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A few things have been bugging me this season, don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed the march back to relevance - but there have been some odd missteps and frustrating emanations from the club that won't be solved by Jack Watts being traded... We all have a list of areas that go to explain why we didn't kick to extra goals over the course of the season - that is code for 'missing the finals'... My main ones are: Injuries and fluctuating form of our best 6-8 players (Jones, Gawn, Hogan, Oliver, Viney, Hibberd, Petracca, and T McDonald). The vacuum of leadership at the club The disappointing performance of the coaching staff These latter two bring into focus our fledgling coach Simon Goodwin. Coaching Performance: Tricks, a motivated group, but naivete abounds There is no doubt that he has motivated the core group of players to play a certain way; they play on with abandon, they handpass in tight spaces and trust 'the next man' to not fumble and to 'do their job.' However, this is overbalanced still and we didn't show much progress from the middle of the year to the end of the year in kicking when we were in position to. Sometimes, our forward line was not in position to make the most of a player quickly released by a chain of fantastic handballs; the player would look up and see player hurriedly running back into guarded space and/or expecting a kick so precise only 3 players on our list could hit the target. His 'trick bag' is innovative; the forwards coming off the back of the square threw teams for a loop and I look forward to more innovation and not resting on that move now that the competition has worked it out. This leads me to the forward line - it is schizophrenic - and I appreciate Goodwins ability to make changes at will if something isn't working, I felt like we had so many changes and different structures going forward that we ended up the season with nothing working. Hogan missing isn't an excuse for changing the structure. It's an excuse for that structure to work less efficiently. We would sometimes have a deep presence with smalls beside the tall, and when that didn't work we went 'fwd line is lava no one in the fwd line' with players running back into there. And there were a few setups in between there and while that is unpredictable to the oppo, it is also unpredictable to Tysons left foot... Then there were the two weeks we spent getting beaten by wind... I didn't see much of the NM game in Hobart but I saw the GWS massacre in all its gore. I wrote about it at the time - but the wind at Manuka always goes to the Kingston side pocket and that playing a man behind the football is a fact of life against a good team (the GWS respected us enough to have one in the 2nd term when they were 36 points up...), and yet we threw away our surprise 3 goal start by not only leaving our backs exposed for much of the quarter, but also by playing up the grandstand side of the ground for reasons that are yet to resonate with me. When you go up the grandstand side at Manuka, the wind is a propellant for the opposition to go through the middle of the ground and carve you up. Naivete or arrogance? I don't really care. It was the difference between being in the game and being out of it by quarter time. We had reports of similar play against NM the week before. If a team could drop a coach - those two weeks would seen Goodwin have a stint with Casey... The Vacuum of Goodwin Then there are the more complicated aspects to his persona that I wish he would address, I know he doesn't flame any bad narratives when he speaks - he hardly says anything when he speaks - but he would do well to understand that he can alter narratives for the better that might alleviate public (even if only Dees fans) pressure from certain players (Watts and Oliver come to mind, and of course Watts), prompt responses from those that should shoulder more burden than they do (outside of Watts and Tyson who is to blame for being 9th again?), and, lastly, shore up his own position and leadership (no one is that wooden, and no one that wooden leads anything for very long). Without this - we have a vacuum - Roos filled it quite easily. He would push narratives and could seem self-serving and distracting. And sometimes, that is the point; when talked about the scars and burdens of the past ad nauseum we felt like he was giving the club a continued excuse, but as he outlines in his new book - he was trying to push a creed of patience against the screed of despair that was rife internally. That helped lift the pressure of the players as they relearned how to play proper football. Goodwin seems in-cognisant of this ability, a we got a recent reminder of that with the below clip illustrating an awareness of a damaging narrative: that Watts "is the most talked about player" for someone who is not a core player, not in the leadership group, not in the coaching staff, and not in the administration. Those last points I added myself as Goodwin only stoked the narrative that Watts was worthy of all this attention after our failed 2017 by covering himself by saying he has a good relationship with Jack, mentioning the coaching staff are clear with Jack, and keeping the narrative of 'Watts = Melbourne' fermenting by giving the discussion relevance with the content and tone of his response about his contract and him staying at the club. Goodwin can come out forcefully and protect Jack Watts (or the next saviour) by shifting the focus and sharing the burden around with himself, his staff, the admin, and the leadership group that does very little leading when it comes to the burden of being the public face of the club, and the target of the ire of the club. Lewis does some and Gawn too, but years after Watts revealed himself to be nothing more than a uniquely talented role player, we are still shoving him into the coalface with little hesitation. If the rumours are true that we are shopping him around while at the same time that we are pushing him forward for cringeworthy press spots (https://au.sports.yahoo.com/afl/a/37206220/jack-watts-opens-up-on-2017-season-and-trade-talk/) - then the situation is more dire than I thought. I have heard from a good source that the interpersonal relationships at the club are good - and that gives me some solace, but I sit here and I have no idea who the leader of the club was. Last three years I could tell you who it was - for good or bad - it was Paul Roos. Oddly enough, he shielded the enigmatic blonde kid a couple times and Watts responded. But this year - I haven't heard much from the Admin so it isn't Jackson, it certainly isn't Mahoney or Bartlett. Nathan Jones has been seen and heard, but no more than previous years as captain. A novice coach doesn't have to be as good as Paul Roos - he is a great coach who helped redefine AFL in the professional era - but this novice coach needs to step up and start leading the club and driving the narratives that help his team, his players, and his club. Because, I have only seen or heard one leader since September 1 - and he might be traded next week...