Barker puts Blues first

Carlton interim coach John Barker is more concerned about the heavy task of improving the hapless Blues than enhancing his personal aspirations.

Describing his first three days in charge as “a whirlwind”, Barker ended that hectic period with a 60-point loss to the Sydney Swans at the SCG on Friday.

Barker took over after the midweek sacking of Mick Malthouse, who texted him before Friday’s game.

“(Carlton general manager football operations) Andy McKay said to me about 24 hours after I got the job ‘you’ve been the coach for a day and you’ve stopped smiling’,” Barker said.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, it’s been a tough week obviously.”

Speculation about a permanent replacement for Malthouse is already in overdrive.

“My ambitions I think at the moment don’t need to be at the forefront,” Barker said.

“I think I’ve got a pretty heavy task ahead of me, that’s fairly obvious, so we’ll just talk about where we’re going now and what we need to do going forward.”

While a ten-goal loss wouldn’t appear to be a step in the right direction, it did improve on 78 and 77-point thrashings in their two previous outings.

Although disappointed with another heavy defeat, Barker stressed there was far more to the night than just the result.

“We weren’t really looking at the scoreboard as such, we had some indicators that were really strong for us, that we honed in on,.” Barker said.

“Our leaders were really keen to stand for something tonight, and they went a bit of the way towards that.”

Barker emphasised there would be opportunities for the younger players on the Blues list, but not at the expense of sacrificing competitiveness.

“We’ve got to look at kids, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve got to be really strategic in the way we do that, because we’ve got to be competitive,” Barker said.

“There’s a balance there.”

Asked about he mood amongst the players, Barker said, “They just talked about the fact that there’s a standard of effort, and we’re getting closer to that.”

Effort is clearly the buzz word for Barker, who is more concerned in the short term about that than implementing any specific game plan.

“In terms of the game plan and the mechanics, they don’t mean too much unless you can get the effort right,” Barker said.

Chris Yarran (ankle) and Troy Menzel (knee) will both be checked out after getting injured on Friday.

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