Sacked Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has urged Blues fans to stick with the club despite recent poor showings, saying he had developed a good young list that would stand a future coach in good stead.
The Blues sacked Bolton on Monday after a disappointing outing against Essendon at the MCG on Sunday.
The club said the coach had given his heart and soul to Carlton, but the time was right for change.
At a media conference shortly after he was sacked, Bolton said his young players had further improvement in them.
“To all the Bluebaggers, thanks for your patience but keep supporting these young guys because they are inspired by the noise you make,” he said.
“We’ve made decisions all in the long term. Ultimately, the long term probably got me. But I think now it’s set up for whoever takes over to reap the rewards.
“It’s something I’ve cherished, and will be forever grateful for, to coach a big Melbourne club.
I’m obviously disappointed but I understand the reality of this caper. It’s another Carlton-first decision and that’s the way it is.”
Blues management told players and staff early on Monday afternoon of the decision to remove Bolton, who had coached Carlton to just 16 wins from 77 games.
Bolton, who served a distinguished apprenticeship at Hawthorn under Alastair Clarkson, was in his fourth year as Carlton coach and had arrived with big wraps as a ‘teacher coach’.
But club president Mark LoGiudice, football manager Brad Lloyd and chief executive Cain Liddle acted to stop the rot following the loss to bitter rival Essendon.
LoGiudice had previously said the Blues would keep faith with Bolton, but once Brad Scott and the Kangaroos agreed to part ways it was only a matter of time before the coaching merry-go-round kicked into gear.
The 40-year-old had been aware his days were numbered.
“I was spoken to by Cain last week who said there was a little bit of pressure now on the win-loss,” Bolton said.
“This morning, once I got the phone call, I knew the writing was on the wall.”
LoGiudice insisted the club had not spoken to any other prospective coaches and said the loss to Essendon, in which the Blues mustered just four goals, had contributed to Bolton’s demise.
“It didn’t help, obviously,” he said. “The way we lost some of the games helped the decision, I suppose.”
The club has come under fire for its list management strategy under Stephen Silvagni’s guidance.
Last year, Carlton traded future draft picks with Adelaide, a move that cost it the No.1 selection at this year’s draft on current ladder standings.
The Blues attempted to use the same pick to secure Dylan Shiel from Greater Western Sydney but the star midfielder went to Essendon.
“We’ve gone to four drafts. We always envisaged that we’d look to on-trade to be able to bring in ready-made talent,” Liddle said.
“At this point, we’re comfortable with that decision. But like all the areas of the football club, we’ll continue to review our recruiting and list management to ensure we’ve got the very best people and the very best processes.”
Under Bolton, Carlton in 2016 finished 14th with seven wins; 16th with six victories in 2017 and last with only two wins last season.
Bolton had an overall winning percentage of 20.78 – the third lowest of any senior VFL/AFL coach in charge for at least 60 games.
Liddle acknowledged the club had risked losing talent had it continued down the same path under Bolton.
“If you were to go through another year like last year, that would be tough,” he said. “I understand that players want to play footy because they want to win premierships.
“We need to put this club in a position where it can do that.”
The emotional media conference was a far cry from Bolton’s first in late 2015 when the fresh-faced new coach said his appointment would mark the appointment of a “new Carlton”.
Former coach David Parkin had said the club had to be realistic about what a coach could achieve.
“Pressure comes from the big picture of the people who are trying to raise money, sell memberships, keep members happy,” Parkin told ABC radio. “You might not think that that should be a consideration but I’m telling you, it is.
“He (Bolton) is a fine young bloke and he can coach, there’s no doubt about it. I hope that he’s protected in all of this, but that’s the business he’s in.
“I’ve been sacked four times and it ain’t much fun, I can tell you that. But that’s the reality of the business he happens to be a part of.”