Carlton were highly fancied during the pre-season to make the step up to playing finals in 2021. Things didn't go to plan and as a result, another coach has been sacked. Carlton's best was good, however season 2021 highlighted their inconsistent nature. They rarely put together a four-quarter performance. Rectifying this will be top of Michael Voss' to-do list ahead of a massive summer for the club.
Season Finish: 13th
Record: 8 wins, 14 losses, 88.5%
See Also: Hawthorn season review
2021 Season snapshot
After being all the rage before the season began, Carlton failed to live up to the hype. Things didn't start well and despite good wins against Essendon and St Kilda throughout the season, there wasn't much else to be excited about.
The Bombers were the only team inside the top eight that the Blues managed to beat. Expensive recruit Zac Williams was monumentally disappointing, while Mitch McGovern and Jack Martin continue to underperform commensurate to their wages. Thankfully, the Blues had a couple of shining lights despite missing the finals yet again.
Star Player: Sam Walsh
30 votes in the Brownlow is normally enough to win the award. Walsh was unlucky this year, but it's unlikely to be his last crack at it. Just 21 years of age, he has announced himself as one of the best midfielders in the competition.
Walsh played all 22 matches and averaged 30 disposals a game. More than that, he averaged 4.5 tackles, five clearances and four inside 50's a game. He was everywhere and clearly Carlton's best all season.
Capping off his incredible individual season, he won his first club best and fairest award. Having established himself as an A grade midfielder at such a young age, Walsh's potential is scary and should give Blues fans hope for the future.
Breakout Player: Harry McKay
After threatening to explode for the past few years, McKay reached elite status in season 2021. Winning the Coleman Medal with 58 goals in just 19 games, McKay found the consistency needed to reach his potential.
His power and athleticism this season was coupled with an elite work rate. As a result, the power forward got to more contests, taking more than double the marks he took in season 2020.
McKay's big season saw him also finish third in the Blues' best and fairest behind Walsh and Jacob Weitering. With Charlie Curnow's return to the side, the Blues now boast one of the most dynamic key-forward duos in the competition.
'A-graders' cement status: While some on big money at the Blues were below par, the 'A-graders' took their games to the next level. Apart from Walsh and McKay, Jacob Weitering was again exceptional in 2021.
Unlucky to miss out on All-Australian selection, he was as dependable as ever, cementing himself as one of the best key defenders in the AFL. He deservedly finished second in the club best and fairest and is tipped to be the next club captain.
Carlton's top-end talent is plainly there to see, which means adding role players to the mix should see them finally contend for finals in earnest.
Reinforcements incoming: With the higher tier talent in place and largely firing, the need to add depth became a priority. Carlton have gone about this efficiently since the end of the season.
Adding class in Adam Cerra is a great move, not only for his skill but for the depth it brings to the midfield group. The same can be said of the acquisition of George Hewett. Perhaps not as big a name as Cerra, he will nonetheless bring much-needed depth to a midfield too reliant on Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh.
Adding Lewis Young for key position depth without giving up much was also a tick.
Off-field finances: With record membership numbers and being debt-free, Carlton are in their best financial position for decades. They have found alternative sources of income and have slowly weaned themselves off the pokies.
With the Blues set for a new era, a sound financial base has now been established to build on.
Sacking another coach: At a certain point, it's not them, it's you. Carlton has to be close to considering this, given the number of coaching debacles over the past two decades.
The sacking of David Teague was another sorry chapter for this club. Perhaps not in the decision itself, but in the way the club went about it. It didn't help that certain classless people in the media were openly courting the job while he was still in it, but Carlton's silence was deafening.
With Michael Voss being given another chance at the top, only time will tell if Carlton have finally gotten things right in this department.
Failing to make finals: There's no denying that the expectation for the Blues this year was to make finals. They fell well short in the end, while just one win against a top-eight side all season is telling.
With so much expectation, not to mention the long wait between finals appearances, the Blues need to find a way to match it with the best.
Often hitting patches of form throughout the game, their big challenge will be to bring that level for the entire four quarters in season 2022.
Losing high picks: Pick 6 has been traded to Freo for Adam Cerra, which is a fair deal. However, coupled with the trade of Sam Petrevski-Seton to the Eagles for just pick 52, on paper it's two first-rounders out for one coming in.
While it's never quite that simple, the optics still aren't great.
Season Grade: D+
The Blues were heavily backed for a top-eight finish this season following an impressive off-season 12 months ago.
With David Teague out the door and Carlton longing for a return to the September action for the next season, many would see their 2021 campaign fall well below expectations.