THIS week has been a stressful week for Carlton, but the vast majority of that stress has been placed on the shoulders of Brett Ratten.
Following a dismal performance by the players last week against the Gold Coast, the Carlton board decided to end Ratts' five year reign as head coach.
The last week has no doubt been the most testing time of Ratts' football career, but it’s a sign of his resilience and mental resolve that when speaking to the players he never made it about him.
He was always focused on what was best for the club, and fought the urges he must have had to leave the club and the playing group angry and bitter, when after all it was us who had let him down.
In the AFL, when a team, particularly a team that much is expected of, underperforms it is more often than not the coach that bares the brunt of that mediocrity.
This is how the system works, but in reality the entire club is responsible for the underperformance that we’ve shown this year and everyone should take stock, and analyse what they can do to improve next year and help guide this club towards the success that our fans deserve.
The reality is, that whoever coaches us next year will be asking us to do the same things that Ratts asked of us, and if we don’t find a way to get those things done, we’ll be sitting in the same position in the near future, albeit with a different face out in front of the press conference.
Before Ratts' final press conference, he spoke to the playing group.
He spoke passionately about his journey in football, about the Carlton Football Club and about seizing the moment.
But his overriding message was for the players to give more of themselves to the club in order to attain team success and to question when we thought we’d given as much as we could, to dig a little deeper and find something else.
It was an important message and something we need to take into this weekend’s game and next season.
In his talk to both the players and the media he made mention of Sam Rowe who battled cancer this year, and Sophia Saly, a highly valued Carlton employee who lost her life to cancer this year.
He used these examples to illustrate just what a privileged position we’re in, and that none of us can afford to waste time and have regrets.
Listening to him talk, he showed that you can still be incredibly passionate but maintain perspective, a constant challenge to anyone living inside the modern day AFL bubble.
I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Ratts as an AFL coach.
He’s a career coach, and is incredibly passionate about the game with one of the best footy minds I’ve come across.
Had I endured the year he has, I’d probably be looking for a break to recharge the batteries, but speaking to him this week, he’s very much a “worker” and is looking forward to the next challenge, whatever that may be.
But he’s still got one more challenge left at our club, and hopefully we can send him off in a manner that he deserves against St Kilda.