AND WE thought Collingwood's coaching succession deal didn't go to plan.
Compared with Essendon's John Worsfold into Ben Rutten plans of 2020, the Pies' Mick Malthouse to Nathan Buckley baton transfer of 2011 appeared almost seamless.
Buckley at least took over a successful on-field outfit; Rutten is inheriting a team which hasn't won a final in 16 years, and now obviously after Sunday's bad loss to St Kilda, won't be figuring in this year's top eight.
Essendon constantly tells the football industry that its Worsfold-Rutten arrangement is working beautifully internally. Maybe it is too cosy for it to have any actual impact where it matters – in the win column.
Rutten, known as 'Truck' during his playing days at Adelaide, is the coach of the 2020 Bombers in every way other than the official Bombers' org chart, and the future of this club has already been placed in his hands.
As of next Saturday night, when the Bombers play Richmond in the 2020 Dreamtime match in Darwin, Rutten should assume all main-coach responsibilities – private, public, and certainly in all team dealings. Worsfold should now realise he needs to let Rutten do things his way. To wait until after round 18 to officially transfer control would be too late.
No matter what happens in Essendon's remaining six matches – against the Tigers, Hawks, Eagles, Cats, Power and Demons – Rutten is already facing a massive task from 2021 to resuscitate the limp football operations of this club. He may as well begin that task, without Worsfold playing the figurehead role, from today.
Essendon has incredibly held itself together off the field after the self-inflicted drugs debacle of 2012. But it was a badly run club before then, and the football operations since – coaching, drafting, development – have fallen short.
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Big prices have been paid for recruiting some reasonable talent, and as solid as Dylan Shiel has been since crossing from GWS after 2018, the fact that deal meant Rutten won't be inheriting a team with first-round picks from the past two NAB AFL Drafts is cause for thorough analysis.
Yes, there have been serious injuries to key players, including Dyson Heppell, Joe Daniher and Jake Stringer, but the entire list and recruiting arms of the club need reviewing. And Daniher still can't wait to get out of the joint.
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Since beating Collingwood in round five, Essendon has won just two matches – by three points in round eight against Adelaide, the team which is firmly on track to do what no VFL/AFL club has done since 1964, and go through a season winless, and in round six against North Melbourne, which has lost nine of 10 matches since round two, its only win in that time coming against the Crows.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
Rutten is inheriting a very big problem. He needs to start the fix today.
Time to ARC up in close finishes
Here's an idea for future use.
Umpires should be allowed to access the ARC (AFL Review Centre) to deal with the type of heady moments that occurred just before and immediately after the final siren of Saturday night's Fremantle-Carlton match.
When that siren sounded, the Blues were two points behind. They had just been awarded a down-field free kick. Jack Newnes was given the kick and his subsequent goal won the match for Carlton.
For what it's worth, I felt the deliberate out of bounds paid against the Dockers' Matt Taberner was the right call and the free kick paid against the Dockers' Andrew Brayshaw for his contact on Sam Docherty was the wrong call.
In the understandable confusion and mayhem that then followed, umpires seemed to have varying views on where the Blues' down-field kick should have been taken, and who should have taken it.
The kick, in my eyes, should have been several metres further from the goal than it ended up being, and very clearly, should have been taken by Michael Gibbons, who was the closest Carlton player to the ball kicked by Docherty.
Some of this confusion could have been mitigated had the controlling umpire been able to call for operators of the ARC to forensically analyse the events.
Given the final siren had sounded, there would have been none of the usual time pressures in studying the video, which would have allowed for a clearer reading of where the ball sailed out of bounds as well as establishing that Gibbons had to be the kicker.
No matter what the AFL says on Monday about all aspects of this situation, at least one and possibly two components of it just didn't feel right.
And if you don't agree with that, ask this: would you be comfortable if a Grand Final was decided in such a way?
Tomahawk's the sharpest he's been
Membership of the Tom Hawkins Appreciation Society is growing with each match of 2020.
There's something very special, even mesmerising, when a key position forward hits a hot streak of form, which Hawkins has done with 19 goals in his past five matches as he has led his Cats on a surge that has established them as high-end premiership challengers.
Hawkins' six goals against Port Adelaide on Friday night was the standout performance of any player this season. Incredibly, given he's now 268 games and 14 seasons in to an outstanding AFL journey, is already a best-and-fairest winner, a two-time premiership player and has twice been named a Virgin Australia AFL All Australian, Hawkins' stretch of form in the past five games has been career-best.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
With Gary Ablett likely to return for at least the final two home and away rounds, Geelong is beautifully placed to reach its first Grand Final since winning the 2011 premiership.
Since that season, it has played 15 finals and reached four preliminary finals. It is actually a record which should be celebrated, not decried. And remember, the Cats – without a suspended Hawkins – were 21 points clear of eventual premier Richmond at half-time of last year's preliminary final.
From flag favourites to whipping boys in three years
For the Crows, 2020 started with hope under a new coach and captain. Quickly, it turned to despair, and now it is worryingly sad.
The fears around them becoming the first VFL/AFL team since Fitzroy in 1964 to go through a season winless started to take hold a month ago, and after Sunday's mauling by the Western Bulldogs, it seems inevitable that that unfortunate outcome will be added to this club's already very ugly post-2017 timeline.
Since round eight, the Crows have provided struggling opponents with desperately needed wins. Essendon beat them by three points, and hasn't won since. North Melbourne beat them the following match, the only time the Roos have won in their 10 matches since round two. Melbourne belted them in round 10, a week after the Demons' president Glen Bartlett publicly smashed his own players. The hapless Collingwood beat them in round 11, and the Bulldogs, who had lost their previous three games, won with ridiculous ease at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.
ROUNDS 12-18 Check out the full fixture
The Crows' matches to come are against Geelong, Hawthorn, GWS, Carlton and Richmond.