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Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd welcomes external review into club amid on-field struggles


Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd has welcomed an external review into his beloved club amid its current struggles, saying “a fresh set of eyes” could be beneficial.

After the Bombers unexpectedly made a top-eight appearance in a bright 2021 season, Ben Rutten‘s side has fallen flat on its face to start 2022, winning just one of the first seven matches.

The team’s struggles have resulted in calls for a review into its football department, which would be its third in the space of six years.

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Lloyd said while previous reviews, including the most recent one at the end of 2020 were internal, this time Essendon must look outside the club for answers.

“If it does get to that (requiring a review), I think there should be outsiders involved at Essendon just to get a fresh set of eyes,” he told Nine’s Footy Classified.

“The next month (they’ve got) Hawthorn, a team around them, the Swans at the SCG, Tigers on Dreamtime and Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.

“I think the mid-season mark will be the time to assess whether the club does need another review, which you’d hate to see as it’s the third one in the space of six years.”

Essendon’s game style has looked a far cry from the aggressive, fast-paced offence from 2021, with the team stagnant in its ball movement and left unable to score themselves, while leaking mammoth scores week after week.

Lloyd is concerned by reports suggesting some players have been left confused about what their respective roles should be.

“It’s hard enough winning games at the best of times but you all have to be aligned,” he said, regarding leaks from the playing group.

“Yes, you’re going to have some rocky patches, but the moment players start questioning and doubting things you’re in a lot of trouble.

“That’s where the strong leadership needs to come, from the CEO all the way down to the coach and the captain, because once people start fraying and doubting and talking outside of club circles you’re in trouble.”

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Lloyd’s view was backed up by veteran AFL columnist Caroline Wilson, who called the entire situation “very concerning”.

“When you talk to people inside at Essendon … it’s clearly not a happy place at the moment,” she told Footy Classified.

“There’s a lot of meetings, a lot of people trying to work themselves out of the problems that are there. It’s very reminiscent to me of Richmond in 2016 and Melbourne in 2019.”

Asked whether Rutten could admit that his game style needed tweaking, ex-AFL coach Ross Lyon suggested that clarity could help the situation.

“You need to be able to identify it, acknowledge it, and the players like that, but you need to fix the problem if you’ve got the capabilities to do so,” he told Footy Classified.

“The best thing he can do is work on the morale and the dynamic of the group and give them some solutions. Football is about solutions and their football is horrendous at the moment.

“I guarantee you this (style of play) has been happening on the track. What you seeing here would’ve occurred over the pre-season and is occurring on the training track, because how you train is how you play.

“At some level, that’s being allowed to happen during the week and in the pre-season.”

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