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Melbourne Football Club

Watts departure best for all: Jackson

Peter Jackson speaks on SEN Peter Jackson spoke to the SEN team this morning regarding all things Melbourne
The people that have been emotional [about Watts leaving] have been very emotional about it. But I’ve seen the words inundated – we haven’t been inundated [with criticism] at all
Peter Jackson

MELBOURNE chief executive Peter Jackson says the club has secured exciting young talent in recent times by making hard list management decisions, such as the recent parting with popular Demon Jack Watts.

Speaking on 1116 SEN on Tuesday morning, Jackson said the trading of Watts to Port Adelaide was ultimately in the best interests of all parties.  

“The people that have been emotional [about Watts leaving] have been very emotional about it. But I’ve seen the words inundated – we haven’t been inundated [with criticism] at all,” he said.

“You monitor these things and when it was first mooted that he might be traded, there were about 350 to 400 people who called or wrote in or emailed. Afterwards, [when he had been traded], there was a similar number and some of those were the same people – that’s not a hell of a lot.

“I think a lot of people see where we’ve been as a footy club and since that time since 2013, there has been about 40 players turn over and if you take in the end of 2012, then there has probably been 50 turn over. We’ve really turned this list over.”

Jackson highlighted a host of youngsters who had arrived at the club in recent times, who would form the nucleus of the team’s future.

“The most important thing is what you come out of it … and there are young kids aged between 20 and 22 – [Clayton] Oliver, [Christian] Petracca, [Christian] Salem, [Sam] Weideman, [Jayden] Hunt, [James] Harmes, [Angus] Brayshaw and Oscar McDonald coming through and we’ve just added Jake Lever and he’s 21 years old. And then we’ve got the old man, Jack Viney, who is 23. That’s an outstanding young list of talent. You put on that a few other established players in [Nathan] Jones and Tommy McDonald … and I think we’ve turned it over and we’ve come out and got a very, very talented list,” he said.

“I think what the most important thing is now is that we continue to build the environment. We got Roosy (Paul Roos) in and then Simon [Goodwin] to follow on and the whole thing is about creating the environment for the club – the standards, behaviours and culture. So, that these young kids get a good chance and want to do their very best. They need role models around them who see footy as not just as a place to go to have a kick with your mates, but actually get the very best out of them, because at the end of the day that's what Melbourne supporters demand.

“Melbourne’s been awful for so long – people want success and sometimes they’ve forgotten what it means to get that success.”

Jackson said Watts was "a great guy" but not “a ruthless guy”.

“He’s not a ruthless person when he plays football. He’s a great guy, absolutely, there is no doubt about that. Everyone loves him – we all love him as a guy,” he said. 

“He’s had unbelievable pressure put on him since he’s been at the Melbourne footy club. People would say he’s dealt with that. He may have dealt with it.

“It’s a bit like some players have left Melbourne to go to Sydney to get away from it all. I think there is a strong argument that Jack will be better off if he’s in another place where he’s not Jack Watts at the Melbourne Football Club.

“He’s just another player and I’ve heard him say at times ‘I just wish I was pick No.48 sometimes’. I think that’s the calibre of player he’s been. He hasn’t been that No.1 draft pick. His performance and stats don’t indicate that he was a No.1 draft pick. If it was – there wouldn’t be that pressure on him.”

Jackson said he had no issue with Watts being traded for selection No.31 or that Melbourne was still paying “about 15 per cent” of his contract for 2018-19.

“It’s not as if you’re paying half of his salary to move him on – that’s not happening,” he said.

“It had nothing to do with the Jake Lever deal – we could’ve stood in the TPP (Total Player Payments) next year with both guys at the club.

“When you talk about market value – there are two things to look at, the stats, performance over nine years and the best and fairest [results] and where he finished. You can’t actually say ‘he’s a first round draft pick anymore’ – it doesn’t measure up.

“The second thing that creates the value is ‘what are people prepared to offer you?’ The only football club that actually spoke to us about a deal at any real terms was Port Adelaide.

“Geelong made an enquiry, but they didn’t take it any further and the offer, as I understand it, and they were mooting – we would’ve been crucified by Melbourne supporters, if we had have accepted that.

“There was one club making one offer at the end of the day and I think that does say something.”

Jackson said it always a tough situation when long-serving players such as Watts left the club.

“These things get messy outwardly and inevitably they get out in the public space and they get talked about and petrol gets thrown on fires, so you get yourself into that circular discussion all of the time,” he said.

“People get emotional about what they’re listening to, but I think internally, it’s OK.

“I’m going to catch up with Jack when he gets back from overseas. I don’t think there is going to be any animosity about all of this. We’ve talked to each other when he was leaving and we’ll catch up and have a cup of coffee … and it’ll be good.

“He’ll always be a Melbourne person and I have no doubt he’ll come back to Melbourne and be part of the Melbourne footy club.”

Jackson said when he arrived at the club in May 2013, he came at a time when Melbourne was at its “lowest base possible”.

“People forget in 2013, we won two games and there were some horrible things going on in 2012 and early that year [in 2013] – getting beaten by 150-plus points,” he said.

“It was a very, very low base that we started from, so it was going to take a while.”