COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley says he would walk away from coaching the club at the end of this season if he felt the Magpies were better off with a new direction.
Buckley's two-year contract expires at the end of this season and the club will not rush into negotiations on a new deal.
The former Magpies skipper and champion midfielder will enter his 10th season in charge of the club having been handed the coaching reins at the end of 2011.
>> WATCH THE BUCKLEY INTERVIEW IN THE PLAYER BELOW
He said he had spoken with Pies chief executive Mark Anderson and the club's new football boss Graham Wright about how they will handle the discussions, and revealed he could leave the role if it was for the betterment of Collingwood.
"Those conversations take place consistently and it's a really easy one because whatever's best for the football club will occur. There's a settling period that needs to happen or a reinforcing period or a reestablishing period that needs to happen," Buckley told AFL.com.au.
"Our performances this year, no doubt, are going to have a say on what is best for the club going forward.
"I don't feel like I have to be the senior coach going forward if that's the best thing for the club and I feel that I can still impact and help the club move towards contending consistently and winning flags well then I'll put my hand up.
>> LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW IN THE PODCAST BELOW
"And if the club felt it was better to go in another direction then I would understand that. That conversation will be held in good faith and it's not something that we'll be addressing until later in the year."
Buckley steered the Pies to the Grand Final in 2018 and has made the finals the past two seasons, but the club starts this season under the microscope after their Trade Period last year, which saw the club jettison Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips to rival clubs due to salary cap pressure after their semi-final exit.
He said the Pies had spent the past few weeks "unpacking" the hub experience of 2020 as well as the club's 'Do Better' report into racism, and said he had spoken to players about making a lasting impact at the club whilst there.
"We're only custodians for the time we are there. We contribute to the football club as much as we can and we want to get the best out of ourselves, but you want to leave it in a better place," he said.
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"Yes, if the club can be better making a change with our playing list or making a change with our coaching group or senior coach or CEO or a board member or a president, well then that should happen for the betterment of the football club. We've just got to keep making those decisions."
Buckley has been pragmatic about his coaching stay in the past, saying in 2016 that he would lose his job if the Pies didn't reach the finals in 2017. They didn't, however the following season shot up to get within a goal of a breakthrough premiership for Buckley in an epic Grand Final clash with West Coast.
He said the Pies had not wavered in their hopes for the upcoming season but did not set a benchmark for 2021.
"We know that we lost some players without really replacing experience, as such. We brought in a really solid batch of young kids and they've trained up really well. Half of them haven't played for 12 months given COVID, but what we see I'm really happy with what the recruiting group have done," he said.
"But you can't expect first-year players to come in and have an instant impact. You'd like to think a couple would pop through, and in the end I'm pretty sure they're thinking 'We can help make a difference for you'. So the challenge for us is really looking after that top end and getting the most out of our top end and having growth come from the middle and really challenging for spots.
"We haven't lowered our expectations. We believe that we should be a team that wins games consistently, that qualifies well for finals and contends when we get to September. That expectation hasn't shifted and hasn't changed, and we still believe our best football is going to contend against the best teams."