OPINION

Carlton fans, be patient: give coach David Teague time to rebuild

Carlton needs to reserve its judgement on coach David Teague, at least for the time being. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Carlton needs to reserve its judgement on coach David Teague, at least for the time being. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

It is easy to understand why Carlton fans are impatient as they ponder no finals appearances since 2013, but David Teague should be given longer than this season to prove his worth as a coach.

Club legend Robert Walls turned up the heat on Teague last week, saying the Blues might need to move the coach on if he can't lift them into the finals this year.

As a three-time premiership player and coach of the victorious 1987 combination, Walls' passion for the Blues remains strong.

His often-controversial opinions carry considerable weight among the Carlton faithful.

But it is too premature to judge Teague's tenure - his predecessor Brendon Bolton was given three-and-a-half seasons to develop and build the list before he was replaced.

Entering the sixth season of a painstaking rebuild, the Blues have made no secret that a finals berth is their aim this season.

With many of the younger players having been in the system for a while now, this should be well within their grasp.

But in such a tight competition there is an element of luck required and Carlton needs its best players on the field to be successful.

The Blues already have a long injury list and they will start the season without several key players, notably gifted key forward Charlie Curnow.

Facing arch-rivals Richmond and Collingwood in the opening two rounds, Carlton must win at least one of those games to kickstart its season.

Under Teague, the Blues have won 13 of 28 games. But last season, they did not play with the flair shown in the first 11 matches under the interim coach in 2019 when he espoused an attractive game style in contrast to Bolton's defensive mindset.

It's hard to make an accurate assessment on how much life in a hub affected performance during a tumultuous 2020 season. While it suited some players, coaches and officials, others floundered.

Carlton lost four of its final five games last year, the only victory coming with a last-gasp, come-from-behind effort against Sydney.

Remarkably the Blues' finals hopes were alive before they were snuffed out by wooden-spooner Adelaide in the penultimate home and away round.

Carlton has recruited well in the off-season to service specific needs - former Bomber Adam Saad to provide run and carry off half-back and former Giant Zac Williams as a speedy, skilful sidekick to co-captain Patrick Cripps and his fellow midfielders.

The signs are positive the Blues are keen to recapture their attacking methods this season with the inclusion of Saad and Williams, but their overall skill level, particularly kicking, has been deficient for several years.

Since Carlton's last grand final appearance in 1999, there have been numerous false hopes of a return to the club's glorious past.

However, removing another coach is not the answer and Teague, contracted until the end of next season, should be given every opportunity and as many resources as he requires to achieve success.

Essendon-Hawthorn should be on centre stage. Photo: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Essendon-Hawthorn should be on centre stage. Photo: Mark Brake/Getty Images

BOMBERS-HAWKS SHOULD BE AT MCG

The AFL's decision to avoid making changes to its round one fixture is a cop out.

Under extraordinary circumstances last year, the AFL's flexibility in fixturing was pivotal in enabling the year to proceed.

But suddenly this season, as reduced crowds are allowed back into Victorian venues, the league claims that a "knock-on" effect prevents any transference of games.

When the AFL released the fixture late last year, it was obvious that the MCG would be a much more suitable venue for Essendon-Hawthorn, two Victorian clubs with big supporter bases, in the opening round of the season.

But despite the Bombers' pleas to move the match, the league refuses to budge.

It seems ridiculous that game will be played at a reduced-capacity Marvel Stadium while earlier in the day Melbourne will play Fremantle, a match with substantially less drawing power, at the MCG.

If the AFL wanted to move the games, it wouldn't be too hard.

The MCG is vacant on Sunday, March 21, so the Essendon-Hawthorn game could be played as the early game that day.

The North Melbourne-Port Adelaide encounter, scheduled for Marvel Stadium in the early Sunday game, could be moved to the Saturday night timeslot now occupied by Essendon-Hawthorn.

Then there is a possibility of a Saturday double-header at the MCG.

The AFL was prepared to play double-headers at Metricon Stadium last year, so why not in round one this season?

It might require a slight adjustment in starting times, but the MCC believes it could complete a cleaning process and have everything else in place to host Melbourne-Fremantle and then Essendon-Hawthorn as the later game on Saturday, March 20.

It is a Bombers home game and members of the prestigious Medallion Club at Marvel Stadium would have to be accommodated in the AFL Members section at the MCG, as they are on grand final day.

One can only presume that the AFL is looking after its interests by retaining the Essendon-Hawthorn encounter at the stadium that it owns.

With tickets limited, many fans will have to watch it on TV - that's just not good enough.

  • This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas
This story Carlton should give Teague time first appeared on The Canberra Times.