Bolton gone, but Silvagni escapes the spotlight

Quite rightfully, after such a barren run that no coach can ultimately survive, Carlton finally put Brendon Bolton out of his misery on Monday.

In such a results-driven business and with Carlton being a famously impatient club -- despite ongoing pleas for calm during this full rebuild -- the Blues finally swung the axe on Bolton after just 16 wins in 77 games.

It is probably the right call. But as Bolton licks his wounds, another senior figure who played a key role in the current debacle at Princes Park has somehow escaped the spotlight.

Stephen Silvagni, a Carlton life member and fan favourite after a sterling 312-game career in the famous navy blue, returned to the Blues from GWS as list manager in 2015. He worked arm-in-arm with Bolton as they set about trying to rebuild their club from the ground up.

Silvagni and his team were given the imprimatur to cut deep and go hard at the draft, which they did with gusto. Trading away arguably their best player at the time, Bryce Gibbs, netting two first-round picks in return, proved the Blues were serious about stripping things back, and in hindsight, with Gibbs now in-and-out of the Crows team, it was the right play to make.

Other wins under Silvagni include nailing some early picks at his disposal, especially in his first year - Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow and David Cuningham in 2015 have all shown excellent signs, as has Zac Fisher (pick No. 27, 2016) and last year's No. 1 pick Sam Walsh.

But the vast majority of Silvagni's draft, trade and free agency decisions have backfired, making Bolton's job of molding an AFL-quality team like facing a heavyweight boxer with an arm tied behind your back.

Silvangni's strikerate with GWS recruits (Jed Lamb, Andrew Phillips, Lachie Plowman, Liam Sumner and delisted free agent Daniel Gorringe in 2015; Caleb Marchbank, Rhys Palmer and Jarrod Pickett in 2016; Matthew Kennedy in 2017 and Will Setterfield and Tom Bugg in 2018) has so far been appalling, as has the majority of other mature talent brought in under his watch (Sam Kerridge in 2015; Billie Smedts in 2016; Darcy Lang, Matthew Lobbe and Aaron Mullett in 2017; Mitch McGovern and Alex Fasolo in 2018).

And of course, then there's the history-making live trade from last year's draft which has the Blues' prized No. 1 pick in the hands of Adelaide (the Blues received the Crows' pick 19 which they used on Liam Stocker, who Silvagni rated as the sixth best player in last year's pool, and also have Adelaide's first-round pick to use later this year). It was a bold move and one which is still way too early to call but the emotional blow of not receiving a No. 1 draft pick despite another wooden-spoon finish could be significant.

Of course, very few clubs and list managers look good when you draft in hindsight, and some of the names mentioned above still have time to forge strong careers with the Blues. But as it stands, Silvagni's list management history at Carlton can only be considered to be chequered.

As is the way, a coach is the person held accountable when a club is mired at the bottom of the ladder -- not the list managers, fitness teams or development staff -- and Bolton was rightfully under increasing pressure as the Blues lurched from one disaster to another in his fourth season at the helm.

But as Cain Liddle indicated in his press conference on Monday afternoon every position will be under review and Silvagni will be under just as much pressure as whoever the Blues turn to as their next coach.

He must find a way to surround the Blues' handful of elite talent with more support, to ensure the next Carlton coach has a fighting chance of success.