"The future will reveal the reality."
That's the parting message from John Worsfold amid ongoing debate amongst success-starved Bombers supporters about where the AFL club is headed.
The 51-year-old will officially hand over the coaching reins to Ben Rutten after Saturday's encounter with Melbourne and has implored "Essendon people" to back his successor.
"I believe strongly in Ben Rutten, that is why I agreed to a succession plan," Worsfold said in a prepared statement on Friday before his final pre-match press conference.
"I believe Ben has learnt and grown this year, and is now better placed to take the club forward.
"As you all get to know him, you will respect him as much as myself and the players do."
Worsfold, who took over as coach five years ago on the back of the club's supplements scandal, also expressed support for a playing group that has slid back down the ladder this season after two years in the finals.
"The Essendon playing group have been through two massive transitions in my short time at the football club," he said.
"I also believe really strongly in these young men I know so well.
"I respect there will be those who don't share my confidence.
"The future will reveal the reality, and I'm looking forward to watching that."
Despite his bullish outlook, Worsfold stopped short of predicting how long it would take for Essendon to mount their next premiership challenge.
"It's hard work to win a premiership and it doesn't happen overnight," Worsfold said.
"It will be tough and there's a lot of hard work to do but I know they're up for it."
Worsfold, a premiership coach with West Coast in 2006, has led Essendon to a 45-1-58 record in five seasons at the helm.
The record includes a three-win 2016 campaign when the Bombers were forced to field a makeshift team after the majority of their squad was sidelined by suspension.
Australian Associated Press