AFL: Time to own up Mick

“The mark of a man is getting off the canvas. Not how many times you fall.”

The words of Carlton coach Mick Malthouse fell on deaf ears as the Blues lost their chance to save their season yesterday, ruined at the hands of the Melbourne football club.

The three time premiership coach, while being one of the best in the business, has got his head firmly stuck in the sand saying yesterday that his pedigree was enough to make him believe that Carlton still has a chance at finals.

“I don’t like doing pump ups, but my last seven years in AFL football have been in finals, so the game hasn’t changed dramatically in the space of six months.”

“What I base that on is a sound defence, a good football side (and) adhering to the rules.”

While that may have been the case in the past, Malthouse has never led a team that started the season 0-4 to the finals.

Despite saying that the personal didn’t suit his system, Malthouse has almost defiantly stuck to his laurels and deployed his game style and Carlton has been shown up time and time again. Little changes were made to the roster over the summer, despite being clearly evident last year, with the only notable inclusion Dale Thomas, a coach favorite from Malthouse’s Collingwood days.

The regular problems that have plagued Carlton in past seasons: inaccurate goal kicking, the lack of tall athletic players at both ends of the field and poor physical pressure have only been compounded by the fact that the Blues aren’t even doing the things that made them a finals side in previous years.

The current promote talent on performance is wrecking the confidence of the young underbelly at Carlton and the players should benefit from continuity rather than be constantly in fear of losing their spot in the team.

“At the moment we are a football side without confidence, we are getting badly beaten around certain areas of the game, we haven’t got enough contributors and we are not scoring.

“(But) I am not going to start second-guessing myself because all of a sudden we are zip and four.”

Like with Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin and Collingwood tagger Brent Macaffer on Friday night, Carlton players didn’t rally to Captain Marc Murphy’s side while he struggled with the smothering effects from Melbourne’s Nathan Jones.

While it is fair to say that Murphy’s leadership isn’t up to the same class as predecessor Chris Judd, Carlton as a team have struggled mightily to stand up when effort was required. Call this a cultural problem but there isn’t the willingness from the current group of players to die for the famous navy blue jumper.

While you can’t fault his loyalty to his players, Malthouse is doing a disservice to the team by reiterating that the side is premiership worthy. He is breeding complacency, especially in the young, upcoming players and by ignoring the problems himself, he is setting a poor example to those around him.

You can blame it all you want on poor recruiting, development and injuries but there comes a time when enough is enough. It’s time for Malthouse to stand up and show why he is regarded as one of the best coaches in the AFL.

Ben Sathananthan is a third year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter at @bensathsports

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