Collingwood will be on a mission to make the finals next season. Graeme Allan has been suspended for a year over his role in the Lachie Whitfield drugs case. Photo: AFL Media/Getty Images
Michael Christian playing for the Pies in 1990. Photo: Wayne Ludbey
Former Collingwood premiership star Michael Christian is in the running to replace Graeme ‘Gubby’ Allan as the Pies’ new football-department manager.
It’s understood Christian will be interviewed by the Pies next week, as they seek their fourth football manager in recent years.
Allan was suspended for a year by the AFL this week after pleading guilty and accepting a ban for his role in the Lachie Whitfield drugs case. Allan subsequently quit the club. He apologised for his error of judgment in handling the Greater Western Sydney player who went to stay at the home of welfare manager Craig Lambert to avoid drug testers in May 2015.
The Pies have appointed Marcus Wagner as interim football boss until a permanent replacement can be found, most likely by the end of the year.
Christian, 52, has forged a strong media career in recent years, calling AFL matches on radio and television and, until last month, had been host of Radio Sport National’s breakfast show with fellow former Magpie, Mick McGuane.
He also has worked as an online host for the Pies’ website and been football operations boss at St Kevins Old Boys Football Club.
Christian played 131 matches for the Pies between 1987 and 1995, and the defender’s spot in club history was confirmed when he was part of the breakthrough 1990 premiership.
He also played alongside coach Nathan Buckley for a couple of seasons which could help in his bid to claim the key job.
Buckley will need strong support next season as he fights to save his career after again failing to make the finals this year. The role of football-department chief has been somewhat of a revolving door in recent years, with Buckley having Geoff Walsh, then Rodney Eade and Neil Balme by his side.
Balme was essentially demoted in September, with Allan stepping up from his role as head of the club’s new netball team. Allan had previously been football boss at the Pies when Leigh Matthews was coach, and joined him at Brisbane, before heading up GWS.
Pies president Eddie McGuire said this week Allan’s ban and the need to appoint a new football-department chief would not detrimentally impact on the club.
“It [Allan’s suspension] came from left-field, who knows what happens in life in those situations. But we’ve got contingency plans. Marcus Wagner is more than ready to step into the position there and we will make a decision on whether or not we will make an appointment in the next couple of weeks,” he said on Triple M.
“Marcus Wagner has worked for our club and looked after all our football operations and he is an up and coming star.
“I would rather that Gubby is there because we appointed him, because in the time that he has been director of football at Collingwood, he has been fantastic. That is nothing against Neil Balme. I wanted Neil Balme. I, me, club, board, chief executive wanted Neil Balme to go into a specific role that we believe he was absolutely tailor-made for and we wanted to broaden a role in the football department into other areas. All the people lined up, it was as simple as that.”
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