Nathan Buckley admits Collingwood’s AFL season has fallen short of his and the club’s expectations.
Barring a monumental meltdown by the three teams ahead of the 11th-placed Pies, they’ll be spectators this September which Buckley concedes isn’t a situation he expected to be in.
“Our aim going into the season was to play a final and to win a final and, unless things go all our way in the last three weeks, we’re going to fall short of that,” Buckley said on Wednesday.
“So the board, the coaches and the players will feel like we’ve fallen short of where we set ourselves for this year.
“There’s no hiding from that and we’re disappointed in the position we find ourselves in.”
But even with finals off the agenda, Buckley won’t take the opportunity to give some games to younger players with an eye on the future.
“We’ll be picking a side that we think is best placed to win a game of footy and there will be elements of what the future looks like for us and our fans in that 22,” he said.
“We still want to pick our best. We believe we’ve done that largely along the journey and the young players have earnt their opportunities.
“Whilst we’re really keen on finding new talent and providing some freshness in the team, it hasn’t been manufactured – every young player who has come in has earnt his spot.”
Collingwood face finals-bound Richmond on Saturday, with Buckley impressed with the season that the Tigers have been able to put together.
While disappointed with how his own side’s campaign has panned out, he maintains significant strides have been made.
“Against most of the top six, we’ve either led or been within a goal halfway through the last quarter of our games,” he said.
“So that would suggest that the balance of what we’re doing is heading in the right direction but we need to find that last three or four per cent that gets us over the line.”
Buckley was joined by club president Eddie McGuire to announce that the club’s headquarters had been renamed the Holden Centre in a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal.