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Malthouse looms large over Carlton

Tough times: Carlton coach Brett Ratten arrives back in Melbourne after the loss to Gold Coast Suns.

Tough times: Carlton coach Brett Ratten arrives back in Melbourne after the loss to Gold Coast Suns. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

THE spectre of Mick Malthouse that has haunted Brett Ratten for more than two years has finally materialised. And there is no doubt the presence of the last but one premiership coach declaring his ongoing passion for the job has made Ratten's survival all the more unlikely.

Ratten knows it, Malthouse knows it and so do the two Carlton chiefs who in the end will drive the decision - president Stephen Kernahan and his chief executive, Greg Swann. Only Swann has been publicly silent since the Gold Coast train wreck, but the very fact he ended all social contact with Malthouse after one of their regular dinners three months ago indicates this has been looming.

Kernahan, who made it clear in a club sanctioned interview that Ratten's future is safe for just one more game, was clearly torn yesterday. He has been a Carlton director for the past three coach sackings - all were contracted at the time - and was determined not to behave as the old Carlton would have. Denis Pagan lost a game in Queensland only to have his fate sealed on the Richard Pratt-chartered flight home, and certainly John Elliott would have sacked Ratten by now.

Instead, Kernahan yesterday sought counsel from several trusted confidants - probably Mike Fitzpatrick and Stephen Gough among them - who would have urged him to look at the big picture and not just the coach. Certainly he was urged to hold the line for one more week and has insisted to everyone who will listen that his board is united and Swann is doing everything the board requires of him, and more.

But he made it clear by his public commentary that Ratten's future is in grave doubt. The coach is contracted for a year and yet his future could not be guaranteed beyond Sunday. Kernahan described Saturday night's loss to Gold Coast as one of Carlton's worst in his memory. Privately he is understood to regard it as the worst.

And Ratten, too, was pointed in a letter to club members, pointing the finger at some of his players. "Without doubt we have carried some blokes into games this season," he wrote. ''One minute they play well; the next it's, 'Oh well'."

Malthouse widened his own return to coaching door ever so slightly further on 3AW, saying that, for him, it is a return to coaching in 2013 or never. He would not consider moving to Port Adelaide, so clearly he was talking about Carlton. And there is no doubt the Blues, despite their debt and the estimated $500,000 pay-out to Ratten, could gather the funds to secure him. The timing for Ratten is unfortunate where Malthouse is concerned, because he appears the lone figure in the frame as Paul Roos continues to rule out coaching next year.

Malthouse's manager, Peter Sidwell, told The Age last night: "Michael's first and greatest priority is to confirm he has the support of his wider family and friends. That will precede any decision as to whether he wishes to go back into coaching. The current media speculation in regard to any and all football clubs' future decisions is unedifying. Michael will not entertain any approach until October.''

For those Carlton powerbrokers who believed raising the money to lure Malthouse and pay out Ratten to relaunch for 2013 was a no-brainer, then the shock Gold Coast defeat has done them a favour.

Interestingly, the two most vocal defenders of the beleaguered coach were David Parkin and Robert Walls, with the latter a long-time Malthouse critic. Both are Carlton premiership coaches, both have been sacked by the club - Parkin twice.

A move to sign Malthouse will send dominoes falling across the AFL, given his strong allegiance to key Collingwood staffers such as high-performance chief David Buttifant, along with the uncertainty over whether Blues assistants Gavin Brown and Alan Richardson would stay with the Blues should Malthouse replace Ratten.

Port Adelaide yesterday confirmed it would approach Ratten - whose stated wish is to be a career coach - as a senior candidate, and the uncertainty over the Carlton football department prompted Richmond to seek a decision by midweek from prospective high-performance coach Darren Burgess, who is leaving Liverpool but who is also considering an offer from Port.

Surely, then, a decision from Malthouse will come long before October. His worry for family and friends, and specifically one son whom he said had suffered particularly from the tribulations of existing so closely to an AFL coach, was genuine, but surely he was just musing on the wrongs of the past. Because he then added that those relatives would support him unconditionally.

It seems like a fait accompli. If Malthouse chooses to jump back in, then Ratten is finished. At least at the club he called home for so long.

40 comments

  • It is beyond question that Brett Ratten cannot coach. It can be seen clearly on match day with a complete absence of creativity. There is no apparent game plan and the success the players have had is testament to their individual abilities.

    The tragedy would be if it was just Ratten who took the fall. Stephen Kernahan has equally demonstrated his lack of suitability for the position of president. He has presided over poor recruiting, poor personnel selection, and poor decision making in the football department. A champion of the club he may have been but they are not credentials for the job of president. The club has continually failed under his leadership, and he, together with most of the rest of the underperforming board, should follow Ratten out the door.

    Commenter
    DJS
    Date and time
    August 28, 2012, 2:34AM
    • How can you say the Club has failed under Kernaghan? If it wasn't for him and his energy to get the best people Pratt, Swan and others to the club for their experience and finacial clout it is very likely Carlton would not exist today.

      I agree regarding the recruiting but is that a Presidents responsibilty. The executive shouldn't get involved with the Football Department until a loss to the GCS. It does pain me to see Talia running around for Adelaide while Lucas is stagnating in the 2's, Carlton has never grasped the Draft system. If you look at all recruits going back to 1987 there are very few you could call anything but average.

      Commenter
      Toughnup
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 11:46AM
    • Good to see things don't change. Carlton, like Collingwood, will continue to try and buy a premiership through coach and players.

      Commenter
      Aussie Jim
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 12:44PM
    • Kernahan has been a director right through all our dark days and underhand payments which put us in a huge mess for a decade and forever lost us our home ground advantage (Princes Park could have been the type of fortress and money maker that Geelong now enjoys). Is he made of teflon or something? time to get a 21st century board with both football AND business acumen! Ratten will pay the price for injuries and perhaps some of his match tactics but the clean out shouldn't end there! some of these same board members used to extend Pagan's contract after we won the pre-season cup (and then finished bottom of the ladder).....

      Commenter
      ACB
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 1:00PM
    • I agree with you DJS. I am not keen on Ratten's coaching abilities, I dont know why we cant have a decent forward line with key position players, why are we lacking in "talls" and the bump and grind "tougher " types? its been obvious for a number of years now that Carlton can be intimidated by tougher play, it had no "steel" - although we have improved marginally lately. Injury t the tream this year should not be an excuse. a team is only as goiod as its bottom 6 players, other players in the squad must do their job in absence of the injured. who is in charge of picking the playing list? recruiting? after all that...its obvious I am not ken on RAtten as CArlton coach. However something is fishy here. I smell a conspiracy. how can a side playing for so much be defeated by the Suns? you know what I am getting to? some-one internally planned this, Ratten was set up. but who can ochestrate the playing group to play so dismally on Saturday to execute the plan? I dont know the workings of an AFL club some-one who does may want give more light into this conspiracy theory or its too far fetched?

      Commenter
      Footy keeps me sane..
      Location
      Indonesia
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 1:01PM
  • At least if he goes back to coaching we won't have to endure him talking about himself endlessly on 3AWs coverage, it is unbelievable how long he can hog the airways about himself, his views, his clever coaching moves, how good he is at developing young players, his family.....spare us the pain and pls go back Mick

    Commenter
    Zelda
    Date and time
    August 28, 2012, 2:38AM
    • As long as he stays away from Perth. He style of commenting sickens me, it could only be worse if you had to sit through his rubbish as a student or a player.

      Commenter
      Greggy
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 9:22AM
  • As a lifelong supporter ... Carlton, honor your contract with a club champion, Brett Ratten, one of my favorite players and a favorite son who has done so much for the club for so long.

    The injuries sustained this year which derailed our season were from courageous but damaging acts (apart from that dumb chicken wing tackle). You can't blame this on Ratten.

    Also, none of these injuries have had anything to do with bad management re: Essendon's soft tissue injuries etc .. it had everything to do with going in tough for the ball, which is something Ratten did as a great and courageous player. It's obvious he has also instilled this into his team, hence the aforementioned injuries which have hurt.

    I'm sick of broken contracts, especially when Ratten has had better stats than the touted replacement 4 years in, as I read in another article in this paper today.

    Don't forget we kicked 20 bloody behinds on Saturday! Do we also blame/sack Ratten for the chewy on the players boots?

    Commenter
    powerfrau
    Date and time
    August 28, 2012, 3:28AM
    • This argument about injuries really has to stop. Check the injury lists from teams above Carlton. The 22 on the park last weekend should have won by a lot. Even with the injury list, the collective talent of Carlton on paper far outweighs the Gold Coast. Some people were not built to coach. Brett Ratten is one of them.

      Commenter
      DJS
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 8:31AM
    • Further to that, the Suns had an injury list of about 17, much longer than that of Carlton.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      August 28, 2012, 2:43PM

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