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WHO ARE WE AGAIN? by Whispering Jack


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Just over twelve months ago on the eve of the Round 2 West Coast Eagles game in Perth, I wrote that the way in which Melbourne approached that particular fixture would define the playing group, given its poor start to the season under then new coach Mark Neeld. The result was an even more insipid performance by the team than the week before and it was followed by more of the same for the majority of the season.

A full year later, the team in a different form with a number of new faces repeated the dose in Round 2 against Essendon. This time, it was another defeat in excess of 100 points but far worse and in front of an angry MCG crowd.

What we gathered from that was an undercurrent of disaffection between the playing group and those who control it. That means the board and administration, the coaches and yes, ultimately the supporter group. The disconnect was there to see - a repeat of the disgrace that came to be known as "186", a day when the players appeared to down tools and withdraw their labour. Alternatively, if you want to be charitable it was at the very least, a failure to perform to even the minimum acceptable standard in the sport. The supporters were not only let down - they were treated with contempt.

If the board, or the administration or the football department deserved that sort of treatment, the supporters certainly did not. Some of the fans will never come back and though I would never put myself in that category, I can hardly say that I blame them. Those who defend the players might well say they owe the supporters nothing; that there were issues that they needed to deal with (and that might well be the case) but what we saw on the playing field was unprofessional and nothing short of deplorable.

The thing that most football fans can't really abide from supposed professionals taking the field in their club colours is not doing the basics like running, chasing, tackling and putting pressure on their own opponents. These things are the non-negotiables of our game.

I usually disagree with much of what Patrick Smith writes but not when he drew the analogy between Melbourne's ineptitude last week and Essendon's sparkling performance. If one of the two playing groups out there was entitled to rebel against those in control of their club, it should have been the Bombers whose players were led up the garden path in such a scandalous manner when injected out of club premises with substances whose legality and identity they apparently can't now be completely assured of by their club hierarchy. Some might argue that this provides justification for players to rebel against the club for the contempt with which they were treated.

But they acted as professionals with a duty to the club that pays their wages, to their loyal supporters and to themselves. Their refusal to tank defined that playing group.

This can't be said of the playing group at Melbourne which has now drawn blood in the form of the departing CEO and caused substantial distress to their young coach. Even if there are issues with his coaching, is this how sane and rational people deal with such a situation. Are they now satisfied having blown the lid off the season and brought themselves and their club into disrepute or am I reading this wrongly and our playing group is just inept and incompetent?

There's far more to this than just the playing group and a young coach struggling to impose a new systems and standards at the club. We are fractured and hurt by factions that carry with them a destructive mindset that has persisted for close on five decades since the time we dominated the competition and the code. Whatever way you look at it, having fallen in the estimation of the football world, the Demons need to work their butts off to rise again.

Perhaps they might heed the words of American author and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.


Now is the time to rise ...

THE GAME

Melbourne v West Coast Eagles at MCG - Saturday 13 April 2013 at 2:10pm (AEST).

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 15 wins West Coast 28 wins

At MCG Melbourne 7 wins West Coast 7 wins

Since 2000 Melbourne 7 wins West Coast 12 wins

The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Worsfold 1 win

MEDIA

TV Fox Sports Channel at 2pm (live)

RADIO

THE BETTING

West Coast to win $1.03 Melbourne to win $12.00

LAST TIME THEY MET

West Coast 25.16.166 defeated Melbourne 9.4.58 at Patersons Stadium, Round 2, 2012

The Eagles handed out a thrashing, winning by a club record 108 points at Patersons Stadium, dominating the possessions 447-313, not to mention the free kick count which, at one stage read 21-1. Mitch Clark booted five goals and was one of the few shining lights in the gloom of the West.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE


Backs Neville Jetta, James Frawley, Dean Terlich
Half backs Jack Trengove, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland
Centreline Michael Evans, Jack Grimes, Jack Viney
Half forwards Matt Jones, Mitch Clark, Jeremy Howe
Forwards Aaron Davey James Sellar Shannon Byrnes
Followers Mark Jamar Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones
Interchange Rohan Bail Cam Pedersen Luke Tapscott Jimmy Toumpas
Emergencies David Rodan Jake Spencer Jack Watts

In Rohan Bail Michael Evans Neville Jetta Cam Pedersen Luke Tapscott

Out Sam Blease Tom Gillies (groin) Daniel Nicholson David Rodan Jack Watts

WEST COAST

Backs Schofield Glass A Selwood
Half backs Hurn Brown Waters
Centreline Gaff Priddis Masten
Half forwards Embley Kennedy Hams
Forwards Darling Hill Le Cras
Followers Cox S Selwood Shuey
Interchange Butler Cripps Kerr Sinclair
Emergencies Brennan Dalziell Wilson

In Kerr Le Cras

Out Dalziell Sheppard (shoulder)

IT'S NOT A PERFECT WORLD by Whispering Jack

If we were living in a perfect world, this week would have been the ideal one for Melbourne to confront the West Coast Eagles.

The visitors are coming off a six day break from a tough game played in 32 degree heat and have travelled across the continent to play on a ground where they haven't won a game since they surprised Melbourne in the first half of their wooden spoon :lol: season of 2010. Since then, the Eagles have lost seven consecutive games on the MCG.

Like Melbourne, the Eagles are 0-2 and have not been particularly impressive to date, although admittedly they lost at the hands of some strong opposition. They have some key on field personnel missing and a couple back from injury who might be suspect if put under enough pressure. And there lies the crux of the problem.

Pressure.

In its two games thus far, the Demons have exerted absolutely zero pressure on their opponents. For a team that has ostensibly trained hard for two pre seasons to develop this aspect of the game, they have given absolutely nothing and on Saturday, they come up against one of the very teams that exposed them so badly in this very area twice in the season before Mark Neeld became coach.

Melbourne has selected a marginally better side on paper than the one which has failed abysmally in the past two weeks. The defence is a little less stacked with talls who have no run and exert little defensive pressure. The same can be said of the midfield which has been so static but which remains particularly young and inexperienced.

Above all, one must ask whether anything has happened to this group in the past seven days to change its shattered mindset?

The removal of the CEO who, on the face of it has ensured that the club's off field finances are "tracking very well" according to the AFL and kept himself apart from the workings of the football department since it was restructured at the end of 2011?

Hardly.

A day and night of bonding at the Sorrento Hotel followed by a closed training session at Casey Fields?

Perhaps.

The shame of being booed off the ground by their own supporters, then to be pilloried mercilessly in the media, deservedly so for their sub standard efforts and failure to have a crack or the fear of being the next players demoted?

This is the professional era in sport. Many of us were surprised last year when players with plentiful experience at various AFL clubs were delisted but failed to find suitors. It would not surprise if the same thing happened again this year. The Demons need to learn that they are all playing for their football lives if not their team and club and that if they continue to serve up that which they've shown to date, its going to be all over for many of them by year's end.

Based on the events of the past week, I can see a little improvement but against a far more desperate Eagles that need the four points and percentage on offer, I don't expect enough improvement to overcome this team's crisis in confidence or for it to show the pride and character of the Bombers who continue to play like professionals despite their own crisis surrounding the club and coach and in which they find themselves right in the middle.

Two weeks ago I predicted that Melbourne would be the most unpredictable side in the competition but it's not a perfect world and I was wrong. They now are sadly, the most predictable.

West Coast by 72 points.

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Faboulous post. Thanks WJ.... The faction thing inside MFC is certainly something I have underestimated in terms of how "dee-structive" it has been. I think anyone who has contributed any amount of money for debt demolition or just ordinary membership was owed something much greater than that petty nonsense..... They are on notice to get their act together and have got till the end of the season to show significant improvement.. I can handle losing but not when the "non negotiables" are nowhere to be seen...

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I agree with most of your post but have difficulty with. " our playing group is just inept and incompetent?". This is almost unfounded as many have stated . These players have survived and endured a prolonged assessment of abilities and skills and been subjected to close inspection.

"a young coach struggling to impose a new systems and standards at the club" may have relevance if the word impose is accurate. Neeld has apparently initiated many changes delisted and selected players and has ultimate responsibility for the game. He may have neglected using the resources (players skills ) he had to the best effect while imposing new systems and standards.

It is a complex issue and I just hope there are wise heads in the club sifting through the many comments made here on Dland and adding to their intimate knowledge when trying to improve our situation

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I have said it before and will repeat it again...yes...we can point the finger at the President and the board, Yes we can point the finger at the CEO and yes, the coach and coaching staff need to accept some responsibility for the appalling start to the year BUT.......

Any deflection away from the main culprits of the disasterous start to the season is a crime in itself. That the players dont understand the game plan or the structures I get but there are certain aspects of football that do not require coaching or a competent CEO or a united board and that is chasing, tackling, running and basically caring about your performance. If you look at Mitch Clarks performance on Saturday - he was ineffectual and soundly beaten but you can see in his efforts and approach that he cares, that he gives a damn which is more than can said about many others who pulled on the jumper.

Being a professional and having care as to how you perform is not a complex issue at all - it should be a PERSONAL non negotiable that doesnt need to be coached by a coach or administered by adminstration.

Edited by nutbean
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"We are fractured and hurt by factions that carry with them a destructive mindset that has persisted for close on five decades since the time we dominated the competition and the code".

Great post Whispering. I have one question. Not being privy to the inside machinations of the club I am always been intrigued by references to these factions are and how they operate. For as long as I can remember they have been referred too in hushed tones and yet as a loyal supporter of the club for nigh on 5 decades I have no inkling of who they are and what they represent. From the outside looking in I have difficulty accepting that there are those amongst us who would actively pursue an agenda that endangers or destabilises the club for personal gain or ego, and yet I don't doubt you. At times our club conducts itself as if it were a secret society and only the chosen few will ever know the truth. Maybe we should commission Dan Brown to do the next history of the MFC.

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"We are fractured and hurt by factions that carry with them a destructive mindset that has persisted for close on five decades since the time we dominated the competition and the code".

Great post Whispering. I have one question. Not being privy to the inside machinations of the club I am always been intrigued by references to these factions are and how they operate. For as long as I can remember they have been referred too in hushed tones and yet as a loyal supporter of the club for nigh on 5 decades I have no inkling of who they are and what they represent. From the outside looking in I have difficulty accepting that there are those amongst us who would actively pursue an agenda that endangers or destabilises the club for personal gain or ego, and yet I don't doubt you. At times our club conducts itself as if it were a secret society and only the chosen few will ever know the truth. Maybe we should commission Dan Brown to do the next history of the MFC.

I'm reflecting on the club historically since the mid 60's starting with the sacking of Norm Smith in 1965. We've had a series of well documented stoushes between factions and the instability has affected us enormously on and off the field and it's damaged many careers along the way. Sometimes the coaches and players have been right in the middle of it, sometimes they've remained outside and at other times they've been damaged collaterally.

Are there factions within the current board? - not that I know of but we're all aware that various groups have had agendas over the past few years and we won't ever more forward without unity. It's no coincidence that it all started in 1965 when our greatest ever coach was stabbed in the back.

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