Essendon have hit rock bottom, but besieged coach Ben Rutten says his team will be better for the experience.
The Bombers (3-11) slumped to their 11th AFL loss of the season on Friday night when they suffered a shock 10-point defeat to West Coast at Optus Stadium.
The Eagles entered the match on a nine-match losing streak and with a percentage of 52.2, but a five-goal haul to Josh Kennedy lifted them to the 16.11 (107) to 14.13 (97) win.
Rutten is contracted until the end of 2023, but he is a man under pressure following Essendon's dismal season.
Bombers fans are set to turn up the blowtorch following the loss to West Coast, but Rutten is confident of leading the turnaround.
"We're clear as a club where we are at and where we are going, the path we are on," Rutten said.
"We're making progress in some areas. The journey is not a linear line, where we get better because we train hard ... 17 teams are doing the same.
"(We need to) stick to the plan. These are experiences that our group needs to go through and we'll be better for it."
Rutten said Darcy Parish (calf) would be available for next Saturday's clash with Sydney at the SCG, but Andrew McGrath (adductor) will miss at least another week.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson said it was a relief to end West Coast's club-record losing streak.
The recent return of stars such as Willie Rioli, Liam Ryan, and Elliot Yeo have helped West Coast become a more competitive unit over the past fortnight, but Simpson knows there might be more tough days ahead.
"Next week is a massive challenge. We've got the Tigers in Melbourne," Simpson said.
"What did they beat us by - (109) points the last time we played?
"We're under no illusions that is not just a straight line trajectory from here on. It's going to be a battle for us, but we're seeing better signs."
West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui, who injured his knee in the round-four win over Collingwood, will make his return in the WAFL on Saturday.
If Naitanui makes it through that unscathed, he is set to be unleashed against Richmond at the MCG next week.
"I reckon he'll probably play a half (in the WAFL)," Simpson said.
"We'll build him the best way we can."
Australian Associated Press
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