Furious Bombers players reportedly unleashed on new Essendon president David Barham due to the poor treatment of Ben Rutten last night, as a faction of the club pushes for controversial former coach James Hird to take over.
As reports intensify that Rutten could coach his last game for the club against Richmond on Saturday night, his job is under a dark cloud with Barham indicating his board would meet on Sunday to discuss their next move.
It’s understood Barham and the Bombers’ 11th-hour bid for Alastair Clarkson backfired immensely on the club president, with numerous reports stating the players leapt to the defence of their current coach during an animated meeting, following news of Clarkson’s deal with North Melbourne.
Barham, admitted that players were “disappointed” at the club’s actions during the week and the lack of consultation, saying: “I have to live with that”.
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There’s a sense around the league that if the Essendon board and hierarchy chose to complete an internal, rather than external review, and decided to remove Rutten earlier, they would have had time to work the Clarkson deal longer, hence bettering their chances at signing the coach.
Reporter Damian Barrett told AFL Media: “There’s issues there now with the players of a significant nature. David Barham attempted to spin this today to the club initially and then the players separately and there was a lot of challenging of David Barham in that player meeting – to the point where they’ve left the club as disgruntled as they’ve ever been with their own club.”
Rutten’s manager Adam Ramanauskas was critical of Essendon’s treatment of the coach, saying the lack of communication from the club’s board was “fundamentally not right”.
Barham had some support from Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd, who said he’d been left frustrated by some of the club hierarchy’s decision-making over recent years.
“I think what David Barham’s doing is courageous,” Lloyd told 3AW Football. “David isn’t in this for himself, David’s seen enough – like I have and like a lot of people who care about the club – so I’m supporting David in what he’s looking to do.”
According to The Age, there’s a push for James Hird as Rutten’s replacement.
Club sources say there is an expectation that Hird will apply for the position, once it is vacant and the exiled former coach who was the figure head of the club’s doping scandal in 2013 has the support of Kevin Sheedy.
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