Carlton’s president has declared the Blues to be in the middle of an AFL rebuild but Mick Malthouse won’t be throwing in the kids just yet.
Mark LoGiudice laid clear where he saw his football club sitting this week, confirming what everyone has sensed – Carlton is rebuilding.
But it’s not what Malthouse is telling his playing group, whether he agrees or not.
The master coach and self-declared ultimate optimist couldn’t bring himself to even say the `r word’ on the eve of Saturday’s crunch match with Essendon.
To Malthouse, it’s all part of the tricky business of marrying the short-term and the long-term.
“The president has a message to the fans and I have a message to the players,” he said.
“Whatever words are used around is for the club, for the supporters.
“I can’t allow myself to be drawn into a methodology that suggests that we are going to be less than competitive.
“We will pick a side every week to run down the race to be as competitive as we can.”
Make no mistake, there is a battle going on at Princes Park, but Malthouse says it’s a normal clash within any AFL club.
The two most important people in the Blues’ football department, list manager Stephen Silvagni and Malthouse, have different priorities.
Malthouse is out to win matches and Silvagni is building a dynasty.
And any decisions on trading senior players for a next generation, or the right coach for the future, will wait.
Malthouse claimed full support to chase wins and not player development, leading him to select the likes of 28-year-old Dennis Armfield ahead of dropped teenager Clem Smith.
“(We will not) throw out Judd, Carrazzo, Simpson, Walker, anyone who may or may not be here in two or three seasons,” he said.
“We will pick the side on merit.”
That means Irish recruit Ciaran Byrne has won his senior debut off his own back.
The 20-year-old’s family are flying out for Ireland for Saturday afternoon’s MCG meeting with Essendon, which Malthouse said was a fantastic feel-good story.
“He had the world at his feet in Irish football (and) chose to come over here, spend 12 months learning the game,” he said.
“He’s been through a few traumas.
“He’s one of those kids who’s so dedicated to getting it right and that’s what you love about him.”