Jobe Watson
Jobe Watson

Essendon coach James Hird was left disappointed by his side's capitulation against Carlton on Saturday and said it could take a few days to dissect exactly what transpired.

The Bombers were completely outclassed by the Blues to slump to a 96-point loss, which was their worst against their rivals since 1936.

"Hugely disappointing performance by all of us. I thought we played 15 minutes and then we really fell away, it wasn't good at all," Hird said.

The coach was at a loss to explain exactly what went wrong, but identified four key areas that went against them.

"We certainly couldn't keep up with them on the spread, they beat us heavily in contested footy, we didn't use the ball as well as they did and we didn't get enough forward 50 entries," he said.

"There's four things that all go together and tie in but when you don't get the ball going your way and can't spread as well as the other team, it's a pretty hard day."

The Essendon coach said he sympathised with the club's supporters after such a hard loss, but added that he would do everything to ensure his side responded in a positive fashion next week against Richmond.

"I don't feel demoralised or low. I feel for our supporters. Our supporters come along, they've been fantastic the way they have supported us since I've been back at the club," he said.

"That was unacceptable from their point of view and they've got every right to be pretty angry about the way we have played and the way we have performed over the last five or six weeks.

"It is my job to find out why and to get it back, but as supporters of Essendon, I can understand why they'd be very disappointed with the way we're playing.

"How our team responds to a disappointing day is what's important to me and that's what I'll be looking forward to next week against Richmond. It's how we turn up and how we fight because after about the first 20 minutes we didn't turn up for the fight. That's the most important part of footy."

The Bombers looked on track for a top-four finish when they had won eight of their first nine matches, but since then it has all gone pear-shaped.

It was a similar situation last season and Hird knows it is becoming a worrying trend.

"It's certainly a tail of two halves of the season, the way we played early in the year and the way we played today it's totally different brands of football and it's my job to go and figure out why and fix it," Hird said.

"This year I think we've literally got five weeks more out of the boys than we did last year so there's a positive, but it seems to be the backend of years we can't compete with other clubs.

"Last year it was around Round 8 or 9 that we started to lose our form and this year it was probably after the Bulldogs game around Round 13 or 14.

"I'd like to think it's a building thing, but that would be wiping away today's performance and I don't want to use that as an excuse for today's performance."

Hird also confirmed that defenders Dustin Fletcher and Jake Carlisle are unlikely to play again this year after suffering groin and ankle injuries respectively.


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