Carlton coach Mick Malthouse has named Port Adelaide as one of four sides in a “them and the rest” assessment of the AFL.
In a wide-ranging assessment of his team’s poor start to the season, Malthouse split the league into two groups – Hawthorn, Geelong, Fremantle and Port Adelaide – with the remaining 14 sides a long way off.
He also pointed to his first couple of years at Collingwood, when they went from second-last in 2000 to nearly winning the 2002 premiership – as an example of what might be possible for Carlton.
“The top-four sides, I think we trail them badly,” he said.
“But things can get turned around pretty quickly.
“Collingwood went from zero … to a grand final two years later.
“If we have another year like we did last year recruiting-wise and the boys stand up – and I’m talking about injuries, that sort of stuff – then we’ll have a very good football side.
“We’ll have that side that can challenge the top four.”
Malthouse also said defender Andrew Walker was “exactly right” to criticise the Blues for being too quiet on the field.
Walker said after Saturday’s upset loss to Melbourne that the Carlton players were not vocal enough and called their poor form “a yuck feeling”.
“It’s exactly what (president) Stephen Kernahan has said and what (chief executive) Greg Swann has said … it’s the quietest club I’ve ever been at,” Malthouse said.
“He (Walker) has said an absolute fact.
“I would expect him to do something – but he’s a quiet person (and) that’s not pot-shotting him.”
While Carlton’s AFL season needs intensive care, Malthouse insists he’s in excellent personal shape.
He turned 60 last August, and has fiercely rejected any suggestion that the stresses of senior coaching might be too much for him.
The three-time premiership coach has been his usual combative, passionate self over the last month as he tries to turn around Carlton’s horror 0-4 start to the season.
The league’s oldest current senior coach is contracted to the Blues until the end of next season.
“I have never been fitter, I’ve never been stronger, I have regular checkups,” he told the Nine Network’s Footy Classified.
“I would never put myself or my family in a position where it would detract from me going forward.”
His wide-ranging interview on Monday night completed a day of media commitments for the Blues’ leadership as they faced the music over their club’s plight.
President Stephen Kernahan and captain Marc Murphy also faced a barrage of questions over what is wrong at Carlton.
Malthouse says the two main reasons for Carlton’s onfield problems so far this season are a lack of confidence and too many players coming off interrupted pre-seasons.
He is adamant they can turn around their fortunes quickly.
“It could be just one bit of good luck, just one kick, that gets you there,” he said.
The Blues finished ninth last year and were elevated into the finals because of Essendon’s expulsion over the supplements scandal.
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