THERE was a sense of nostalgia from the self-proclaimed former “Carlton nuffie”, but there was one overriding emotion for new AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss: gratitude.
Arriving at IKON Park on Thursday morning without a clear picture of what the day would look like, Voss was informed he had received the nod, and was in the Navy Blue of his childhood club not long after.
More will be found out about Voss in due course: when his feet are well and truly under the desk, when players return, when pre-season resumes.
However, there was still plenty to unpack at the new coach’s home today, both in regards to Voss the coach and Voss the person.
From a holistic point of view, what’s his football philosophy?
It’s clear it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach from the former Brisbane Lions champion, who arrives on Royal Parade after an extensive run at Alberton.
These six key pillars provide an insight into how Voss is going to approach his second chance at the senior coaching role.
Connection and care
“It’s critical. It’s a key part of your leadership,” he said.
“When we talk about connection and care, it’s about being able to take a deeper dive and get to know people — what makes them tick, how it motivates them, the things that are holding them back.
“It’s so important to be able to try and take that dive to get to know them, because it’s in that space where you get to learn what the right way is to go about it. Whether they need a pat on the back, or whether they need a kick up the bum with some really direct feedback.
“If you invest in the person, I feel like they’ll always respond to you because they know you’re coming from the right place.”
The fundamentals of football
“If I had one word in mind, I’d say we want to play a ‘powerful’ brand,” he said.
“Powerful isn’t just about how we move the ball, but the other parts of the game as well which we maybe don’t enjoy as much.
“To me, the contest is absolutely critical. Year on year on year, when you play finals, it comes back to that fundamental thing of not only how you survive in the contest, but the outnumbering and shape you put around it has to stand up in the biggest moments.
“The core pillar that we’re going to have to have all 18 men defend together. If we get that complete buy-in, it gives us a chance to hit the scoreboard at the right times and put pressure on the opposition.”
“That’s the responsibility we have, and the work we’re going to have to do.”
“I love to compete. As much as I hate losing, I love winning,” Voss said.
“I love the ride that goes with it. It’s the environment that challenges you every single day. High performance sits on a real knife’s edge, and it can fall one way or the other.
“I really enjoy the creativity behind that. When you can get a group of people all on the same page and they get the result, it’s so rewarding.
“Leigh Matthews has been a great mentor to me for a long period of time. He described it as being like a hole in your stomach, and you can never fill it up.
“You’re always looking to try and fill that hole with the competitiveness that you have.”
The great joy of coaching
“I’ll tell you where the magic moments lie — it’s when Ollie Wines stands up and he’s a Brownlow Medallist,” he said.
“It’s an extremely proud moment when you’ve had something to do with them. The big wins are there for everyone to see, but I find the difference with coaching is those small moments which you can value in a player’s journey.
“Those breakthrough moments when players are struggling and they can’t quite get it, but then they get their ‘ah-huh’ moment and they finally get it: when they’ve been working on their game, and they get the reward for it.
“I get as much joy out of Travis Boak with the Jim Stynes Award, and seeing them develop as people.”
The collective over the individual
“Individual brilliance will help win us games, but it’s going to be the collective that gets us over the line more consistently,” he said.
“The way forward has to be a collective movement. Therein lies the challenge.
“There’s a lens on everything. That’s our dance floor, that’s our theatre, that’s where we go out and perform: it’s so important that we stay connected.
“Being able to go out there and play as a united team is absolutely paramount.”
Hope breeding belief
“It should give a lot of hope. We understand that that hope may take a bit of time to build the energy and shift the energy,” he said.
“We’ve got to go about earning that right. I really hope that the hope turns to belief really quickly and confidence in what the group can do.
“We’re here to make some inroads into next seasons. There’ll be a win-loss ledger that we’re there to try and meet, but at the same time, our responsibility his to go even deeper than that.
“We’ve got to create something that’s very sustainable, that we can put out there that has a long-lasting effect. If we’re able to do that with the playing group, I know they’ll get the rewards they deserve.
"I'm sure we're going to be on a really special journey."— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) September 23, 2021
A special message from new AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss to our loyal Bluebaggers. ?? pic.twitter.com/Pujtpb5bbm