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Doubts meant Blues kept Ratten on P-plates

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Ratten makes a dignified exit

Outgoing Carlton coach Brett Ratten remained composed and dignified during the announcement he has been sacked by the club.

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Carlton supported Brett Ratten but did not believe in him.

CARLTON never treated Brett Ratten as a long-term coach. Ratten was on probation for his entire five years and six games as senior coach. While the Blues would let him drive the car - not quite the Rolls Royce of yesteryear but a luxury vehicle nonetheless - he would never graduate beyond P-plates in the club's mind.

Brett Ratten at the media conference announcing his sacking.

Brett Ratten at the media conference announcing his sacking. Photo: Digitally altered image

The Blues supported him with resources, gradually bulking up what had been a threadbare football department under Denis Pagan. They gave him the assistants he wanted, such as the experienced Alan Richardson and Mark Riley. They sided with Ratten in his conflict with football operations manager Steven Icke, installing Andrew McKay; they revamped the recruiting department along the lines he sought, elevating Shane Rogers to the head job. They gave him all that he wanted, except the one thing he wanted most. Their faith.

They supported, but never believed in Ratten. This is the critical point. It is easy to say that Ratten would have remained had Mick Malthouse not been available. Malthouse is the cart, not the horse; Malthouse might have been available to Richmond, too, but the Tigers actually hold the view that Damien Hardwick can deliver a premiership, so they re-signed Hardwick for a longer term - putting the Malthouse question to bed before it could arise.

Ratten's term as senior coach consisted of three two-year contracts. The club board did not consider him worthy of a three-year term at any stage, which meant he coached in a permanent state of (job) insecurity. For Carlton, ''honouring'' a contract means paying someone out in full. Malthouse, should he take the job, will begin with the standard three years Ratten never received.

Carlton harboured doubts all along about whether Ratten could deliver a flag. Whenever he met expectations, by making the finals in 2009 and 2010, by winning a final last year, the bar was raised further. Much has been made of Ratten's intemperate prediction that the Blues would make the top four this season. In reality, it was the board's great expectations - not his own - that placed the blowtorch under his backside. The Carlton hierarchy privately cited Carlton's failure to beat the premiership contenders this year and last as factors in the sacking. It was mindful that Carlton has not beaten a top-four side this season - it beat only the fifth-placed Pies (twice) - and has a 0-10 record against the top four since 2011.

Of course, that Malthouse - and potentially Paul Roos - hovered over the club like Big Brother certainly didn't help Ratten, who otherwise probably would have coached out his contract. President Stephen Kernahan said yesterday that it was ''line ball'' whether his former teammate would have coached in 2013 if not for the Malthouse factor.

But even if he'd stayed, the club wasn't about to bestow Ratten with a full driver's licence. The coach would have endured another year walking the tightrope, a sixth year on probation.

Why did the club lack faith in its man? In part, this was due to Ratten's nature, yet it is also about Carlton's DNA and particular needs at this crossroads moment. Carlton wants a flag yesterday. To the question of whether the Blues lacked patience, Kernahan dryly observed that they had been impatient for 148 years. Ratten, in the hierarchy's mind, did not lack for football nous or coaching acumen. It was man-management the club felt tested him. Internally, he was seen to have a weakness for micro-managing, having had some issues with conditioning chief Justin Cordy. It is not surprising then that the Blues would look to Malthouse (or Roos), whose abiding strength has been his man-management.

That said, Ratten's public demeanour and composure were outstanding throughout a diabolical season. His handling of his own execution was remarkable for the sheer absence of bitterness, discomfort or negativity. When he addressed the players after his axing, he implored them to make the most of their opportunities and not to feel sorry for him, pointing to the tragic death of a young staffer at Carlton, and of the cancer that their teammate Sam Rowe had endured. ''Make the most of it,'' he said.

Ratten (pictured at training yesterday) accepted what Kernahan admitted was a harsh call. He even gave his club credit for its ruthlessness. Ratten has enormous goodwill from the media, earned by his grace and good manners.

Finally, Carlton's famous impatience was intensified by the club's belief that it was capable of winning a premiership within the next few years.

Kernahan spoke about the need to strike while Judd was still hot. Malthouse upped the ante by suggesting that he might no longer be a feasible coach in 2014.

Doubts about Ratten dovetailed with the opportunity to land an experienced driver. Whether you're a hired gun or a favourite son matters not. Carlton did what Carlton does.

36 comments so far

  • Waiting until Wednesday makes it not a knee-jerk reaction anymore?

    And what if Malthouse (and Roos) say no? Ratten would then probably be the best credentialed available candidate out there.

    How ironic.

    Date and time
    August 30, 2012, 4:29PM
    • Ratten was so gracious this morning given the situation.

      I think his coaching tenure was built on sand though because the club wasn't seen to do its due diligence on getting another coach post Pagan. He would have been much better placed if the club hadn't cut a corner, interviewed numerous candidates and then gone with Ratten. The perception amongst some - rightly or wrongly - is that it was jobs for the boys.

      But wow he showed what a true Blue he was this morning. I think his flaw was he wasn't tough enough on underperforming players.

      If he coaches again he may have a harder edge that gets more consistency of performance.

      All the very best to him for the future.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2012, 4:47PM
    • Yes, Ratten certainly displayed his loyalty, dignity and integrity, unlike most clubs do with their coaching contracts. When Thompson had exactly the same problem, Geelong backed the coach and their team, it delivered 3 flags; similarly the Hawks backed Clarkson after 08 and now Richmond has after some early season dreaming. Perhaps the Blues "impatience" is really delusional arrogance about where the team is, especially given the injuries this year.
      Best wishes Ratts, for your coaching future. Be good to see the effect on the "impatience" if Micks hold true to his October deadline, and in turn if the 2013 Blues could cope with a team coached by Malthouse, Brown,Richardson, Williams and possibly Butters with Cloke as the main lead up forward. That would really take some faith in the Blues Board!

      Date and time
      August 30, 2012, 5:57PM
  • Hope Ratts gets picked up by Port and he leads them to a flag before we get our 17th. Malthouse is out of touch and Cloke is not worth the asking price. Do we really want to win a flag on the back of two Collingwood discards. Paul Roos will cost us half and be worth double.
    Thank you Brett Ratten. You're a gentleman in a dog's world.

    Date and time
    August 30, 2012, 4:43PM
    • I agree. Cloke is so bloody overrated. He is much like Anthony Rocca was -always "about to" produce a string of consistent games and never producing much in a finals campaign. On the big stage, he went missing. Cloke is a legend only in his own mind. As for Malthouse, yeah he is an OK coach..Took 11 years to win the flag at Australia's best resourced footy club and still got done over last year by a 1 st year rookie.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2012, 6:03PM
  • Thanks for your opinion Jake.
    How about you guys in the Media, did you guys inclusve of Carro give Ratts a go??????
    You know the answer........NO.
    So before you talk about Carlton, its management, its history...a bit of self reflection might help.
    By the way all those whinging CFC supporters who hung it on Ratten throughout his do you all feel.


    Date and time
    August 30, 2012, 4:45PM
    • I became so tired of so called supporters hanging it on Ratts and asking for his head over the years. What the hell did they expect? The bloke gave us a J-curve and finals.

      I am disgusted with the club's treatment of someone who has come out of this sorry mess with his head held higher than anyone else in the club who had a hand in this.

      I hope Malthouse fails big time, even if it means us suffering another couple of years in the doldrums.

      I urge supporters to bombard the club's e-mail expressing their disgust over Ratts' treatment.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2012, 5:17PM
  • What a complete sham of a club.
    They will never win another premiership in the next 50 years.
    Shocking culture.

    Bruce Doull
    Formerly of Carlton
    Date and time
    August 30, 2012, 4:48PM
    • Why would any coach go to Carlton? To be treated like this? Ratten is a good coach and should have been retained like Richmond retained their coach. There are 18 teams now if every club was like Carlton 17 coaches would be sacked every year. They are too impatient and it will not work. You need to build towards a premiership with unity and loyalty. Ask John Worsfold or Paul Roos or bomber Thompson.

      BeyondThe Pale
      Date and time
      August 30, 2012, 4:49PM
      • I'ts amazing, Carltons lack of on field success in recent times coincides with them having to play by the same rules as everyone else and not by their own.
        Oh how sweet it is

        Date and time
        August 30, 2012, 4:53PM

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