At odds: Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and former coach Mick Malthouse. Photo: Photo: Paul Rovere
THE tension that simmered beneath the surface of the Mick Malthouse succession plan at Collingwood took just three weeks of the new coach's reign to erupt into open hostility.
Using their various media vehicles, Malthouse and his family and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire argued publicly yesterday after Malthouse blamed players and umpires for the club's grand final loss and queried the change to the game plan that has seen Collingwood lose two of its first three games, including the heavy loss to Carlton on Friday night.
McGuire on his morning radio show aggressively challenged the broad critique of the club by Malthouse in his new role as media commentator, claiming he would not have a friend left at Collingwood after his weekend comments about the club he coached to a flag just 18months ago.
"I love Mick and I've supported him 100 per cent, but I tell you what, he wouldn't have a friend at Collingwood today. He hasn't missed anyone," McGuire said.
"He's blamed the grand final loss last year on Dane Swan, Chris Tarrant and the umpires ... you can't claim the glory for the coaching plan to get to the grand final and then bag the players who followed it out."
Malthouse had said that a one-kick last quarter by Swan, a defensive error by Tarrant and a poor umpiring decision had been responsible for the grand final loss and not a breakdown of his game plan.
McGuire added that Malthouse had "given it to [Buckley] for a couple of years now; give the bloke a bit of a chance, he's in his first year."
McGuire implored Malthouse to move on, saying he had disliked his coaching predecessor at Collingwood, Tony Shaw, criticising the team yet he was doing the same thing. "Give Bucks a bit of a go, mate, because when Bucks was the captain he carried that team for you, he played his guts out for you," McGuire said.
Malthouse had also said retired All-Australian Leon Davis would probably have remained at the club had he been coach because of the strength of his relationship with the player. The comment was taken by the club as a slight on football manager Geoff Walsh for not re-signing Davis and of Buckley for not having as tight a bond with the players as Malthouse.
Malthouse said last night he did not want to get into a further slanging match with McGuire but said he retained strong feelings for many people within the club.
"I will never compromise my stance on the admiration I've got and the feel I have for that playing group, Geoff Walsh, David Buttifant and the football department for how they bled for the club and myself to win the (2010) premiership and also to go as far as they did last year," Malthouse said.
One of jis daughters, Danielle Kearney, who also works as her father's personal assistant, tweeted later yesterday morning: "I don't know how Eddie McGuire sleeps at night #lies."
She added later: "For the record. Collingwood F C is a fantastic club that is made up of some fabulous people. Was just sick of hearing lies 2day."
Former player Brodie Holland used social media to criticise his former coach. Holland wrote: "I LOVE MICKY MILKSHAKES but poor form by him singling out individuals that apparently influenced the GF loss last yr. #smokescreenspecialist."
Malthouse at the weekend had not specifically criticised the game plan under Buckley but corrected the impression that the change under Buckley was minimal. He said there was a "massive difference" in game structure, the side was now using the corridor more and was thus "leaking goals".
McGuire said the game plan had already changed under Malthouse in last year's grand final because of the realisation by Malthouse and others that Geelong and the rest of the competition had worked out the game plan.
Tony Shaw, now a colleague of Malthouse's at 3AW, yesterday challenged all sides to show more dignity and remove personalities from the debate. "Mick has every right to comment on game style but don't bring personalities into it and that goes for all sides in this," Shaw said.
"We are three games into a coaching career with Nathan Buckley, he has tried to change things, and players take time to get used to it but with six grand final players out and three or four others that didn't have a pre-season and were underdone, things like that will happen ... and I think it is totally over the top reactive. It took (Malthouse) 12 years to win a premiership, give Nathan time to have his go."