AN EXTENSIVE review of Essendon's football operations revealed there were "conflicting philosophies" during the coaching handover from John Worsfold to Ben Rutten in 2020.

The Bombers fell to 13th in the final year of Worsfold's five seasons as coach, losing eight of their last 10 games and prompting what president Paul Brasher said would be a "brutally honest" review. 

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The club shared its findings of the month-long review with members on Tuesday, highlighting issues in standards and accountability, player leadership, and identifying what the club stood for. 


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The review found that player empowerment had not worked and a new set of standards were required as Rutten takes control of the team. 

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"There have been conflicting philosophies in this regard within our coaching program: empowerment/own your career vs uncompromising demands on standards and accountabilities," Brasher said in a letter to members.

"It is clear the empowerment approach didn't work well with this group in this environment. 

"Going forward, everybody, not just the players but everybody in the entire club, will be in no doubt about the standards required and will be held accountable for meeting those standards. 

"This will be a major focus area for the coaches and for the new general manager of football." 

Essendon coach John Worsfold and his successor Ben Rutten at the MCG in round four. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Bombers will put more focus on player leadership as a result of the review, which found there was a need to invest in support for captain Dyson Heppell. 

High-performance psychologist Cliff Mallett, who has worked with the AFL in developing coaches through the Level Four program, will review the club's leadership programs. 

Brasher said Rutten was already bring his "strong leadership style to bear" and the players' "overwhelming" support for him as coach was a positive theme of the review.

Ben Rutten addresses the Bombers during their round 17 clash with Port Adelaide. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers are searching for a new head of football after removing Dan Richardson from the role on the eve of Trade Period last month. 

Brasher said the insights from the review would shape who they appoint in that role, with an aim to fill the critical position before Christmas.

It was hoped the appointment of assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa, who has been linked to the vacant North Melbourne position, would help strengthen "relationships and connectedness" among the players and coaches.