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'Communication issues': McCartney exits the kennel

Dogs crisis, trade twists and more Special coverage of the Western Bulldogs developments
Our players don't run this club, we do
Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney has resigned after a tumultuous 24 hours at the club.

President Peter Gordon announced the coach's departure at a media conference on Friday morning, saying feedback from within the club indicated that McCartney's position for the 2015 season was untenable.
 
McCartney, 53, had coached the club for three years, with the Bulldogs winning 20 of 66 games with him at the helm.
 
He had two years to run on his contract.
 
McCartney released a statement through the club late on Friday afternoon, thanking his fellow coaches at the Western Bulldogs and the club's board, including president Peter Gordon and his predecessor David Smorgon. 

He also had a reassuring message for the club's fans, many of whom have expressed disillusionment with the events of the past few days. 

"Thank you for your patience and emotion. We had some good times, some tough moments and patches where progress seemed slow," he said. 
 
"What I would like to reinforce to you is that your club is in good hands. Management, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning are resourced, committed and very capable.

"Thanks to some inspired selections over the last four to five years by our recruiting team – the club is well placed with a brilliant crop of young players. Contrary to public perception, there are also experienced players who love their club and provide outstanding leadership and direction for their teammates."

The press conference was called the day after the club captain Ryan Griffen requested a trade to Greater Western Sydney, the team the Bulldogs lost to in the final game of the season.

Gordon indicated that after Griffen's request, McCartney had indicated that he was unsure if he had enough support within the club to continue as senior coach.

Peter Gordon and Simon Garlick face the media to explain McCartney's resignation. Picture: Getty Images



The Bulldogs sought further feedback from the playing group (amongst others) on Thursday afternoon, before coming to the conclusion that the task before McCartney was too great and the coach duly fell on his sword.

Gordon said McCartney agreed that staying on would be an "impediment to our continued improvement" and that he was leaving his post effective immediately.

However, despite the apparent player power at play, Gordon said "our players don't run this club, we do." 

"I'm very proud of our players. The fact that they had these concerns and some for some time but their first, default and predominant position has been not to look to blame a coach or the senior coach or others but to look to themselves and ways they can work through them," he said.

"[The fact] they would reflect on what they could do better to improve the club is a fair reflection of the quality of our players as a whole - the younger ones and the older ones.

"We've got a great group of players who as these issues emerged fought hard to deal with them in a difficult environment, wanting to demonstrate both loyalty and also concern that we progress in the best way we can."

Gordon said players such as Dale Morris, Jordan Roughead and Jake Stringer were all involved in talks at the club on Thursday in the wake of Griffen's news.

He said it was "inspiring" to hear from the players, who phoned some of their teammates and got them involved in continuing with the feedback that "formed part of the evidence" that contributed to the decision.

He also denied the club was in crisis despite its captain threatening to walk out and the coach resigning in the past 24 hours.
 
"I've been around footy a long time – this is not a crisis. This is a tough week in the office," he said.
 
"I'm not spinning a line when I say we will emerge stronger from this.
 
"This has thrown up for us issues that are difficult but we'll transact them.
 
"You don't get power without responsibility and I think we've seen in all professional sports that player empowerment is actually a positive thing.
 
"It's an important thing and it needs to be exercised in the right way.
 
"We want to grow and thrive in an environment in which the players increasingly take responsibility rather than power to get the outcomes we want."

He also said the Dogs were "distressed and disturbed" about the way things had played out with Griffen, but held out hope he would see out the final year of his contract. 

"Contracts are contracts and we hope he will see his way clear to honour the obligations he undertook when he executed that contract," he said. 

Gordon last spoke to Griffen on Wednesday night when he was informed of the decision. 

He believed the skipper had since "gone pig shooting" and would look to continue conversations with the "required player" soon. 

However, he expected Griffen would not stay captain if he remained at the club, given his struggles with the off-field side of leadership. 

Gordon added he believed free agency was now being exposed as failing "at both ends", with the majority of players in the twilight of their career wanting to go to top-four teams.
 
Having previously "sat on the fence" about the mode of player movement, Gordon questioned the process that saw Melbourne awarded pick No.3 for James Frawley versus the Dogs getting No.26 for Shaun Higgins.
 
"In terms of the amount of the contract, the years of the contract and the factors which are in there, that's a bizarre and unjust outcome," he said.
 
"Whatever may be said about free agency, these things are clear – it does not exist for the benefit of the top four teams. That's not the purpose of it.
 
"I think there is a difference between providing players an option that gets them a better financial return in the best and most income productive years of their careers, as one objective, and an objective that gives them a walk up, red carpet entry into a team contending for a Grand Final.
 
"There's hundreds of players in the AFL and they'd all love to play in a Grand Final.
 
"This is about compliance with competition laws and the ability for free trade - I think we do have to look at that."
 
McCartney is believed to have left Whitten Oval after arriving early this morning. 
 
He will release a statement later in the day.
 
Director of football Chris Grant will head a panel that appoints the next coach.
 
CEO Simon Garlick said the process to find McCartney's successor "will start in earnest" now and didn't believe the Dogs would miss out on the best candidate because they moved on their coach after Gold Coast and Adelaide did.
 
"Ken Hinkley at Port is a great example of where they were conceivably late in the race for something like that," Garlick said.
 
"It is what it is. We're now embarking on a process by which we'll look to appoint the most appropriate and effective senior coach for us."