Written by AFL Online on 25th Jul 2007
Denis Pagan is now a shepherd without a flock. It is surely an unfamiliar situation for the two-time Premiership coach who has been steering football clubs at the highest level since taking over from Wayne Schimmelbusch in 1993. They say certain events occur in threes, and it appears Paganâ€™s exit from Carlton is the conclusion to the trio. However, Paganâ€™s scenario is considerably different to that of Chris Connolly departing Fremantle and Neale Daniher moving on from Melbourne. Denis Pagan is leaving his most recent club without experiencing any real success.
Chris Connolly took the Dockers to AFL heights never experienced by the young football club and Neale Daniher took the Demons to the 2000 Grand Final and to a total of six AFL Finals Series in his nine years at the helm. At Carlton, Pagan didnâ€™t even get close. During his five seasons, Paganâ€™s side has failed to finish higher than 11th, collecting two unsightly wooden spoons along the way. Regardless, if Sheedyâ€™s remarkable reign at the Bombers is no more for season 2008 then as an Essendon fan with a choice of the three I would still rather Pagan to Daniher, and Daniher over Connolly.
When we think of Paganâ€™s tenure at the Blues the greatest highlight to be recalled is that of a relatively insignificant pre-season Premiership. Admittedly the lack of accomplishment is strongly associated with the dispossessed playing list. Nevertheless, it is uncharacteristic for a man who won five Under 19s Flags at North Melbourne and another with Essendonâ€™s Reserves, before the ultimate in 1996 and 1999. His career victory rate as an AFL coach is currently 51%, when at Arden Street he got the Kangas over the line 62% of the time, and at Carlton his winning record stands at a mere 24%.
Even if we gaze beyond the recent plight of the club that now calls their home MC Labour Park, the Blues must have felt as though they were not getting value for their invested money. Despite the praiseworthy work Pagan conducted with marquee players such as Fevola and Whitnall, he would often come under fire for a proposed lack of ability to develop younger talent. Preposterous! See above – the guy coached five Under 19s Premierships. Not to mention his role in igniting the careers of (then) youngsters Peter Bell, Adam Simpson, Matthew Capuano, Scott Welsh and Brent Harvey by leading them to the competitionâ€™s definitive accolade twice in four seasons.
There is an undeniable bright side to the dismissal from Paganâ€™s perspective, he did sign a contract until the end of the 2008 season and will, therefore, essentially receive the total sum of the lucrative agreement. He can ponder his options over a nice glass of chardonnay with his wife as he follows the fortunes of his beloved thoroughbreds if he so decides. Michael Voss, or whoever else the next Bluesâ€™ coach may be, will probably arrive with a cheaper price tag, but for good reason. Pagan is a winner, but just as would have been the case with anyone else from 2003 to 2007, not at Carlton.