With a hefty sigh, Mark Thompson offers up his best explanation of Essendon’s coaching future.
“He’s coming back. That was the plan. Until it changes, we can’t do anything else,” said Thompson on Tuesday.
“He”, of course, is James Hird, the Bombers’ suspended coach and the subject of a pivotal club board meeting on Wednesday.
One possibility is the club redrawing its coaching plan, which could end Hird’s hopes of returning for 2015 and 2016 as contracted.
Another is holding off a final decision and waiting for the results of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into the club’s 2012 supplements program.
While Thompson insisted he wasn’t involved in the board machinations, he didn’t answer directly whether he’d been approached to stay on in the head coaching job beyond this season.
“I wouldn’t expect the club to ask and I wouldn’t change my answer. I’m coaching for the year and that’s it,” he said.
The speculation is hardly the best way to build up to Friday night’s clash with arch-rivals Hawthorn.
But then again, Tania Hird’s explosive interview on the eve of their season opener against the Kangaroos didn’t seem to hurt the team, even though it angered the club’s administration and was the catalyst for Wednesday’s board meeting.
The Bombers impressed in a 39-point win over North Melbourne and Thompson said he didn’t think the omnipresent discussion of Hird’s coaching future would have an impact on the team.
“The best way to play good footy is to concentrate on good footy,” he said.
“It’s not my issue, it’s the club’s issue… (and) I’m happy for that and the players are happy because we can concentrate on footy.”
Thompson hopes that doesn’t extend to on-field fisticuffs on Friday despite Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson’s talk of the boxing gloves being on at Essendon.
“We don’t want to start a big fight, a massive brawl like the 1985 Grand Final,” he said in reference to the Bombers’ 13-goal flag win over the Hawks.
For the first time in early a decade, Lance Franklin won’t be in the Hawthorn line-up to face Essendon – much to Thompson’s relief.
Franklin usually saved his best for the Bombers – averaging five goals a game and putting a few on the highlights reel along the way.
“I think a few people used to have nightmares when they were lining up against Buddy when he played Essendon because he always kicked goals.
“We go into the game with a better mindset, it’s an advantage for us.”