MARK Thompson took some time to decide whether he wanted to be Essendon's stand-in coach this season, but ultimately took on the role – and filled the hole – because he felt his club needed him.   
After three years as senior assistant to James Hird, a job he says didn't "have much influence", Thompson is back calling the shots, determined to prove that gains have been made after returning to Essendon, despite the dramas of 2013.  
"My motivation is to get the club functioning properly in the absence of James," Thompson told
"With him missing 12 months, I thought it was important that we had some experience around the club. And I want to basically show that the last three years of my work, even though I haven't performed the things I've wanted to perform, we've done a lot of good things.
"And if we have a good year this year, then maybe some of those things might be exposed and I can just look at the whole thing in its totality and say 'Well, you know, the club's on its way'."
Thompson has been in the job since October when he was announced as Hird's replacement while he serves his 12-month suspension.
Since, he has won many plaudits from Essendon players, who have been enthused by Thompson's energy and fire.
The two-time Geelong premiership coach has aimed to achieve dual goals: of continuing Hird's priorities, but also implementing his own ideas.
"I'm glad that people are saying the passion's back - it would be pretty hard to do it if it wasn't. I agree with it, I agree that I'm up and into it," Thompson said.
"I've got a certain way I want things and I'm not going to stop until I get them. That's not an undue pressure on anybody at the club, they're just things that I know work at football clubs.
"We'll just implement some of those things during the year and I won't stop until they're done because I know that when they're done properly, things function efficiently and it works. It's an exciting year."
Hird's ban will expire on August 25, four days before the Bombers take on Carlton round 23 in their final home and away game.
Thompson is unsure if Hird would hold an "active" position if the club was on the verge of a finals appearance.
"We haven't even thought about that at the moment, whether James is going to have an active role when he comes back. We might be playing our last game, we might be gearing up to play finals, but it's so far away," he said.
"He'll be certainly coming back to the club so we'll work out his role later."