The finger has been pointed at Carlton coach David Teague as the club accepts another year missing finals, but David King wants to look at the issues deeper.
The Blues went down to an understrength West Coast side on Sunday and have lost a number of close games to the teams above them, leaving them 14th on the ladder at the bye.
King said the numbers suggest Carlton is not fit enough to run out games or quarters.
“This has become a really pointed discussion around David Teague. I want to broaden that a little bit. I think it’s only fair you look at the whole club, not just David Teague,” the two-time premiership player told SEN’s Whateley.
“He’s the most important person at that football club, but they cannot run out games and if you look at scores in time-on, they’re the worst in the competition and you can see it.
“You can see it and Carlton fans can see it. They look out of gas. Are they fit enough?
“To concede consistently like they do late in quarters and late in games makes me think – are they at the level?
“This is from the outside looking in. We only judge the two hours of a weekend and they can refute that, but that’s their lot. They are last in the competition for scores against in time-on and you see it.”
Liam Ryan was dominant on Sunday, booting four goals and taking nine marks from 17 disposals playing on young midfielder Liam Stocker.
King has pointed the finger at Carlton’s highly paid defenders and wondered why they weren’t able to take on the role.
“I look at their recruitment and we’ve talked about this all year. They told us Zac Williams was going to be a midfielder. That lasted six weeks and not many of those six weeks were influential as a midfielder,” King said.
“So then they make him a half-back flanker with almost a caveat to get up the ground a bit and be aggressive and attacking … he spends most of his time offensively geared. He’s not really thinking about defence.
“On the other half-back flank you’ve got Adam Saad who we all know doesn’t want to defend. He’s at that football club because he was asked to do things at Essendon that he didn’t want to do.
“He goes over to Carlton. So there’s a significant spend in half-back flankers at that football club. They’d be spending more on half-back flankers than anyone in the competition.
“Then they decide yesterday that Ed Curnow is not going into the midfield because they want to play Paddy Dow and Will Setterfield and these guys and so they put Curnow to the half-back flank. He is not a half-back flanker.
“He goes towed around all day by Jamie Cripps and at crunch moments he fails. He chooses the midfield position rather than going front and centre.
“As a diligent half-back flanker you’ve got to do your job and that’s stay with your man. It’s not his fault. He tried hard. That’s not his spot.
“You’ve got one guy who doesn’t want to be there, one guy who’s been told to be aggressive and one guy who’s a midfielder coming back.
“And then you go, what’s the plan for Liam Ryan, I wonder? Why don’t we give him to the 12-gamer that hasn’t seen a player like Ryan yet because we’ve got these other guys who don’t want to defend.
“They go in thinking that job will get done. This guy was a stone in their shoe all day. He separated the game.
“Coming into this game from a match committee point of view, and this is why you’ve got to throw the whole lot of them in, this may have been lost on Monday afternoon this game.
“There were probably four guys at West Coast that could take the game off you. Jack Darling, Andrew Gaff, Elliot Yeo if he was to have a day out and he was good around clearances and Liam Ryan. Who else? They had no one else.
“Surely at some stage at match committee they said ‘who can we put on Gaff?’ He just ran his own race. Why couldn’t they say to Will Setterfield, do your best, and if that doesn’t work we have plan B, C and D. Gaff ran riot.
“Liam Ryan ruined the game for Carlton. Your captain (Sam Docherty), who’s been moved to wing from half-back because he can’t defend, all these problems keep coming back to the half-back flank position which I keep getting told is the easiest position in the game, that’s what everyone tells me.
“Carlton have had 17 players at half-back and none of them are working. Instead of going to the co-captain, or Zac Williams or Adam Saad at half-time and saying ‘can you just do a job for us, do a sacrificial role for 60 minutes of footy to stem the bleeding on Liam Ryan and we can win this game’. They don’t do that.
“So this is not a David Teague discussion. This is a full club discussion. I don’t think they’re fit enough and the numbers tell us that. Your list management is under real heat because any time you give up a first-round pick for a player who doesn’t deliver what you need, you invite this.
“Who makes these decisions? Who’s in charge of all of this? Is it Brad Lloyd? Is it Andrew Russell? Where are they today? Your coach couldn’t be in more hot water if he tried and I don’t think he’s getting the support.
“So you can sack David Teague. They’ve had six coaches since 2000. You can keep doing that. Or you can work out where you’re at and make the correct decisions and build.
“They were building beautifully since they got the key pillars in the one draft in Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow and Jacob Weitering. What has gone wrong?”
Ryan was held goalless and to three disposals against Carlton when the two teams met in 2020, with the matchup largely falling to veteran Kade Simpson.
The Blues made the call to delist Simpson at the end of the season, despite the club great wishing to play on.