Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has rejected suggestions that his club has a culture problem and hit back at critics who say he has hurt the club in the last week.
McGuire’s comments came after a tumultuous last week for the Magpies, which has seen vice-captain Steele Sidebottom handed a four-match AFL ban for breaching COVID-19 protocols while star forward Jordan De Goey was charged with sexual assault.
Having juggled various media roles along with his Collingwood presidency since 1999, McGuire was heavily criticised over the past week for his public comments regarding Sidebottom’s COVID-19 breach.
Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown was one such critic, with the triple premiership winner claiming that McGuire was “hurting” the club with his comments in the media.
“At the moment, Eddie is hurting the Collingwood Football Club, because if you’re going to win a premiership – and they’re a genuine chance of winning – you don’t want any choppy waters around,” Brown said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
However, McGuire returned serve on the Lions great, saying he had “zero understanding” of what happens at Collingwood.
“Jonathan Brown once said that we trained ‘appallingly’ as he walked past the Holden Center and looked over the fence,” he told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“He didn’t realise that it was a captain’s run and a non-compulsory (session).
“Jonathan Brown has got zero understanding of what happens in the Collingwood Football Club.”
When questioned directly by Footy Classified co-panellist Caroline Wilson on Brown’s comments, McGuire’s answer was emphatic.
“My answer is no. I don’t do anything that goes out, ever,” he said.
“I said on Tony Jones’ cross, that I was proud of the way (Sidebottom) reacted.
“That is, he took the four weeks on the chin, that he didn’t appeal and he didn’t squeal and he didn’t complain and he gave us the utmost truth, and I was proud of that, in conjunction with his unblemished career.
“I said there, we weren’t happy with what happened and of course we’re not. That seems to be pretty straight forward I would have thought.”
Despite calls for Sidebottom to be stripped of the vice-captaincy in the wake of the incident, McGuire reiterated that it would not happen, but opened up the possibility of the 29-year-old opting to relinquish the role himself.
“He’s been in isolation, no one has seen him,” he said.
“When the team goes from the other side of the continent to the other side and they all catch up, I dare say they’ll have a good conversation.”
McGuire’s defence of Collingwood’s culture was backed up by ex-Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon, who suggested that questions around culture had come about because of consecutive defeats.
“Can we actually all acknowledge the cultural shift from Mick Malthouse to Nathan Buckley and the change of players?” he said on Footy Classified.
“It’s not ideal, but Steele Sidebottom has played 250 games without an indiscretion growing up in the public (eye).
“He’s been held to account, but to then want to strip him of the vice-captaincy, I was strong last week that it shouldn’t happen.
“We’re in 2020, but the (De Goey and Sidebottom) incidents are put together as a lack of discipline.
“You’ve got 42 18-32 year olds growing up on your list.
“They’re growing up in the public eye, (they deal with) all the challenges, but it all gets strung together very quickly and linked to losing.”