ESSENDON veteran David Zaharakis has returned to serve to club great Matthew Lloyd following his scathing comments about its lack of success and culture, claiming he wouldn't know what type of team the Bombers are attempting to build.
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Lloyd, a 270-game Essendon legend, was heavily critical of the processes involved in the club naming its 2020 leadership group – which saw promising youngster and former vice-captain Zach Merrett dumped from the group – as well as its lack of recent success in September.
The Bombers haven't won a final since 2004 and have lost their last six consecutive finals matches following a sustained period of off-field turmoil in recent years.
"They don't know what success is," Lloyd told Channel Nine.
"I think sometimes you've got to taste it and build to it. What's culture? They wouldn't know what culture is.
"They've got to find something that's clear and decisive and stick with it. Not chop and change year after year to try and get somewhere."
However, speaking on Thursday, Zaharakis disputed Lloyd's claims and said the new personnel that has arrived at Tullamarine recently has seen a greater emphasis placed on building a stronger culture.
"I'm not too sure about that," Zaharakis said.
"I was at the back-end of his career, so I'm not too sure what he means. But he's got his own opinions and he's entitled to them. Not everyone necessarily has to agree.
"The culture, especially since 2016 when 'Woosha' (coach John Worsfold) came in, it's completely changed. Obviously, we were going through pretty rough times for a couple of years.
"He's a completely culture-driven person and he's completely changed the club and changed the personnel within the club. We've gotten rid of some people that were at the club and we've brought some other people in. They've been awesome for us.
"Even just having 'Truck' (coach-in-waiting Ben Rutten), (assistant coach) Blake Caracella and (football boss) Dan Richardson coming from Richmond … it's such a strong club.
"It's just the icing on the cake from what 'Woosha' has brought in. They've been great for us too."
Zaharakis, who returned to the Essendon leadership group this year, said the club is now in a stronger position than ever before throughout his time with the Bombers.
"We're building a really strong culture as a footy club," Zaharakis said.
"A lot of the younger group are seeing that and are seeing how to behave as athletes and as professional footballers, but also having that human connection between the whole group.
"We like to think we're a pretty safe environment as a footy club, where everyone can be themselves and buy in to what we're trying to build. I think the footy club right now is in a really strong position, stronger than what it's been in my 12 years.
"I'll dispute highly what 'Lloydy' is saying. If you're not involved in the four walls of the footy club, then you don't really know what's going on."