It’s an intriguing one, because does he know it’s going to be any better at Princes Park? After a long rebuild, Carlton haven’t exactly delivered on their ‘Blueprint’ for success.
On exposed form, how can he really know the Blues culture?
That’s not to say someone like Saad or Joe Daniher can’t have concerns with the way the club is run, far from it.
But at what point is it their responsibility to change that and what exactly defines a great culture?
I’d argue there are countless businesses, organisations and footy clubs, that have still been successful without having great cultures.
It’s been well reported West Coast of the mid-2000s were formidable on the field, but that wasn’t necessarily a product of the standards the players met off it.
I think people get confused that winning means you’ve got a good culture and losing means you’ve got a bad culture.
It’s not that simple.
In many ways, strong leadership is the backbone of any organisation’s success. Strong leadership is required to build a solid culture, but they aren’t the same thing.
Culture, in a true sense, isn’t built overnight, but over long periods of time.
Geelong are perhaps the greatest example. It’s why the Cats consistently give themselves a chance year after a year.
It’s come because they’ve got their ducks in a row. Chief executive Brian Cook is a veteran of the footy industry and clearly a strong influence.
Underneath him during the premiership years was Neil Balme as footy boss, and more recently Scott and Joel Selwood have driven the standards as coach and captain.
Hawthorn, after all those years of success, are another club who I believe boast a strong culture that’s been built over time and that hasn’t changed despite the Hawks not winning as much this season.
What about Brisbane? A few years ago, the Lions were considered a basket case. Now, they’re a destination club, with great leadership.
They’re building a good culture.
I would argue they’ve got good people in the right positions and now that is translating into success on the field.
Much of Richmond’s recent success has been put down to culture of selflessness, after distinct changes from the club’s leadership that have been well documented.
A few off-field indiscretions and a couple of 50-metre penalties in finals doesn’t diminish what this club has achieved over the past few years, despite some of the commentary this week suggesting their standards have slipped.
Let’s not forget this has been a very different season. That’s a variable no one could have predicted. It’s also why, people at Tigerland, shouldn’t be concerned.
But in a trade sense, it seems we’re going to be hearing talk of culture more regularly. Often it has been the go-home factor, or family reasons. Maybe that explanation has worn a little thin.
Maybe, we’re just not mature enough to know the real reasons behind a player’s decision.
It’s funny because clubs and supporters never take great joy in their players leaving, but for most in the industry the lead up to the trade period has almost become a bloodsport.
Players are almost encouraged to move.
Everyone’s situation is different, whether it be Marc Murphy staying loyal to Carlton, or Shaun Higgins possibly departing North Melbourne because the Roos won’t guarantee his future.
With the introduction of free agency several years ago we’re clearly becoming more like the US where someone like LeBron James is on the verge of winning a championship with his third different team on the back of titles with Miami, Cleveland and perhaps soon, the Lakers.
Basketball is very different in that one player can change a team.
LeBron makes any team he joins an automatic title contender, but he also moved to be a better chance of winning another ‘ring’ elsewhere.
Do we really want that type of system? Once upon a time trading was skewed in the clubs’ favour, but now I think it’s too far the other way.
And using ‘culture’ as a get-out clause, particularly from player managers, is a lazy way of justifying a move.
Two-time AFL premiership captain and columnist for The Age.