THE NEXT Western Bulldogs coach must be able to challenge the club's players.
He will be able to do so because to think all players at the club are incapable of coping with strong feedback is wrong.
Those who ask loudly 'Why would you want to go to the Bulldogs now?' are misreading the situation.
It will be as challenging as most environments new coaches walk into. A little more than most, perhaps, but still inviting enough.
Brett Ratten, Brett Montgomery, Stuart Dew, Brendon Bolton or Nathan Bassett might all be capable of taking the club forward from this position.
Let's be honest - there will be diverging views among the players on what transpired in the second half of the season at the club, and on the change of heart from skipper Ryan Griffen.
Lessons will be learned and certain players will be gone. Some very good leaders will remain.
The list is certainly talented and Brendan McCartney did 90 per cent of the job very well. You can take that as read.
He was preparing to address his deficiencies in 2015 after frank exchanges with the skipper and the board over the off-season.
In fact, the coaching group had invested in AFL-backed programs to provide the right support to all its coaches throughout 2014, in a bid to improve the quality of the week-to-week stuff delivered to the players.
The club had decided to back rather than sack the coach. It should be praised for that initial attempt to push through the bad patch.
The Bulldogs' most senior player had reassured everyone he was on board. Things were on the up, but that path altered dramatically when Griffen changed his tune while on holidays and decided he was out.
Such a decision from a key employee would never have such an impact in a normal workplace but AFL clubs are far from a normal workplace.
What has changed now is not that players run the club; it's that players know they can run from the club and the power of their brand can take people with them. Internal conversations also flow outside the four walls of the club more easily.
Brett Montgomery and Brett Ratten, once colleagues at Carlton, are in the mix. Picture: AFL Media
That shift of power can unsettle club boards that don't know how to manage such situations.
The past two days have been a tough time for all parties involved because the reality is issues never should fester for long enough that they are addressed only when the season is over.
Reviewing should be a constant process at football clubs. Cabinet solidarity should exist.
That is the environment the next coach needs to create.
Some healing will initially need to take place but a good coach will be able to do that because most coaches start with a receptive audience who are eager to please.
The next coach's first step will be building professional, sustainable relationships.
It's all Paul Roos did when he arrived at Melbourne. He joined players in the gym, on treadmills and in cafes.
The Lions' Justin Leppitsch moved his office to be closer to where the players congregated so he had chances to meet incidentally.
Port Adelaide's Ken Hinkley speaks to each player on the list for 15 minutes a week.
Do you reckon those three coaches haven't given their players a burst here and there over the course of the season?
They find what intrinsically motivates each individual. They manage the team and build shared understanding within the football department.
How the Bulldogs' next coach does that will come down to personality and style but it will not be about currying favour or being a good bloke – whatever that is –it will be about creating clarity.
That is what good leaders do.
Those involved at successful football clubs know clarity comes in a range of ways. Sometimes it's through consultation. At other times it is through trust. At all times it's about respecting opinion and then making good decisions.
It was interesting to hear Hawthorn recruiter Graham Wright say during the week that he only discovered Jarryd Roughead's opinion on recruit James Frawley after the former Demon had joined the club.
Roughead told Wright at the best and fairest that Frawley was hard to play on.
You can bet, however, if Roughead thought otherwise he would have got the message to the recruiter and then trusted the recruiter to make a decision based on all the information.
The reigning premier has built relationships and defined roles within the club over many years.
Hawthorn has the pillars of success in place – president, CEO, football director/football manager, coach and talent.
The Bulldogs aspire to become such a club.
The events of the week were a step back from that aspiration but the next coach can continue the improvement McCartney started.