IMMERSED in a week of criticism, Carlton has found an unlikely ally in Brisbane coach Chris Fagan.
Although Fagan has a right to be wary, both publicly and privately, as his team prepares to take on the Blues on Saturday, he went well beyond the usual "we expect a tough challenge" coaching line when talking to reporters on Thursday afternoon.
Both clubs have 2-3 records after inconsistent starts to the season, with the Lions belting Essendon last weekend and Carlton succumbing to premiership fancies Port Adelaide.
Fagan is always – always – someone to respect his opponent, but came armed with evidence to support his case.
"I don't make of Carlton what everyone else is making of them this week, that's for sure," Fagan bluntly said.
"I think they've copped some criticism, somewhat unfairly.
"They were within eight points of Richmond at three-quarter time, within nine points of Collingwood at three-quarter time, had a terrific win against Fremantle, which I watched live, and came up here and beat Gold Coast at Metricon.
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"They copped some criticism about their performance last week. They had more shots at goal than Port Adelaide.
"I look at it like they're 2-3, we're 2-3, they're going pretty well. I've got a lot of respect for them."
Fagan accused the "experts" of looking on the surface rather than digging deeper.
The Lions are likely to be without Jarrod Berry for the match, after he hurt his adductor against the Bombers, although Fagan said the midfielder would be given until Friday to prove his fitness.
It is likely to be the only change from last week's team, with Oscar McInerney (ankle) training strongly on Thursday.
"Last week was our most solid performance for the year, so that should give the boys some confidence going forward," Fagan said.
"I thought in lots of ways we played a pretty dry-weather brand in the wet.
"If we can move the ball like that again, I'll be happy with that."