Carlton’s winter has arrived, with only growth among talented youngsters likely to provide slices of light in their rapidly deflating AFL season.
The Blues were soundly beaten by Adelaide, the latest of four straight defeats that have taken the wind from their campaign’s sails.
Carlton’s victories over Geelong and Collingwood seemed a lifetime ago at the MCG on Sunday, where Brendon Bolton’s error-plagued side shipping 10 of the last 11 goals to lose to the Crows by 60 points.
Worse, a brutal three weeks comes next with against the last three grand finalists – West Coast, Sydney and Hawthorn.
Bolton’s nurturing nature is prevailing, with the first-year boss accepting mistakes will occur.
It’s how his young side responds that interests Bolton.
“It’s important that players learn not to be deflated by those turnovers. It’s part of growth, of (a) growth mindset,” he said.
“It can deflate you if you let it. Professional sportsmen need to learn that mistakes happen and to work through that.
“It is a common pattern … we can make the incredibly easy look incredibly difficult.”
Bolton’s readiness for his players to make mistakes means the door is open for new additions to join Charlie Curnow, Jacob Weitering and Jack Silvagni as 2016 debutees.
The door is open for Harry McKay and David Cuningham and other young rookies if two criteria are met.
“We’ll bring them in when, one, we think they’re not at risk of injury, two, their form is sound enough,” he said.
“That’s the art of coaching. Making sure you do it at the right time.”
Bolton vowed not to be intimidated by the fixture ahead.
“This competition says if you’re off with mindset slightly or you don’t do it for longer than the opposition you get hurt,” he said.
“We’ll go into every game saying ‘here’s a strategy we think can work’.”