How much longer can the Denis Pagan amnesty
last? It’s been over three years and for any coach to escape critical
examination for that long in footy-mad Melbourne is
unprecedented.

Is this restraint by media and fans
justified? Perhaps for the first couple of years. Pagan inherited an aging list
which had won just three games the previous season, and in his second year he
bore the full brunt of the punishment meted out by the AFL for the crimes of
John Elliott’s administration.

But surely his credit has run out. Or has
Pagan cleverly and deliberately manipulated coverage of his team’s continued
slump to buttress his own position?

When he arrived at Carlton at the end
of 2002 Pagan had a win-loss ratio of 63 per cent, an impressive stat when
compared even to the very best. 72 games later, he’s
recorded only 19 wins, a 26 per cent win rate with the Blues.

From the outset Pagan has managed expectations.
When Carlton won 10 games in 2004 (more than double the previous season) he was
cautiously optimistic. When they won 4 last year (after winning the pre-season
comp) he talked again about having lost draft picks.
He talked about being patient.

Supporters are now
openly questioning the man who arrived with a reputation of being tough and
straightforward. The man who could have been hoped, at the very least, to make
the players accountable.

Pagan has overseen this
group for almost four years, and should have put his stamp on them by now. If
there’s two things a coach SHOULD be held accountable for, it’s attitude and
application, and last Sunday against Collingwood those skills were as much in
short supply as effective, or even acceptable, disposal by hand or foot.

Denis Pagan has proved, with his sustained
success at the Kangaroos, that he can coach a good footy team. It’s time for
those in the media (especially ex-Carlton great and outspoken commentator
Robert Walls, who has taken just about every other coach/player/team to task)
to ask, why is Pagan still in the job?

Peter Fray

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