THE AFL world is still reeling from the dramatic fall of Hawthorn.
Hawthorn sits at 0-4 after the opening month of the 2017 season, having finished in third just last season.
Consecutive 86-point defeats have shown that their time as the most successful club of the modern era is officially over.
The sharp decline has come as a surprise to many, but legendary AFL coach Mark Thompson says it would not have shocked Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson.
“I think he probably knew what was coming,” Thompson told AFL 360.
“You don’t get rid of (Jordan) Lewis and (Sam) Mitchell and offer up four of your best players, who have been absolute legends for the club, and not expect anything to come back.”
Clarkson sensationally moved on a number of players in the off-season who had played important roles in Hawthorn’s recent success.
It was a rebuilding strategy to inject youth into an ageing playing list and Clarkson traded away star veterans and draft picks for young talent like former Gold Coast Suns midfielder Jaeger O’Meara.
The poor start to 2017 is evidence enough for some that Clarkson’s plan has failed, but Thompson isn’t so sure.
“It’s a bit early to call it, because it might work,” Thompson said.
“He’ll (Clarkson) just hold his ground I’m sure. He’s a good coach.”
While Clarkson continues to face criticism for his ailing rebuilding strategy, Thompson feels the Hawks coach is unfairly copping the brunt of the attack.
The former Geelong premiership winning coach says a number of Hawthorn’s experienced players need to have a look at themselves given their performances so far in 2017.
“What’s disappointing is the middle-aged players who have the opportunity to lead this club, to continue the success of the club, and they haven’t really lifted.
“They haven’t been sighted. That’s probably what he expected to happen.”
Former Hawthorn captain Sam Mitchell will return to face his former club on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
But Thompson doesn’t expect the former skipper to hold any anger towards Clarkson for moving the veteran on in the off-season.
“I reckon it’s done out of respect and mateship, and he’s done it upfront,” Thompson said.
“(Sam) Mitchell and (Jordan) Lewis would still have great love for Hawthorn. They’ll respect what he’s done.”
SOURCE: newsnow sport