‘Staggering’ coach bombshell rocks AFL
Several reports indicate Essendon coach John Worsfold is no guarantee to be at the helm in 2020 despite leading the Bombers to the finals this season.
Channel 9's Caroline Wilson and Channel 7's Tom Browne both reported Worsfold's position was far from secure ahead of next Thursday's elimination final against West Coast.
"This is an example of how tough the coaching caper has become," Browne told Talking Footy. "Worsfold isn't a lock for next year despite making the finals. If they're not competitive against West Coast next Thursday night multiple sources are telling me Worsfold will be replaced as senior coach by assistant Ben Rutten."
Wilson also told Footy Classified the former Crows defender was "being primed to take over" and the Bombers had canvassed "senior football coaching figures" to support Rutten after a shocking 104-point defeat against the Western Bulldogs in round 21.
"In these interviews, Ben Rutten has not been named, but I'm certain Ben Rutten is the man they're looking at," Wilson said. "It's not Blake Caracella who of course is coming over from Richmond later this year.
"These conversations happened after the Bulldogs game which was a complete disaster obviously for John and for the club," she said.
"There was real disappointment … There is a view that he hasn't been strong enough, vocal enough, the players want a bit more."
Wilson said the interviews took place before Essendon saved its season with an away win against Fremantle in round 22 but indicated Worsfold wasn't safe. "It's a fluctuating situation," she said. "The most likely coach to go … is John Worsfold.
The bombshell stunned the Footy Classified panel. "So you're saying they're already in the market canvassing support for Ben Rutten, that's unbelievable on the eve of the finals," co-host Craig Hutchison replied.
"It could derail Essendon's final in two week's time," Essendon great Matthew Lloyd added.
"John Worsfold being told, 'If you don't win here, you will not be the coach next year'.
"That surprises me a lot because Ben Rutten's not going anywhere. This senior figure outside of the game? How good are they if they're not in a senior position? That does stagger me."
Despite the reports, Essendon legend Tim Watson believes Worsfold will coach the Bombers in 2020 regardless of the result in Perth.
"I've spoken to (Essendon CEO) Xavier Campbell. He said that he can confirm that the club met Alan Richardson a couple of weeks back for a potential head of development role," Watson told SEN.
"They (the Bombers) have met with a person (Alan Richardson) and John Worsfold knew about it."
Ex-St Kilda coach Richardson recently signed with Melbourne to join the Demons coaching panel in 2020.