WITH just five wins on the board after 15 rounds, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says his side reached a tipping point on Saturday and had lost hope.
The out-of-contract coach now faces a difficult task motivating his side in the remaining seven rounds after their 37-point loss to Essendon virtually destroyed any remaining chance they would make finals.
Buckley knows the mounting losses have made his own coaching future grim but he has adopted a realistic outlook to what might happen post-season when the club will decide whether he should continue as coach.
"It was a day today where I reckon they lost a little bit of hope about where they were and where they are going," Buckley said.
"It's my job and our job to reframe that for the back half of this season."
Buckley said the constant speculation about his future inevitably affected the club but he didn't offer it as an excuse for the performance.
He did not avoid questions about his coaching future.
"I'm pragmatic but I'm not defeatist so I will have that short-term focus to prepare the players as best I can to have them enjoy their footy a little bit more," Buckley said.
Buckley said the coaching group would determine a plan for the remainder of the season in the next 48 hours so the players could regain a sense of purpose.
"It might be bringing in a kid before his time just to give him a look," Buckley said.
The obvious choice in that regard would be Josh Daicos, who performed well in the VFL against Footscray last week.
Buckley said that he understood Collingwood supporters would be disappointed but he wanted to let them know the players were working as hard as possible to be the best they could be.
"No one is feeling particularly great about themselves, players or coaches alike," Buckley said.
"We don't want to present like we did today and we haven't for the large part of the year."
The Match Review Panel will examine an incident in the third quarter when Levi Greenwood appeared to strike young Bomber Zach Merrett with his elbow.
Buckley said Greenwood was concerned as to how the incident appeared but the Magpie had not meant to hit Merrett's face with his elbow.
"I'm not an MRP specialist but it didn't look like there was any intent to catch him on the chin," Buckley said.
"Levi was relatively distraught with the fact that he caught him on the chin, or that it slipped up and hit Merrett on the chin.
"He's a hard, tough player, Levi, but he's very fair, but that'll be up to the powers that be to adjudicate."
He said Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe remained in doubt for next week's game but he hoped Daniel Wells would return via the VFL.