St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has praised the `clarity’ at AFL club Carlton, knowing first-hand that change is rarely quick or easy.
The Saints collected the wooden spoon in 2014, Richardson’s first season in charge.
Improvement was steady the following year but draftees take time to develop and they rarely pushed the league’s best, recording six wins.
Contrast that with the side they face at the MCG on Sunday.
The Blues finished rock bottom in 2015 after a messy split with mentor Mick Malthouse.
They already have six wins this year and on recent form should bank a few more, with so many players looking like different beasts during Brendon Bolton’s first year in charge.
In the past three weeks Carlton have tested Hawthorn, Sydney and West Coast – losing by an average margin of 10.66 points.
“Clearly under Bolts they’ve got real clarity around what it looks like in terms of the way they want to play,” Richardson said on Thursday.
“They’re playing with real energy and spirit and understanding.
“They’ve certainly been strong, they’ve played quality teams in recent times and been more than competitive. They’ve been in the game really late.
“We expect them to be really strong and we’ll need to be at our best to be in the game.”
Richardson noted the Blues weren’t lacking in experience.
“Clarko (Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson) made the point after the game that the Hawks were probably a little bit younger than them last week,” he said.
“They’ve got some players who have been around for a while that are playing some really strong footy.”
The Saints are coming off a 23-point loss to North Melbourne, which all but ended their hopes of returning to finals for the first time since 2011.
Richardson termed it a disappointing result.
“We’ve said all along that our best footy has improved, we think there’s still too big a gap (between their best and worst),” he said.
“We reviewed the performance – what did we do well? What did we not do well? What caused frustration and what are we going to do about it?”
Meanwhile, Richardson said young forward Paddy McCartin had “no issues with respect to his concussion” in the VFL last weekend.
McCartin, taken with pick No.1 in the 2014 draft, has suffered three concussions this season.