Barker favourite after Eade sacked as Suns coach
CARLTON assistant coach John Barker has been installed as the hot favourite to replace axed Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade in 2018.
Barker, an assistant with the Blues for the last seven years, acted as the club's caretaker coach following the sacking of Mick Malthouse for 14 games in 2015.
He was subsequently short-listed for the permanent position at season's end following an impressive job at the helm, but was narrowly edged out by Brendon Bolton.
He remained at the club as an assistant coach and recently agreed to extend his contract with the Blues for a further two seasons.
However, it's unlikely Carlton will stand in his way should he be offered a senior position elsewhere.
Barker told News Regional in April that "I'm obviously fully committed to the Carlton football club, and really keen to be a part of their progression. I want to be as big a part of their improvement as possible.
"(But) if the right opportunities present then no doubt I'd be keen to be a senior coach at some stage."
Barker, a former Fitzroy, Brisbane Lions and Hawthorn player, was also in the running for the Lions job last season before the club settled on Chris Fagan.
While still contracted to North Melbourne, Brad Scott is another who has been linked to the role at the Suns.
The Brisbane premiership player took the Roos to two preliminary finals after undergoing a rebuild in 2017.
Suns chief executive Mark Evans was yesterday adament he had not spoken to any potential coaching candidates to replace Eade.
Evans said the decision that Eade would not be offered a new contract for next year was only reached on Monday night and was based purely on wins and losses and not influenced by potentially available candidates.
Eade oversaw just 16 wins and a draw from 63 matches in charge.
Evans said assistant coach Dean Solomon had accepted the role as interim coach for the remaining three weeks but had been given no assurances he would receive the top job next year.
He predicted the search for the new coach would not begin until the end of the season. "I'm very clear that first things are first, the first decision was Rodney be extended or not extended," Evans said.
"And you don't go hunting and making calls to dozens of coaches to see if they are interested until you get past the first bit."
Suns chairman Tony Cochrane said the board could not tolerate another failed season when expectations were so high.
He gave a damning assessment of the club's progress saying they had not advanced from where they sat at the end of 2014 when inaugural coach Guy McKenna was sacked.
"It is a simple as wins and losses," he said.
"At the end of the day, I'm on the record that at the start of this year we had a very strong belief we would challenge for the top eight and we simply have failed.
"We are simply in the same position, if we are being honest, that we were three years ago and that is not good enough for our board."