Suns loss puts heat on Ratten
IT'S often said a week's a long time in footy. And that fact has never been more evident than the one we've just experienced.
In the space of seven days, Carlton went being from a rejuvenated 'certain finalist' after dishing out a comprehensive 16-goal win over Essendon to a shattered also-ran after suffering one of the most humiliating defeats in the club's history against Gold Coast.
And Brett Ratten from feeling secure in the Blues coaching position to wondering how he is going to fill his time in 2013.
In the end, a win would not have gifted Carlton a finals berth, with Fremantle remaining eighth and four points clear after upsetting North Melbourne yesterday - and with a game against Melbourne to come in the last round. The real damage was done during a seven-week period between rounds 7-14 when it won just one game.
But the lasting memory from a season in which Ratten all but guaranteed the Blues would finish top four will be the deplorable showing by a side playing for its survival against an inexperienced Suns side missing more than half its best line-up.
And for that Ratten will almost certainly get the chop by the Carlton board, as early as next week - especially with Mick Malthouse lurking, and subtly announcing yesterday he thinks he's still "got the energy" to coach.
After that mid-season form slump, which admittedly was compounded by injuries, Ratten did well to get the Blues back on track, but just as they were gathering genuine momentum ... bang - "trainwreck", as he described it.
Ratten will be the major casualty and he knows it. Of course, it's easier to sack one coach than 22 players. But, Robert Walls, who was dumped as Carlton coach midway through 1989 after his side suffered a shock loss to the Brisbane Bears, joked that the Blues players should at least donate their match payments to charity.
While in the case of rookie Tom Bell it would be about $4000, skipper Chris Judd would have to plonk down $40,000 - though he should be forced to cough up another $20,000 for lack of leadership, along with a few other senior members.
Lulled into a false sense of security after their performance against the Bombers, the players obviously thought they'd already stitched up their finals spot - despite still sitting ninth.
Carlton supporters had been talking about going along to the game to support the Roos. Not sure if any still turned up, swapping their blues for black.
Carlton dominated most of the key stats against the Suns - disposals (+74), clearances (+8), hit-outs (+21) and inside-50ms (+23) - as much or more so than St Kilda did in its 128-point win against GWS.
Good on Gold Coast for the claiming the sixth - and easily best - win of its short history. They haven't won many games, Gold Coast and GWS, but with Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus suffering the chop after the Power lost to the Giants - they are both creating some carnage.
The Hawks, meanwhile, would be deserved minor premiers after registering a 12th score of 100-or-more points in the epic SCG clash against Sydney.
The Swans suddenly face the prospect of heading into the finals on the back of two straight losses with a round 23 clash against Geelong (in Geelong) to come.
With Richmond, Essendon, St Kilda and Carlton all falling over themselves at different stages in the last month or so, the Dockers will be the Steven Bradbury of the AFL finals race.
They might have really fallen on their feet too with a possible Perth clash against West Coast in the first week of the finals.
The Eagles, steadily returning to full strength, have moved back into the top four after a powerful win over Collingwood but in order to stay there must beat new ladder leader Hawthorn at the MCG this Friday night - and the Magpies lose another one to Essendon the next night.