Tough on the outer: Malthouse

Life after Collingwood has been 'very difficult', Mick Malthouse reveals in an exclusive interview, while he says he has not ruled out the possibility of a return to coaching.

Life after Collingwood has been 'very difficult', Mick Malthouse reveals in an exclusive interview, while he says he has not ruled out the possibility of a return to coaching.

LIFE after Collingwood has been ''very difficult'', Mick Malthouse has revealed in an exclusive interview with The Age, while he says he has not ruled out the possibility of a return to coaching.

Malthouse also reopens his dispute with Collingwood president Eddie McGuire over the reasons he left the club and speaks expansively about what his life is like now he is no longer at the helm of the Magpies.

''I'd be lying if I didn't say I've found things difficult,'' he says. ''It's been very difficult, very strange.''

He rejects suggestions he was burnt out when he stepped down. ''There were pressures, but I've been through a lot worse,'' he says.

''I felt very much in control of the situation.''

This puts him at odds with comments by McGuire over events that led to Collingwood's pioneering ''Kirribilli agreement'', which was designed to allow a smooth succession for Nathan Buckley.

Malthouse concedes the landmark deal was struck at a difficult time for his family - his mother was dying and his grandson was undergoing a major operation - but he rejects McGuire's assertion that Malthouse suggested things were getting on top of him in mid-2009, calling it ''incorrect''.

When contacted by The Age, McGuire repeated his earlier claims that Malthouse ''needed a break''.

''It didn't matter how much I asked him, begged him, cajoled him to take more time off over the summer, he was still the first back at the office,'' McGuire said.

''With Mick, we didn't want him to be completely shot. We wanted him to hand the baton over at full pace. We look after individuals, but ultimately the Collingwood Football Club is the most important thing.''

He added: ''Mick always says, whenever somebody starts talking about retirement, never talk them out of it. And at that stage there were a few situations where Mick said things along the lines of 'I don't think I can go on with this' and 'It's just getting too much'.''

Malthouse flatly rejects these claims. ''No, I've never said that,'' he says. ''I'd be the first to get out if I didn't think I had the necessary energy and focus. It's a team sport, so the moment you're thinking about yourself instead of the whole, you're done.''

In the interview, which appears in full in The Melbourne Magazine tomorrow, Malthouse talks about his hard-luck childhood, as well as the pros and cons of starting a new career that includes commentary roles with Channel Seven and 3AW. ''Maybe I wake up more clear-minded, not having that ache in the pit of my stomach about who's injured, who's not, who's suspended, how the team is performing,'' he says.

Also in The Melbourne Magazine, Malthouse's wife of 37 years, Nanette, says her husband struggled in his first days away from the game (''That was his family - it was always where he belonged'') and adds she has no doubt he would rather still be coaching.

However, she notes: ''I'd got to the point where I'd had enough.''

She doesn't believe he will go back to coaching, saying: ''I might be wrong, but then I've got to decide if I'm prepared to go through with it, too, because we've always done it as a partnership, so it would be a huge decision for him to come back. I mean, who knows? But at this stage, I wouldn't think so.''

For his part, Malthouse repeats what has become a familiar refrain - ''never say never'' - and says he is used to constant speculation linking him to various clubs.

''It's the game,'' he says. ''It's never worn me out. It's not something that's going to annoy me.''

As for Buckley, Malthouse says the first-year coach has inherited a strong list and support staff. ''You might have good ideas, but to be a good coach you've got to have a good side,'' he says.

''In principle, he's got a very, very, very good football club, so he has a wonderful chance to be a good coach.''

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