The Essendon hierarchy will “rue” the decision not to pursue four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, Fox Footy’s David King has warned as the Bombers hit a new low on Sunday.
Players were booed by their own fans as they left Marvel Stadium after the 84-point loss to fellow non-finals contender Port Adelaide.
King said questions needed to be asked of the decision to implement the Ben Rutten handover from John Worsfold back in 2020.
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“For six months, if not 12 months, Alastair Clarkson has been sitting idle ready to be grabbed by a football club,” King said on First Crack.
“Why haven’t Essendon taken that step?
“Right now they lack system, they lack motivation and they lack standards as a footy club and I reckon the Essendon faithful are sick of it.
“Why are they gambling on a coach that is still developing when the absolute finished product is there?
“OK you’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops to get over the line, but if (Clarkson) signs at North Melbourne this week and Essendon could have got him with the list they’ve got right now, I think it’s a mistake they will rue for years.”
Rutten remains contracted until the end of 2023, but has managed just seven wins this season.
The loss to Port Adelaide is their worst for 2022, and both the worst defeat and the most points conceded under Rutten.
King said matches late in a season showed the faith in a coach and the set up at a club when there was nothing but pride to play for.
“It’s very hard to get motivated and that’s when you find out what sort of football club you’ve got,” he said.
“That’s when you find out, can your coach continue to drive standards and continue to enforce non negotiables?
“I’m looking at the Essendon hierarchy – are they ruthless enough from the top down?
“The 2020 Worsfold handover year, six and a half wins – Rutten was in charge of the tactical side of the game then. They won 11 games last year, they’ve won six this year.”
King showed vision from the second quarter when Bombers players were walking and allowing their opponents to get forward of the ball.
“This is Essendon in a nutshell,” King lamented.
“How lax this is? Have a look at them just standing around, ambling around. This is the forward 50. There’s 10 players within arms reach of this stoppage. That (game style) is going nowhere.
“I can’t understand what they look at when they review games at the moment if that is the output of a weekend.
“We can only judge the actions they put in front of us – that is not AFL standard.”
King said now was the time for “honest conversations” at the club after 2021’s surprising finals finish.
“I’m not just talking the captain and vice-captain, I mean the whole football club,” he said.
“These guys have signed Ben Rutten – if they have to assess their own role in the football club and move on well so be it.
“When was the last time Essendon were genuinely ruthless as a football club? It was a long time ago.”
Speaking after the shocking loss, Rutten apologised to the club’s fans for the lack of effort on Sunday.
“It was the sort of game that our members and supporters who came to the game or were watching on TV … it’s not the sort of thing they should have to watch,” he said.
“It was an embarrassing effort from our guys. It’s not something we want to stand for and not something our members and supporters should have to watch at any stage.”