After a notably volatile off-season at Tullamarine, Essendon assistant coach Blake Caracella has openly admitted that the off-field tensions last season likely impacted the club's on-field performance.
At the 2022 season's end, Essendon underwent multiple large-scale changes and was forced to address some glaring issues at board level.
The departures of president Paul Brasher, coach Ben Rutten, and bizarrely brief CEO Andrew Thorburn only begin to show what the club was dealing with after their disappointing season, finishing 15th on the ladder with only seven wins.
When asked by AFL Nation about whether board instability impacts the playing group, Caracella said “you'd hope not but no doubt it does.”
“I've been fairly lucky as a player and a coach not to have too much instability, but there's no doubt it does trickle down through the hierarchy to the playing group," he said.
“I reckon that happened towards the second half of last year too and it does cause some trouble.
“But I think players do move on really quickly, the new coach comes in and we've been focused on this season, Round 1 since the start of pre-season, which was three months ago.
“We are playing a bit differently and looking forward to a challenge against the Hawks.”
In the build-up to their Round 1 clash against Hawthorn, Essendon was criticised for their bleak anticipation of the future, with club figures asking fans to be patient with their side in 2023.
Fans would have been pleased with their first outing under new coach Brad Scott however, as the Bombers blitzed the Hawks in a second-half onslaught, eventually running out 124-65 winners.
The win was capped off by a special set-shot goal by Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, who played his first match in 588 days and set the Essendon crowd alight with his performance as the tactical sub.
The win has the Bombers currently sitting a-top the AFL ladder, but they will face their next test this Sunday, 3:20pm in a round two clash against the Gold Coast Suns.