MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 23: John Worsfold, Senior Coach of the Bombers looks dejected after a loss during the 2019 AFL round 23 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Essendon Bombers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 23, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

West Coast Eagles great Glen Jakovich believes internal issues within Essendon may have been the stem of why several key players departed Tullamarine at the end of the 2020 season, per SEN.

John Worsfold handed over the keys to Ben Rutten ahead of the 2021 season as part of the club’s succession plan, with Jakovich believing two of Essendon’s three biggest departures would still be with the Bombers had Worsfold stayed on.

Joe Daniher, Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia all requested moves away from the Bombers during the off-season and Jakovich stands to believe both Essendon players and board members aren’t placed on the same wavelength.

“I just feel the off-field issues continue to linger on, they’re not on the same page from board to admin to players,” Jakovich told Sportsday WA.

“I do know that three of those players that left, two of them would have stayed if John Worsfold was still coach.

“I was told that individually, not by John, but by someone in Melbourne.

“I had a bit to do with two of them in the national academy program.

“A Daniher does not leave Essendon, why did he leave? Maybe one day we’ll find out. You don’t lose three A-graders like that.”

Essendon ended their 2020 campaign with six wins from 17 matches, placing them 13th for their efforts.

While members within the club and fans alike both demand the club to be reaching the top eight most seasons, Jakovich believes the Bombers have a long way to go to make September football.

“Something is amiss and it’s internally. From my intel over in Melbourne, there seems to be a lot of Essendon people that demand they play finals every year, but they don’t understand it’s a national competition,” he said.

“They’ve been building this list with no finals experiences or performances, so I think what makes them great off-field, their great histories and traditions, is their Achilles heel right now.

“Until they understand that and the AFL system, then I see them missing the eight again this year because there’s so many off-field issues regarding their administration, their board, their members are frustrated and that pressure hampered John Worsfold last year, you could see that.

“I went through their list last night and I’m just amazed this side has not played regular finals over the last couple of years.

“Their senior players are really strong, they have been struggling with a few injuries.

“Three A-graders left the club and I think what makes Essendon so great is their biggest downfall. They’ve got a big history and a lot of tradition and I think they rely too much on that.

“They haven’t won a final since 2003 … they need to get their off-field issues in order and I’m not talking about what happened in the past, I don’t even want to bring it up what happened in 2012, but I just feel the place is unsettled.

“It needs the players now to step up and perform in their own environment. There’s a lot of pressure on them.

“They’ve got a great list here that I think can play finals football, but they keep missing out.”

Essendon are set to face Hawthorn to open their account for the 2021 season, hosting the Hawks at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, March 20.