Essendon is torn apart by the AFL and sporting pundits and pundits after a tumultuous week that ended with the sacking of manager Ben Rutten.
The Bombers announced the immediate departure of the two-year-old head coach on Sunday, less than 24 hours after their season ended with a big loss to Richmond.
The news capped what has undoubtedly been one of the most embarrassing weeks for an AFL club in recent memory.
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After horrific losses to the Giants and Power, it was reported on Monday that Rutten was likely to be knocked out before Round 23.
This did not happen, although the club hierarchy then engaged in a public pursuit of free agent coach Alastair Clarkson, who had been courted by the Giants and Kangaroos for several weeks prior.
While entertaining Essendon for a few days, Clarkson revealed on Friday that he never seriously considered joining the club as he felt he had not done his due diligence in pursuing him as a replacement for Rutten.
News that Clarkson had snubbed Essendon for North Melbourne was followed by a chaotic press conference on Friday by Bombers chairman David Barham, who argued with the media but admitted Rutten had been ‘hurt’ by the saga Clarkson.
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After Saturday’s loss, Rutten was visibly upset in the hangars and told reporters “I probably think I deserve better” than the way he had been treated by his club.
In another press conference on Sunday, Barham said the club were keen to find an “experienced” head coach but could not give any examples or speculate on who might be available.
Bombers legend defends his coach’s sacking
“Who would take this job? AFL great Wayne Carey asked Triple M radio following the Rutten news.
“You have a guy (Rutten) who is new to the job, second year, took them to the final in the first year. They had a bad year, but two years into his coaching career and they took him did that. The treatment of him.
“If you’re a young manager coming in… you’d be sitting there saying ‘why would I take this job? “.”
While Rutten is the man who was sacked, the majority of the AFL world is turning the torch on those higher up the chain in Essendon.
The Bombers haven’t won a Finals game since 2004, and starving fans are in danger of rioting after last week’s events.
“The people in power to make football decisions have to go,” said AFL top coach Ross Lyon.
“If I had been part of this (internal) report and they had done what they had done, I would pack my bags and leave… you clearly made some bad decisions.”
The chaos at Essendon transcended the AFL and captured the attention of the wider Australian sporting community.
Tennis great Todd Woodbridge was stunned to see Rutten in the lead on Friday and Saturday after being treated like he was by Barham and others.
“I don’t understand how you can throw your trainer under the bus like that and then expect him to show up and deliver like he did,” Woodbridge told Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“Ben was amazing, the attitude he took in that last game.”
The bombers “threw” Rutten “under the bus”
While most AFL pundits take aim at Barham and the board, Essendon great Matthew Lloyd has a different view.
He is fed up with the lack of success at the club and believes the Bombers need to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
He bristled at the suggestion that Barham could be knocked down and kicked out of the chair.
“Can I ask who would challenge him (for the presidency)?” Lloyd asked about Nine’s AFL Footy Show.
“He didn’t have a big press conference, he didn’t handle Ben Rutten well enough. But for me, he’s championing the change that needs to happen at the football club.
“If he (steps down), who will replace David Barham?”
Barham said the search for a new coach would begin immediately, but did not set a timeframe for the process.
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