season.