Despite enjoying a long-standing close personal and professional relationship with Mick Malthouse, Dale Thomas says he understands why Carlton felt compelled to sack the record-breaking coach.
Malthouse was axed by the Blues on Tuesday, only hours after slamming the AFL club’s initial decision to wait for a fortnight before deciding his coaching future.
Club president Mark LoGiudice said Malthouse’s “obvious public misalignment with the football club had resulted in a loss of trust between the club and coach”.
Thomas was a key member of Malthouse’s 2010 Collingwood premiership side and rejoined his mentor at Carlton last year on a big-money deal.
“It’s probably a tricky one for me obviously because I do have a close relationship with Mick,” Thomas told Nova 100 radio on Wednesday morning.
“The emotions you feel as a friend, if you then portray them and put them out into the public arena (it can be seen) as your football view as well and media outlets will try to find cracks.
“As a friend I felt sorry for Mick yesterday as he certainly wanted to coach out the season, and I think he wanted to be a part of anything he could to try and rectify the situation.
“He didn’t want to go out on the bottom – not only in a literal sense with the footy club sitting last.
” … I was a little bit disappointed for Mick, but I fully understand that’s the business we are in.
“You can’t dwell on these things for too long as we have to roll up and put in a better performance Friday night.”
Interim coach John Barker faces a fiendishly difficult first match at the helm, with the undermanned Blues taking on Sydney at the SCG on Friday.
“He is a fantastic thinker of the game,” said Thomas of Barker, who is also likely to be one of the leading contenders to replace Malthouse on a permanent basis.
” … He’d like to think he can stay on – but as far as the decision goes for the rest of the year I’m not too sure of the process.”
Malthouse coached Footscray, West Coast, Collingwood and Carlton in a record 718 games.
The 61-year-old confirmed on Tuesday evening that his coaching career was now over.