Carlton coach Brett Ratten has forecast changes in attack and suggested the axe is poised to swing harder if players underperform against Adelaide on Saturday.
The Blues boss rated Saturday night’s loss to Essendon as one of the most embarrassing efforts in his time at the AFL club.
Ratten admitted Carlton’s sports science experts had denied him his desire to ram home his disappointment through punishing training sessions.
Instead, the message could be sent at selection on Thursday night, although the coach said he was tossing up whether to allow players a chance to redeem themselves.
“Maybe the players can answer that,” Ratten said on Wednesday.
“If you play with that approach, ‘What’s the response going into the Adelaide game?’ and then if they don’t achieve that, they’re accountable for what they’ve said they’re going to do.
“Maybe a few might be asked the question on how they’re going to go about the Adelaide game, if they actually get a spot in the team.”
One certain change is the return of captain Chris Judd, who missed the first three rounds with suspension, while fellow midfielder Brock McLean will go out with a hip injury.
But the misfiring Blues attack is also likely to be reshaped, with Ratten singling out tall forward Setanta O’hAilpin for criticism.
“Overall our big men played very, very poorly on the weekend, just to compete, and that’s been highlighted through the week,” he said.
Forwards Simon Wiggins and Jeff Garlett are in contention to return, along with midfielder Richard Hadley, while defender Paul Bower is a 50-50 chance to come back from a groin strain.
Ratten said there was room for Garlett to play alongside fellow pacy small forwards Eddie Betts and Chris Yarran.
The coach lamented his players’ kicking errors against the Bombers, noting they sprayed shots for goal, missed team-mates and sent numerous kicks out on the full.
He said that partly came from ignoring team instructions to use the middle of the ground.
“You would have thought there was a magnet in the crowd.”
He said the modern reliance on fitness and conditioning experts to precisely determine training loads meant that, along with the phasing out of old-fashioned punishment sessions, there was little scope for extra skills practice.
But Ratten said more pressing than skill execution or strategy issues was the need for greater desperation.
“We need to make sure that we do the fundamentals right as a team,” he said.
“That is when it’s your turn to put your head over a ball at the start of a game or if you’re supposed to press the man, instead of sagging off.
“We had no pressure on (Essendon).
“From a skill point of view, if they’re putting pressure on us, we’ll make mistakes and if we’re putting no pressure on them, they’ll make less mistakes.
“That’s what happened on the weekend and if players won’t do that, they won’t play in the team, simple.”