The dimming of expectations that Melbourne would confirm Paul Roos as its new coach at its best-and-fairest awards has proved justified, with the club confirming on Thursday night the issue was off the night's agenda.
New Melbourne president Glen Bartlett told the 800-strong function at Crown Palladium the purpose of the awards night was to put "a full stop on the 2013 season" and focus on 2014 and beyond, and as such he would not be delivering any news on who would be next coaching the Demons.
"There is no announcement to be made tonight, it's not appropriate. It's about respecting and reflecting . . . and acknowledging the work that has gone into season 2013," Bartlett said.
"What I will tell you about 2014 is clearly we have a lot of work to do as a club. Creating the right football structure is paramount, and ensuring a best-practice governance model is highly important."
Bartlett, whose club finished only above Greater Western Sydney this season, said "winning back respect for the club, on and off the field, is paramount". He said he was eager for the much-publicised extensive restructure of the club to be completed, so issues of governance and administration can "sit quietly in the background, leaving football to tell our story".
Bartlett's effusive praise of Neil Craig, who filled in as senior coach after the mid-season sacking of Mark Neeld, was echoed by chief executive Peter Jackson.
Jackson praised Craig's professionalism and integrity and his decision - quoting Craig's own immediate response when asked to coach the Demons after Neeld's departure - to go "balls and all" into it. While not mentioning Roos by name he said Craig deserved plaudits for remaining stoic after Roos confirmed his interest in taking the coaching job last Friday, two days before the Demons' season-ending game against Western Bulldogs.
"You've earned the respect of those who worked closely with you, and in the past week or so the media hysteria could've been difficult for you, but you handled yourself with dignity and respect, as you always do, and put the players and the club first on Sunday to your great credit . . . thank you on behalf of everyone at the club," Jackson said of Craig, who has been linked to the Brisbane Lions.
Jackson also referred to casualties of the Demons' off-field restructure he had initiated since his appointment in April, admitting many "good people" had already departed the club and that others would be joining them before the end of the year.
"It's unfortunate because, in many cases, it's due to factors beyond their control and is not related necessarily to their performance," he said.
While Jackson lamented he had not seen "the wins I wanted" he said he had seen small examples of the Demons earning respect from opponents this season. He reckoned many players had collectively decided they "just don't want to be second-rate anymore", and had begun acting accordingly.
"We're at a fork in the road . . . now we go down the right path towards success. I'm not sure how long it will take, I know it's not an overnight journey - but it is a journey we start now."