Essendon’s hierarchy will “make real” four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson’s decision not to pursue, Fox Footy’s David King has warned.
The players were booed by their own fans as they left Marvel Stadium after an 84-point loss to non-finalists Port Adelaide.
King says questions need to be asked about the decision to implement Ben Rutton’s handover from John Worsford in 2020.
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“For six months, if not 12 months, Alastair Clarkson is out of a job at a football club,” King said on First Crack.
“Why didn’t Essendon take that step?
“At the moment they lack discipline, they lack motivation and they lack quality football and I think the Essendon faithful are sick of it.
“Why play against a coach who is still developing when he’s the perfect product?
“Well, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get over the line, but if (Clarkson) signed for North Melbourne this week and Essendon could have the list they’ve got now, I think they’ll be hurt for years by a mistake.”
Rutten is under contract until the end of 2023, but has managed just seven wins this season.
Their defeat at Port Adelaide was their worst of 2022, and both the worst defeat and most points dealt under Rutton.
King said late-season performances showed his faith in the manager and his determination to play at a club that lacked pride.
“It’s hard to get motivated and that’s when you know what kind of football club you have,” he said.
“When you know that, can your coach continue to set the standard and enforce non-negotiables?
“I’m looking at the Essendon hierarchy – are they ruthless from top to bottom?
“2020, the year of Worsfold’s handover, six-and-a-half wins – Root was then leading the tactical side of the game. Last year they won 11 games and this year they won 6 games.
King showed a vision in the second quarter when the Bombers players were moving and allowing their opponents to go to the ball.
“This is Essendon in a nutshell,” King lamented.
“How loose is that? Look at them standing around, rolling around. This is the forward 50. There’s 10 players in this standing huddle. That (style of play) isn’t going anywhere.”
“I don’t understand what they look at when they review games these days if this is a weekend result.
“We only judge what they did in front of us – that’s not the AFL standard.”
King said it was time for “honest discussions” at the club after the surprise finals run in 2021.
“I’m not just talking about the captain and vice-captain, I mean the whole football club,” he said.
“These guys have signed Ben Root – if they have to assess their own role at the football club and if they have to continue doing well.
“When was the last time Essendon was truly ruthless as a football club? It was a long time ago.”
Speaking after the shock defeat, Ruth apologized to the club’s fans for their efforts on Sunday.
“It was the kind of game that our members and fans who came to the game or are watching on television … it’s not something they should see,” he said.
“It was a shameful effort by our people. It is not something that we want to stand for, but it is something that our members and supporters should not see in any forum,” he said.