Mick Malthouse looms large as the main candidate to replace Brett Ratten at Carlton after Blues president Stephen Kernaghan confirmed the former Collingwood boss is 'in the mix' to take over.
While both Kernaghan and Carlton chief executive Greg Swann denied having spoken to Malthouse yet, the Blues president made it clear the club is looking for an experienced coach to replace Ratten, who was sacked by the club on Thursday.
Both Malthouse and former Sydney coach Paul Roos have been linked to Carlton throughout the season and while Kernaghan refused to name a preferred candidate, his description of the Blues' ideal recruit leaves them with limited options.
"We're looking for a respected senior coach that's hopefully coached (to) a premiership and he'll (Malthouse) certainly be in the mix," Kernaghan said.
In another indication of Carlton's priorities, Kernaghan hinted if Malthouse had not been available, Ratten may have kept his job.
"It's a close call ... Mick Malthouse is available? Well if he's said he is, we'll find out, I don't know," Kernaghan said.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Kernaghan revealed discussions about Ratten's future at Carlton had started mid-season after the Blues lost to Port Adelaide in Round 10, less than six months after the club extended the coach's contract until the end of 2013.
But while the Blues president and CEO were both keen to claim the decision to cut Ratten loose was not a 'knee-jerk' reaction, Swann did concede Saturday's 12-point defeat to Gold Coast had clarified Carlton's thoughts.
"Those last two weeks, the 96-point win (over Essendon), followed by a loss (to Gold Coast) with so much at stake ... I think that was almost indicative of the year we'd had," Swann said.
"That we were just a little bit, certainly, off the pace."
Swann said Carlton would like to have a new coach signed up within a fortnight and admitted he would like to work with Malthouse again, having been the chief executive at Collingwood during the veteran's tenure with the Magpies.
"I know him well," Swann said.
"We had a great relationship, it was a long time ago now though, it was about six or seven years ago but we've remained in touch and we're pretty good mates. So if he's available it'd be good."
Kernaghan believes Carlton need to get an experienced coach to give the Blues squad their best chance of success.
"I think our list is at a time, you know, Chris Judd, I don't know how long Juddy can play on for, I just think we need to strike, if we're going to strike it needs to be in the next couple of years," Kernaghan said.
"So I just think we need a bloke who's been around the park, not a rookie coach."