A fiasco in Essendon for centuries, but meaningful change remains unlikely | Craig Little

less more than a month ago, Essendon president Paul Brasher said the club would not bow to pressure and would review its football activities. But after a third loss in as many weeks to close the season at two-and-nine halfway through the season, Brasher announced to members that the club was has decided to take a deep dive into her operations.

It seems that those extra three losses were necessary to show Brasher and his board that normalcy is not a strategy. Like the club he leads, Brasher seems to be toiling under some sort of malaise. His speech to Essendon members certainly had the quality of a maladroit epilogue of an already lost season.

“We know the win-lose record is not what we wanted. And of course hard times bring up a lot of other things,” Brasher said seemingly referring to a red-and-black barking for blood, which he went on to understate as “something from a pile of shit.”

There has certainly been “something of a pile up” from Bomber supporters since CEO Xavier Campbell’s reappointment two weeks ago. Brasher apologized to fans, not for the nomination, but for the way it was announced.

“If clubs change CEOs when they go through a certain disappointing period of weeks or even months within a season, you would see a very high turnover of CEOs in the league.”

Brasher acknowledged “that these are all just words and that we will rightly be judged by our actions and our results”. And when it comes to CEO appointments, Essendon has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that they are not one to “wave through a period of disappointment”.

At the time of writing, Essendon has not won a final for a particularly disappointing 924 weeks (or even 213 months). Now in his ninth year as CEO, Campbell has chaired the club for nearly half of that time.

During his speech, Brasher said the club was looking for continued success, and by understanding the context associated with two wins in three months, he warned that progress was not linear. Continued failure, however…

To conduct a broad evaluation of the football department, recruiting and coaching in the midst of a deplorable season speaks for itself. To do it fourteen days after the reappointment of a CEO who set up the football department, the recruiting and coaching departments under review is an all-time fiasco.

Even Essendon great Tim Watson had to give in. “At first glance, that seems like a contradiction.”

But Campbell can rest assured that, on the face of it, the review lacks a determination to turn every rock. Despite its scope, Brasher said the assessment’s actions would likely be incremental in terms of additional resources, rather than transformational. The appointment of current football director Sean Wellman as chairman of his own area of ​​responsibility should give Brasher more than a head start in that regard.

Gerard Whateley of AFL 360 was one who read “incremental rather than transformational” as an indicator that no jobs were at stake. His co-host, and something of a Windy Hill windsock for the Essendon man down the street, Mark Robinson, refuted that “they must be”.

It is expected that Robinson and others will be disappointed. As a second-year coach, Ben Rutten’s position should be safe and Brasher praised Adrian Dodoro on Tuesday, the club’s list boss who has worked at the club for almost a quarter of a century. Brasher praised Dodoro for finding several “hidden gems” over the years. Obviously not enough to build a list that can win a final since Shrek 2, but apparently enough to skate through the review.

Brasher and his board appear to be following the Rosetta Stone of Richmond’s recent premierships, which dictates staying on track, as the Tigers did by staring down the Focus on Football dissidents. Though it’s worth noting here that at least they shared some common ground about their respect and admiration for Brendon Gale.

An interesting contrast is Carlton, Essendon’s next opponent, who has equaled all of their total wins from last season by mid-2022.

This success follows the controversial and comprehensive evaluation of the football department conducted by incoming president, Luke Sayers, who made nearly 40 recommendations and ultimately led to the appointment of not only a new coach, but also a new CEO. This is not to say that a change of CEO is necessary at Essendon, but an extension after a review would be more palatable to members than a stamp.

Sayers’ mandate was that the culture at Carlton had been loss-making for too long. It required transformational change that would be uncomfortable. However, Essendon’s assessment of his football activities feels like a lukewarm bath.

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