Essendon savaged by entire AFL world over Alastair Clarkson pursuit, Ben Rutten treatment


The AFL world has eviscerated Essendon’s farcical week which saw the president replaced, an ill-fated pursuit of Alastair Clarkson and widespread condemnation of the club’s treatment of coach Ben Rutten.

The last-ditch chase for Clarkson ended when he was unveiled as North Melbourne’s next coach on a five-year deal.

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Even Clarkson took a shot at the Bombers in his press conference, exposing the club’s poor management of the situation.

“There was sentiment with Essendon, and I‘ve got enormous respect for GWS, but this just felt right, I feel comfortable here,” he said.

“It was a difficult position to be in, and I was aware it was becoming a circus. I don’t like being the centre of attention.

“We were so far down the road with North and GWS, the Essendon process came far too late to give it serious consideration.

“It was really out of respect that I listened to what they had to say. Due diligence takes a lot longer than four days, for me.”

Kangaroos legend Ron Joseph stuck the boot in further, saying he was unsurprised the four-time premiership winning coach chose the club where he spent 93 games of his 134 match playing career.

“Essendon never frightened me,” Joseph told The Herald Sun.

“I never thought Clarko would follow the drug money to Tullamarine.

“Why would you want Kevin Sheedy looking over your shoulder at that spiritless, windswept hole they abandoned the iconic Windy Hill for?”

But Clarkson was just one blow in a horrific week at Essendon.

The exit of former president Paul Brasher on Monday sparked speculation coach Rutten was about to be fired.

Although he kept his job — for now — the sword is dangling over the head of the coach, who still has one year left to run on his contract.

While players have said they want Rutten to stay, footage of defender Nick Hind seemingly ignoring the coach in last week’s 83-point drubbing to Port Adelaide sparked plenty of questions.

Former coach and Bombers legend James Hird has been linked to a return to the role,

Whoever does get the job will have some fires to put out however.

Herald Sun reported Jon Ralph stated on Fox Footy on Friday the players had a heated meeting with new president David Barham over the lack of consultation during the week.

“When Essendon’s players met with David Barham, it was extremely heated. They were savage in their criticism of him and the club’s conduct,” Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph told Fox Footy.

“More to the point, they were very strong, they were impassioned in their support for Ben Rutten. They believe that he should stay on and that he has significant care for the players.”

Mark Robinson told 3AW Football Barham put plenty of noses out of joint.

“It was a free for all on the cultural part of this football club,” Robinson told 3AW Football.

“Staff members feel and a few of executives feel they were abandoned and locked out by the board, by David Barham. ‘I’m doing this, I’m going to go and make the hero move. I’m going to plot and sack and go and get Clarkson.’”

Damian Barratt told AFL Media there were already “significant” issues between the players and the new president.

“David Barham attempted to spin this today to the club initially and then the players separately and there was a lot of challenging of David Barham in that player meeting – to the point where they’ve left the club as disgruntled as they’ve ever been with their own club.”

But speaking to Seven News, club great Tim Watson savaged the club, and said he couldn’t see a way forward with CEO Xavier Campbell.

“The club is shambolic and frankly Essendon fans should be appalled at how this has played out,” Watson said.

“They get that chance now to make transformational changes which will include a new coach.

“I can’t see club CEO Xavier Campbell continuing in his role either given he supported the retention of Rutten and strongly supported the outgoing president.

“So by the time a ball is bounced in 2023 this will be a very different looking Essendon club.”

And judging from how social media has reacted to the week, it’s clear people want change.

Originally published as ‘Spiritless hole’: Essendon savaged by entire AFL world

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