The Scottish play, Macbeth, has a particularly easy to comprehend moral: naked ambition, when realised by bloodshed, rarely leads to happiness, indeed, usually resulting in torment and ultimately the destruction of the ambitious murderer themselves.
It is a lesson that Stephen Kernahan would do well to learn, admitting as he has that Carlton have “blood on their hands” after knifing Brett Ratten in the banquet chamber.
Kernahan is no Lady Macbeth. She’s traditionally depicted a shrill harpy type figure, screeching “Out, out damn spot!” while Greenpeace are currently taking court action to have Kernahan’s vocal cords removed as he speaks at a pitch so deep it interferes with the navigation systems of whales in the far Antarctic.
You actually have to wonder why the Blues would do it. Returning the Macbeth metaphor, it is pretty obvious that the cackling witches on the scene – Mathieson, Pratt and the other bloke I won’t name as he gets a bit litigious – were egging the whole thing on.
Yet Malthouse? Is Mick really the answer? There’s no denying the fact that the bloke can coach. Piles of premierships attest to that. But surely Carlton have already learned that getting a bloke in just because he won flags somewhere else isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success.
Carlton are a lot like Essendon here. They still haven’t, at a fundamental level, realised that the flag winning game has changed forever. You simply cannot buy success any more. You can’t jump the queue with cash alone. Flags are built, not bought. Look at Geelong, built a multiple flag winning team over the better part of a decade, almost sacking Bomber in the process.
Same at Hawthorn, Clarko built that team over years, has been there years himself. Even Mick Malthouse needed a bottom finish and a good few years to mould the Collingwood juggernaut.
Carlton aren’t really in a position, given the age of key players, to be embarking on that kind of process. More importantly, they seem divided as a club, with directors and presidents and the playing group drifting in various directions. It is going to take more than throwing a few million bucks at Mick Malthouse to right that ship.
Speaking of a few million bucks, I’m wondering just how Carlton are going to finance all this. They still have an enormous debt, and more pertinently, still owe the AFL from when they were bailed after going all but under a decade ago.
The Bluebaggers are also getting $1m in “disequal” funding off the AFL in the current round. Is sacking your third coach in a row and having to pay him out half a mil really financially prudent? Carlton types will no doubt respond that they have various wealthy types ready to fund them. But they’ve always had a (brown paper) bagful of rich people on board. They still went all but bankrupt by overextending themselves. Here we go again.
It is almost like Carlton embraces hubris.
There is one thing they can be thankful for though: Brett Ratten appears to be putting club before personal welfare or grudges. It’s a mark of how badly Carlton have done this that Ratten still comes away with so much dignity and pride. The man leaves with a positive winning record after all.
Which is interesting given that his first few games included the legendary Kreuzer Cup. Given the recent trend for sacked coaches of teams that got priority picks to tip the bucket on tanking, Carlton can be very thankful that, unlike Banquo, Ratts’ ghost will not rise at an inopportune moment to remind them of their hideous misdeeds.
That can be a job for the rest of us.