Carlton boss speaks out on Michael Voss after devastating AFL loss

The Blues have lost four of their last five games and risk missing the AFL finals by a wide margin after last weekend's loss to Collingwood.

Luke Sayers and Michael Voss.
Carlton boss Luke Sayers has stood by coach Michael Voss, after the club tumbled out of the AFL top eight. Pictures: Getty Images

Carlton coach Michael Voss has received the public backing of Blues president Luke Sayers in the wake of the club's thumping at the hands of Collingwood last weekend, which prompted speculation his job could be at risk. After a fast start on 2023, the Blues have since dropped out of the top eight.

The 28-point loss to the Magpies was characterised by wayward kicking in front of goal, something of a running theme for the Blues this season. Carlton has won just four of their 10 games this season, with five losses and a draw from their season-opening clash with Richmond.

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Voss is in his second season in charge of the Blues, and despite being contracted until the end of the 2024 season, came under scrutiny following the loss to Collingwood. The spotlight has been on Carlton this season after they faded badly in the second half of the year to narrowly miss making the finals.

Sayers said the club was still aiming to work their way back into the top eight, declaring Voss had been a 'tremendous asset' since his hiring in late 2021. The Blues haven't played a final since 2013, when they memorably earned their way into the top eight courtesy of Essendon's disqualification that season.

“Vossy is our coach through to the end of next year,” Sayers said. “Michael Voss has been a tremendous asset for this football club and we‘re looking forward to doing great things with him in the future.”

Voss was seen in an animated discussion with Blues captain Patrick Cripps and other players on the boundary line mid-way through the game, and Sayers said he had no problem with the coach giving frank feedback to the team. “We’re not playing good footy at the moment. We’re not happy with where we are at. We’ve got to get better,” Sayers said.

Collingwood defender Darcy Moore was the most influential player on the ground, repeatedly halting Carlton's attacking play with a record-equalling 10 intercept marks. Trailing by 35 points at the main break, the Blues had a dozen scoring shots to five in the second half but couldn't get closer than the final margin.

It left them with a fifth loss from their last six outings. "Collingwood are the top team for a reason," Voss said.

"They're not going to surrender that (lead) back too easily. We were able to get in the fight a bit but the fight doesn't win you the game.

"So we find ourselves in a situation where right now we're not good enough, and we've got to find a way through that pretty quickly."

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Speaking on Monday, star midfielder Sam Walsh said he remained bullish about what the team was capable of, but said they hadn't shown it in the past few weeks. He said the Blues needed to put significantly more pressure on their opponents than they had in previous games.

“Our ability to defend wasn’t quite there ... they’re obviously a quality side by ball use, and if you’re not in a position to put pressure on them, they’re going to kick goals,” Walsh said. “The result would probably suggest that we’re not playing our best footy – and I think we know that.

"It’s time to really fight as a club. The thing that you can bring always is effort and that defensive intent.

"Mistakes are going to happen, and I think the best teams in the competition are consistent over four quarters, so [we need to] get to work on that.”

Carlton's Patrick Cripps and Jacob Weitering lead the team off the ground.
The Blues were left frustrated after being handily beaten by Collingwood, their fourth loss in five games. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Tom Mitchell completed plenty of grunt work, finishing with 26 disposals, 15 contested possessions and eight clearances in what was Collingwood's sixth straight victory. Jordan De Goey (27 disposals, 13 contested possessions, five clearances) and Scott Pendlebury (21 touches, eight tackles) were also important, while Brody Mihocek (four) was the game's leading goal-kicker.

Brownlow Medal fancy Nick Daicos was shadowed by Ed Curnow after half-time and finished with 27 disposals. He will come under scrutiny for a blow to Blake Acres' stomach, which will likely attract a financial sanction.

Ash Johnson's huge mark on Marc Pittonet's shoulders and Bobby Hill's scorching run down the wing to set up a Mihocek goal were fitting highlights in the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round. The Magpies kicked nine of the first 11 goals and led by 44 points before half-time, effectively ending the contest early.

With AAP

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