Carlton fans lit up the phone lines on talkback radio following the Blues' potentially season-defining defeat at the hands of Sydney on Friday night, furious at the team's lack of heart. The last month or so of the AFL season has been an exercise in agony for Blues fans, as they've watched their team squander an unbeaten streak to start the season to tumble out of the top eight.
Fans had been bullish to start the 2023 season after narrowly missing the AFL finals in 2022, and hopes were high after the Blues followed their round one draw against Richmond with three straight wins. However since then it's been a tale of woe, with the Blues dropping five of their last six games, with wayward kicking in front of goal a key culprit.
Head coach Michael Voss earned the backing of club president Luke Sayers in the wake of their round 10 loss to Collingwood, but fans weren't as confident after the 26-point loss to the Swans at the SCG. Carlton's only win since round four came against North Melbourne, who look destined to finish in the bottom three again in 2023.
The latest display from the Blues, which saw them kick a woeful 6.15 in front of goal, had talkback listeners absolutely irate. Radio stations 3AW and SEN were inundated with Carlton fans venting their frustration following the defeat.
“For gods sake when are they going to wake up, I’m not going next week. My dad isn’t," one 3AW caller mused. "We haven’t missed a bloody game in years. I got married and the next day I watched Carlton and Essendon, I had to watch that before I went on my honeymoon … that’s what this club means to me. Then they dish that bulls*** up tonight.”
It was a similar story over on SEN, and followed an emerging trend of increasingly agonised Blues fans giving the team a piece of their mind in no uncertain terms. The talkback trend was lampooned on Channel 7's The Front Bar earlier in the week, with host Mick Molloy delighting in the misery of Blues fans.
“Let me tell you something, I’m at home and I’ve smashed my TV remote, I’ve smashed my phone I’ve smashed a couple of wine glasses and I am showing 10 times more passion than these pea hearts that are out on the field,” a caller to SEN fumed.
Wayward kicking from Carlton leaves Michael Voss frustrated
There were plenty of reasons for Blues fans to be frustrated, with goalkicking front and centre for many who dialled in. Voss admitted after the came that inaccuracy had undoubtedly cost the Blues a desperately-needed win.
"It's pretty disappointing," Voss said. "But we need to better at finishing. It has ultimately cost us the win. That leaves you pretty disappointed."
Coleman medalists Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow booted 1.6 between them, with Voss determined to get to the bottom of McKay's struggles in particular. Voss conceded that McKay is "in a rough spot with his finishing" but intends to support the 200cm key forward who has now booted 14.16 for the season.
"Nobody goes to work on his game more than 'H'. He's an absolute professional in the way he goes about things," Voss said.
"Right now he's in a rough spot with his finishing. We'll throw our arms around him, support him. Absolutely we will."
McKay again varied his approach to set shots between a drop punt and snap but appeared to settle on the more conventional approach early against the Swans. When McKay sent two drop punts through for behinds he turned to a left-foot snap from a tricky angle that ended with the same result.
"He'll work through this period of time in his footy and ultimately down the track he'll learn a lot about himself and what the ultimate technique is that he wants to go with," Voss said. "But he's obviously in a tough spot at the moment, so we'll support him as best we can and we'll look at all things to be able to help that but also it speaks to the larger efficiency that we need to build into our game."
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