Carlton are reeling after the sacking of legendary coach Mick Malthouse for “public misalignment” with the AFL club’s board.
In the same month as he became the AFL’s longest serving coach, Malthouse was sacked by Carlton president Mark LoGiudice for what he called “a loss of trust between the club and coach”.
The signs of a broken relationship between Malthouse and his board grew as did the Blues on-field woes.
In April, LoGiudice and Malthouse had a very public disagreement on whether the club was “rebuilding”.
Consecutive thumpings by Greater Western Sydney and Geelong cemented Carlton’s place on the bottom of the ladder with a 1-7 record.
On Monday, LoGiudice announced the club would re-assess Malthouse’s tenure after round 10.
On Tuesday morning, the veteran coach took to Melbourne radio station SEN to savage the decision.
“If people can judge me after 30 years, what’s two more weeks mean? That I lose it totally or gain more knowledge about it?” he said in an incendiary interview.
“I don’t really get it – if you don’t know about the person now, what does two weeks show?”
Almost predicting his removal, Malthouse said his axing would be ego-driven and would come with more turmoil.
“Good boards stay sound. Boards crack under pressure, and the first thing that goes is the coach because it relieves a bit of the pressure,” he said.
“They beat their chest because they’ve made a decision, and they move on.
“Very few of them ever work.”
The board’s response was swift, calling an emergency meeting at lunch which resolved to show Malthouse the door and install John Barker as interim coach.
LoGiudice said the coach’s comments forced the board to act.
“I’m disappointed that last night we were aligned, and this morning we were not,” he said.
“Mick’s obvious public misalignment with the football club has resulted in a loss of trust between the club and coach.
“The board today considered the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that not making a change now would only exacerbate our current position.”
LoGiudice and chief executive Steven Trigg wouldn’t be drawn on whether a specific claim brought Malthouse’s undoing.
Trigg lamented the club’s broken relationships.
“Coach, president, CEO, captain, throw in your head of footy, have to be lockstep. Every step of the way,” he said.
“Our view was that wasn’t the case and we don’t need to go through all the nitty gritty.”
The only senior player to speak on Tuesday, Chris Judd, suggested the players were firmly behind Malthouse but would support Barker.
“The main emotion is one of sadness for Mick because he’s a wonderful coach who has really been put through the ringer,” he said.
“Our thoughts are mainly with Mick and what he’s gone through.
“I’m really confident in this playing group sticking together … working hard, getting behind John Barker and pushing for growth.”
Barker will be assisted by Malthouse’s long-term assistant Rob Wiley, while the Blues search for a replacement.
Malthouse’s contract will be paid out in full.
He is the third straight coach Carlton have sacked mid-season, after Denis Pagan (2007) and Brett Ratten (2012).
After his axing, Malthouse confirmed his retirement in a statement.
“I want to thank the AFL and the wider football community for allowing me to be part of their game, and for their continued support over the past 40 odd years,” he said.
“I have loved it all, the good and the bad.”
Malthouse leaves Carlton with an all-time AFL record 718 matches at four clubs, and three flags, under his belt.