A FRUSTRATED David Teague has backed Carlton's brand in the wake of another disappointing loss on Sunday, but conceded his Blues outfit has not improved in the manner he'd hoped this season.
Teague said execution was to blame more than game plan for a 22-point defeat to a depleted West Coast at the SCG, as Carlton fell three games behind a finals spot at the halfway point of the campaign.
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The Blues missed a host of early opportunities and again fell away when the game was in the balance, kicking just one goal in the final quarter as a young Eagles outfit cruised to victory.
Carlton is now 0-7 against top-eight opponents so far this year, but Teague said it wasn't just the side's inability to claim a scalp against one of the competition's elite teams that is hampering their fading finals hopes.
"It's more the way we play … I'm more frustrated that we're not playing the brand of footy that we want to play and executing the way we want to execute. We beat Hawthorn and I was as frustrated at half-time as I've ever been," Teague said.
"We're going to judge ourselves on what we can control and how we play. Do we need to step up in the bigger games? Absolutely. But we've got to become more consistent in our brand of footy, regardless of who we play or where we play.
"We've got to work on that and become more consistent."
Teague said he would again review his side's system in the wake of defeat to West Coast, but stressed another dreaded close loss was more about the side's inability to execute the basic fundamentals on game day.
"We'll review (the brand of football)," he said.
"The fact we're in all of these games and we have periods and we have our run-ons, it holds up. But it is something we'll continue to look at. We're slightly tweaking all of the time and learning from our own performances.
"Today, I felt it was more around our ability to execute some of the basics … finishing, marks, hitting kicks, defending the drop of the ball. In terms of the brand and the game style, today it was more being able to execute the fundamentals.
"That's something that, as coaches, we'll work really hard with our players to keep growing."
Despite his confidence in the game plan, Teague conceded Carlton hasn't sufficiently improved on a 2020 campaign that yielded an improved 7-10 win-loss record and saw the club become one of the most active teams during the following Trade Period.
"We haven't improved as much as we would've liked. That's a challenge," Teague said.
"Right now, I don't think we're playing with a lot of confidence and belief. They're training hard, so I think that will turn at some stage. But, as a collective and as a group, we probably haven't improved as much as we'd like to.
"You can tell by the results, we're not getting the results that we feel that we should be able to get if we played more consistent football."
West Coast responded to last week's upset home loss to Essendon in emphatic fashion, recording a backs-to-the-wall victory despite missing a host of key senior players for the trip to the SCG.
The Eagles were without captain Luke Shuey (hamstring), as well as Oscar Allen (concussion), Liam Duggan (knee), Tim Kelly (knee), Jeremy McGovern (knee) and Josh Kennedy (soreness), but still recorded a morale-boosting win.
The side also lost All-Australian defender Brad Sheppard to concussion following a bruising collision with Adam Saad during the first quarter, but were inspired by Liam Ryan's four-goal haul to restore its two-game buffer inside the top-eight.
"We're really proud," West Coast coach Adam Simpson said.
"We played with plenty of spirit. I got the sense all week that we were building towards a game where we could really dig in and make our supporters proud.
"We've been a little bit inconsistent this year, but tonight, we were down on numbers – like every club – but we were missing a few pretty good players. The young kids stood up, but our leaders were exceptional.
"It was our captain (Nic Naitanui), in his first game as captain, but it was right through the lines. Those type of guys, for as much as we're missing some players we've still got some really good leaders in the side."