Sport: Essendon legend blasts players for backing Ben Rutten before sacking

Damning vision exposes 'checked out' Bombers

  Damning vision exposes 'checked out' Bombers A clip from Essendon's most recent win has revealed the breakdown in the relationship between Ben Rutten and his players.Rutten remained the coach after a pair of board meetings over the last 48 hours, but looks set to be ousted with a year left on his deal, with Essendon powerbrokers keen on luring Alastair Clarkson to the club to be his successor.

Bombers legend Matthew Lloyd has called for the struggling club's players to be held accountable after a disastrous 2022 season that saw coach Ben Rutten sacked on the weekend - and accused them of hiding the truth when they publicly backed their ex-boss.

The Essendon mentor was shown the door with a year left to go on his contract and Lloyd said the players need to own their fair share of the blame for their horrendous AFL season.

Asked whether the players were 'disingenuous' when they backed Rutten in the lead-up to his sacking, Lloyd gave Footy Classified a blunt 'yes'.

Ben Rutten and the playing group trudge off after another loss in an AFL season to forget © Provided by Daily Mail Ben Rutten and the playing group trudge off after another loss in an AFL season to forget

'The playing group were very disappointing, so they shouldn't get off scot-free on anything,' he said.

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'I think the week was more about how poorly Ben was handled and not about how the team performed and how Ben coached.

'I think people felt sorry for him (Rutten) and looked past the performance of the Essendon players which needs to be looked at.'

While the playing group has publicly supported Rutten, Footy Classified panellist and veteran reported Caroline Wilson said the coach had effectively sealed his fate prior to the last round of the season.

Former Bombers great Matthew Lloyd believes the playing group needs to take accountability © Provided by Daily Mail Former Bombers great Matthew Lloyd believes the playing group needs to take accountability

Veteran ruckman Tom Bellchambers has had an injuy-punctuated year and ultimately announced his retirement from the AFL.

He was fit and available for the final round, but Rutten did not pick him for a farewell match despite the game against Melbourne effectively being a dead rubber.

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'I think [Rutten] had some players and he didn't have others, and the loudest voices were the ones he didn't have,' she said on Footy Classified.

'He started to lose the players with that Bellchambers decision in the first week of his unofficial coaching.

'He was up against it from the start with the factions.'

Dylan Shiel of the Bombers celebrates the win with Tom Bellchambers during the round three AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground © Provided by Daily Mail Dylan Shiel of the Bombers celebrates the win with Tom Bellchambers during the round three AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

On AFL 360 veteran analysts Gerard Whately said the coaching position was the least of Essendon's worries and appointing a new mentor would not solve their deep-seated issues.

'How does the deep-seated disunity get resolved? Because some of this is ancient. They're so installed in the coteries and the board and the football department and there evidently is undermining that goes on,' he said.

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'It's interesting who the next coach is going to be. It's not even vaguely the main thing to solve at Essendon at the moment.'

Nic Martin of the Bombers looks dejected after a loss during the 2022 AFL Round 22 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Port Adelaide Power at Marvel Stadium © Provided by Daily Mail Nic Martin of the Bombers looks dejected after a loss during the 2022 AFL Round 22 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Port Adelaide Power at Marvel Stadium

Co-host Mark Robinson agreed and said the players needed to take responsibility for not following the game plan that led to their demise.

'Ben Rutten and [assistant coach] Blake Caracella brought in a game plan – and all year the game plan has been under question … All year people have said 'you can't defend',' Robinson told AFL 360.

'And then the players, for goodness sake, the players came out on the weekend and said 'oh you treated him badly, we were 100 per cent supportive of Ben Butten' – then play for him.

'That is just crap that 'we're right behind him' – please. They changed the game plan, the players said during the second half of the year 'we're not playing this game plan, we've got to change it' … and then the players came out and said 'poor old Ben'.'

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Essendon turmoil continues with departure of CEO Xavier Campbell .
Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell has resigned after nearly nine years in the position as a tumultuous period continues at the AFL club. The latest change in the Bombers’ senior management structure comes just days after coach Ben Rutten was sacked, with club president Paul Brasher also having stood down from his role. Campbell announced his resignation at a meeting with the staff and players on Wednesday morning, ending a 13-year association with the Bombers, having arrived in 2009 before being appointed to the role of CEO in 2014. His departure comes less than three days after he told media he was confident he had the support of the board and new president David Barham.

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