Man with the plan: Mick Malthouse. Photo: Pat Scala
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse has taken the unusual step of asking his players whether they want to persist with his game plan, as the Blues attempt to resurrect their season in the wake of their shocking loss to Essendon.
Malthouse and his assistant coaches met with captain Marc Murphy and his leadership group this week, with the three-time premiership coach going as far as seeking direct input on a game plan that he had already tinkered with last season when the Blues also began poorly.
Blues legend Mark Maclure had suggested the players did not enjoy Malthouse's defensive-based style, declaring on Carlton TV on Wednesday: "It looks like to me they are voting with their feet, they don't like the game style they are playing."
In response, Blues football department chief Andrew McKay revealed Malthouse had sought the players' opinion.
"We have obviously had myriad meetings this week with various groups around the place," McKay said.
"The coaches had a meeting with the leaders a couple of days ago and said: 'Look, is everyone on board with this game style? Go away, get feedback from the group'.
"They [players] were 100 per cent; this is the right way for us to go. They want to play the game style which Mick wants to play."
The Blues appeared to adopt a more attacking mantra in a second-half comeback against Richmond in round two but lacked purpose, direction and butchered the ball in a miserable loss to Essendon.
McKay said Malthouse had spoken individually with each of the players who took part in Sunday night's loss.
"He has had every player who played on the weekend file through his office this week. The underlying message is, there is no use dwelling on the result, it's how you actually respond to that result. That's what we have got ahead of us," he said.
McKay said the Blues had intensified training this week and noted club directors were pleased that players had been taking extra shots at goal.
"I think a couple of things need to come into consideration. We need to be better at kicking goals. It sounds so basic and so fundamental but we haven't been able to do it," McKay said.
"Whether that's a mindset thing with a bit of pressure - the game on Sunday was a mental aberration. You can't go from the second half of Richmond to the Essendon game and have such a difference.
"People don't lose their skill, don't lose their size, don't lose their fitness."
McKay said midfielder Patrick Cripps, the club's top pick in last year's draft, had impressed in the VFL last weekend and suggested he would be in line for selection against Melbourne on Saturday.
"We still need to remember he is an 18-year-old boy, but certainly he has a good size about him. He probably hasn't got the engine that is required for consistent AFL footy, but he is playing such good footy that it's hard for us to go past him for too much longer," he said.