Essendon aim high after horror 2013
Essendon's 1965 premiership captain Ken Fraser, current captain Jobe Watson and senior coach Mark Thompson pose for photos during a Bombers AFL media session at True Vaule Solar Centre today. Pic: Getty Images

Stand-in Essendon coach Mark Thompson has pledged to take good care of James Hird's team before handing the reins back to his former premiership teammate at the end of the 2014 AFL season.

The club launched their membership campaign on Wednesday, which also marked the one-year anniversary of the announcement that the Bombers were being investigated by the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for their controversial supplements program.

The ASADA investigation is ongoing, meaning infraction notices could still be issued against individual Essendon players, in addition to the wide-ranging AFL sanctions which included a one-year suspension for Hird, expulsion from the 2013 finals series, a $2 million fine and draft penalties.

Thompson said it was vitally important for the club to move on.

"It was - and we have," he said.

"... we don't talk about it much and there's no need to.

"If something happens then we'll deal with those circumstances.

"We can't afford to look backwards.

"We're purely just looking at today, at tomorrow, at this season."

The Bombers start 2014 with a new coach, a new football manager and a new chief executive.

Thompson is only back in the head coaching caper for a year while Hird serves the 12-month AFL ban - a situation which suits the two-time Geelong premiership mentor just fine.

"We (Thompson and Hird) have spoken, just not that often," he said.

"We don't want to cause any problems there at all.

"He knows that I'll take care of his team."

Given the battering the club took in the public arena last year, Thompson accepted he may have to take on more of a spruiking role at Essendon than he did at Geelong.

"If that's what it takes, then that's what it takes," he said.

"I think we've openly said that we need supporters and we're going to stay as close to them as we possibly can, to listen.

"We'll invite them into the club and we'll spend time with them."

Thompson has been impressed with what he has seen on the training track from a team widely expected to return to finals action in 2014.

"We want to play the best footy we can play," he said.

"If we transfer the training form into games and we do it week after week, it's a special effort and will take a lot of work, but their training form has been sensational so I can say we have improved from last year."

Essendon's opening NAB Challenge match is against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on February 17.

The West Australian

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