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HomeSports NewsAFL news | James Hird linked to Essendon Bombers return, Mick Malthouse,...

AFL news | James Hird linked to Essendon Bombers return, Mick Malthouse, Brendon Goddad comments


Former Essendon captain Brendon Goddard said that it was likely that more people would follow the now-sacked coach Ben Rutten out the door – but James Hird wouldn’t be coming back the other way.

The Bombers are in a fully blown crisis after a disastrous attempt to court four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson blew up in their face.

Having undermined Rutten by publicly going after Clarkson, Essendon sacked him on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the club’s season ended with an 11-goal thrashing by Richmond.

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That’s put pressure on the board to find a viable candidate to replace him, with Hird reportedly under consideration for a controversial return seven years after his cataclysmic first stint as head coach came to an end.

Appearing as a guest on Nine’s Today Goddard was asked if there was any chance of Hird returning to the club, where he coached between 2011 and 2013, and again in 2015, after serving his suspension in relation to the drugs scandal.

Bombers urged to reject Hird

“I think [it’s unlikely] at this point,” Goddard said.

“They’ve made it clear yesterday after that board meeting, and the decision to sack Rutten, that they’re after an experienced coach – so that does narrow the actual candidates.

“What’s needed is time to do an external review, then add that to the internal review they’ve already had, and then make a really good decision and then go through an interview process with all the coaches they put on a shortlist.

“I think that needs to happen before names, like Hird in particular, get thrown around.”

Appearing separately later in the show, iconic ex AFL coach Mick Malthouse scoffed at the suggestion of a Hird return.

“No, absolutely not,” he said.

“He’s been out of the game for a while, for a start-off … but I just don’t think you can forget what took place several years ago.

“Those sort of things, they’re unforgivable, what happened at Essendon. I personally don’t think it would be a good move at all.”

Hird returned to the AFL fold this year to take up a leadership consultancy role with GWS Giants.

While the head coaching appointment will continue to draw headlines until the vacancy is filled, Goddard said Rutten must not be the only casualty of Essendon’s sudden implosion.

“It can’t only just be the coach,” Goddard said.

“I’d expect, based on – after their external review in particular – that there’s probably more names to be pushed aside and heads to roll at Essendon.”

“In this position, when a new board member takes over and makes strong statements, that David Barham has, that I think everyone’s on notice and everyone’s walking on eggshells.

“Their job’s not secure, regardless of their contract and situation.”

Bombers sack coach Rutten

Goddard declined to say whether or not he thought Rutten should have been fired, but said the procedures that led to it were less than desirable.

“The way it was done was terrible – Essendon have been in a position since the drug scandal, they make mistake after mistake, and I reckon this is a mistake as well.

“I’m not saying he shouldn’t go, the simple fact is just how it’s happened.”

Former AFL coach Mick Malthouse agreed that Rutten shouldn’t be the only person to lose his job.

“I do,” he answered on Today when asked if other people at the club were in trouble.

“I think (club CEO) Xavier Campbell certainly looks like he’s in a bit of trouble.

“But generally speaking, if you’re going to do a review of the club, you have to do a review of the club – it just can’t just be one section of the football club. I think the coach takes an enormous amount of responsibility and probably blame, but I think you’ve got to a little bit deeper than that.

“The Bombers need to be very open, very harsh, and have a close look at what the better clubs have been doing over the past few years to get where they’ve got.”

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