Article published: November 2012
Brett Ratten fronted up to coach his last game for the Carlton Football Club in Round 23, 2012 having already known that his tenure was about to close for over a week. Ratten's stint covered 120 games of football - in addition to his 255 as player - and covered the extreme lows of 2007, to our seemingly inexorable rise to credibility and beyond, and through the pain and angst of 2012 where it all seemed to fall apart. From the seamless management and excitement of the appointment of Brett Ratten - and our return to credibility - to the disappointing and seemingly answer-less crunch of 2012, views on the 'Ratten Era' remain divided.
But first, a bit of background....
1. The Carlton Coaching Fraternity
Ratten has become Carlton's 6th greatest Coach by games played.
|#||Coach||Years||Games||W||L||D||Win %||Premierships||Runners Up|
|26||David Parkin||1981 - 1985, 1991 - 2000||355||219||134||2||61.97||3||2|
|15||Percy Bentley||1941 - 1955||281||167||110||4||60.14||2||1|
|3||Norman Clark||1912, 1914 - 1918, 1920 - 1922||150||102||42||6||70||2||2|
|18||Ron Barassi||1965 - 1971||147||99||47||1||67.69||2||1|
|1||Jack Worrall||1902 - 1909||144||100||43||1||69.79||3||1|
|30||Brett Ratten||2007 - 2012||120||60||59||1||50.0||Nil||Nil|
Interestingly enough, Ratten is the only Coach of this 'top 6' who did not take the Club to a Grand Final. He also had the lowest Win / Loss Ratio of this grouping. Beyond this list, Ratten's record is most similar to Ken Hands who also won 60 games but from a slightly lower total of 114 matches. Hands coached the Blues from 1959 to 1964, being replaced by the great Ron Barassi.
2. Wins & Losses
Ratten's Blueseum 'Stat Shot' as Coach is reproduced below:
|Stat Shot for Brett Ratten (as Coach)|
|Overall||2007 - 2012||120||60||59||1||50%|
3. The Ascendancy
From the table you can see clear evidence of Carlton's struggles in 2007-2008, before our return to finals in 2009 - 2011. Some would say that Carlton was very unlucky in these years - close but so so far - as we would play in 4 finals and lose 3. The finals are summarised below:
|Elimination Final, 2009||Brisbane||Lost by 7 points||The Blues fell asleep|
|Elimination Final, 2010||Sydney||Lost by 5 points||Judd, Russell and Jacobs were not enough|
|Elimination Final, 2011||Essendon||Won by 62 points||The Blues were dominant|
|Semi Final, 2011||West Coast||Lost by 3 points||Superb effort but no cigar|
Over 5 years, 4 finals in 3 finals seasons is 'not alot' particularly for the old Carlton - but was indeed a welcome return to credibility for fans of a Club which had declined so markedly since 2001. And with 3 being tight away losses, it took a real sceptic to believe that we weren't on the way up in 2012.
And when we say 'tight', we mean 'tight'. 15 points over 3 games; one wonders if Ratten's tenure would have been different with a bit more luck on any of those days.... but history is history!
So what happened in 2012?
Running into Season 2012, hopes were extremely high. The excitement was palpable and Carlton fans were surely avoiding taking any holidays in September again for fear of missing our 'breakthrough year'. This hit fever pitch after our Round 3 demolition of Collingwood - whilst impacted by injuries, our ruck domination and midfield spread had the Blues as Premiership Favourites!!!
In a losing stretch from Round 4 against the Bombers - interspersed with wins against the Pies, Melbourne, GWS and the Dockers - the Blues not only fell well out of the 8 but fell well away from the form teams of the competition. Furthermore, we would be destroyed in some games; video replays of the Round 10 loss to Port and the Round 14 loss to Hawthorn demonstrate that the plan of action for the boys had just fallen completely apart.
Some would say injuries cruelled us, and injuries to Carrazzo (Round 4) and Murphy (Round 7) were clearly material:
|Round 4, 2012||Essendon||Andrew Carrazzo – 7 weeks||3 Wins, 0 Losses|
|Round 4, 2012||Essendon||Jeremy Laidler - Season||3 Wins, 0 Losses|
|Round 4, 2012||Essendon||Chris Yarran - Out / Poor until Round 14||3 Wins, 0 Losses|
|Round 8, 2012||Adelaide||Marc Murphy – 6 weeks||5 Wins, 2 Losses|
|Round 15, 2012||Collingwood||Shaun Hampson – Season||6 Wins, 7 Losses|
|Round 16, 2012||North||Chris Judd – 4 week suspension||7 Wins, 7 Losses|
Some would say Judd's 4 week suspension was a catalyst but as you can see from the above, we were already dropping away by then - and besides we won 3 of those games!
Some would say it was the drop-off of form of key players from the previous year, such as Jeffery Garlett or the uneven form / injury of Chris Yarran and Matthew Kreuzer, when combined with the above, that tore the heart out of the Club's playing list.
Some would say if we were switched on against Port or even the Gold Coast, we still could have made the finals. Many others would respond with 'if we were switched on' as a counter-suggestion that our coaching group was simply not up to scratch.
So, a Conclusion?
Everyone has a view, and the variety of views is generally offered on 'the Ratten Era'. Whilst we became credible again in this era, some would say we didn't get close enough, before the collapse of 2012 saw us broken, lost and without structure.
From here, Mick Malthouse takes the reins with much the same list, and still the great Navy Blue. History will show that the future offers, but one of the more interesting elements will be the position of 2012 - was this injury induced, did Ratten lose the players, or was the Club overly optimistic?
To express your view on whether 2012 was a story about the Coach, or a story about injuries or even the players - or a combination of all 3, put forward your view on The Blueseum Forums...