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Game plans, tactics and all that jazz


binman
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Some stats based reflections:

1. Much has been made of Melbourne's average of 12-15 inside forward 50 tackles. I wonder what the key drivers of that stat are, because I think there are a few things that need to be considered:

a. This could be correlated with poor entries inside f50 - a trend that Melbourne has had for the last 4 plus years.  Is efficiency going inside forward 50 (defined as entries resulting in score involvements) negatively correlated with forward 50 tackles?

b. Are inside forward 50 tackles normally distributed across forwards - assumption is no, as tall forwards are likely to create contests resulting in small forwards making tackles. 

c. Are certain forwards (Melksham/Fritsch) correctly judged based on argument 1b. above? 

Intuitively without analysing the data on the tapes, it seems very clear to me that if Ben Brown, Fritsch, Tom Mcdonald are tackling, then the system is not working perhaps as we intended it to work. 

 

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Thanks @Drunkn167 for the link on the ABC website.

For me what was helpful - was sense making around turnovers.

For those that are quick to criticise players that have turnovers- here is a neat little graph to lower your expectations and ground it into the reality of playing at the elite level.

I presume that I don't need to explain the graph.

 

Screenshot 2021-05-13 at 9.36.32 am.png

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Was some fascinating footage of what our players are doing without the ball on The First Crack last night by David King.

Would love to put it in this thread as it seems really relevant to our new look defense.  Can't find last nights episode to highlight it though.   If anyone could find it would be great to discuss!  

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Yeah that was really good, especially the little graphic showing where all the players were actually looking and what they were doing when the ball wasn't in play.  Great stuff!

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50 minutes ago, JTR said:

Yeah that was really good, especially the little graphic showing where all the players were actually looking and what they were doing when the ball wasn't in play.  Great stuff!

I also loved that footage.

It really displays the buy in from the players to think defence and structure first with how they look at point.

Leaders all over the ground

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Loved the question from King to Robbo:

King: When you are at the ground do you see that?

Robbo, hand on chin, long pause, looks a bit shocked: Then crickets.

Then after eventually fudging some response (the conclusion being, no, he doesn't see that when he goes to a game) Robbo, a full time professional football journalist seriously asks if Teague would know about that sort of detail. And reckon it's a crazy world - could Teague be sitting at home watching this and go whoa that's what we need to do?

King and Montagne: speechless

Jesus wept.

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12 minutes ago, FritschyBusiness said:

I also loved that footage.

It really displays the buy in from the players to think defence and structure first with how they look at point.

Leaders all over the ground

Key comment from King: that takes years to build. 

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21 minutes ago, binman said:

Loved the question from King to Robbo:

King: When you are at the ground do you see that?

Robbo, hand on chin, long pause, looks a bit shocked: Then crickets.

Then after eventually fudging some response (the conclusion being, no, he doesn't see that when he goes to a game) Robbo, a full time professional football journalist seriously asks if Teague would know about that sort of detail. And reckon it's a crazy world - could Teague be sitting at home watching this and go whoa that's what we need to do?

King and Montagne: speechless

Jesus wept.

That was crazy, it's like he's stuck in the 80s. Yeah Teague is at home thinking "gee whiz look at that a footy side with a defensive structure" - what does Robbo think footy club's do all week? Circle work and 100 X 100s?

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43 minutes ago, binman said:

Key comment from King: that takes years to build. 

I gave Robbo, the benefit of the doubt, that he was asking as though it was on behalf of the general viewing public.

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3 minutes ago, Engorged Onion said:

I gave Robbo, the benefit of the doubt, that he was asking as though it was on behalf of the general viewing public.

Mmm. I don't.

I don't think even sure what he had just watched, with the vison, the tape stopped to make a point, players highlighted and it all being explained to him by King, let alone seeing it at the ground 

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3 minutes ago, binman said:

Mmm. I don't.

I don't think even sure what he had just watched, with the vison, the tape stopped to make a point, players highlighted and it all being explained to him by King, let alone seeing it at the ground 

Perhaps I have too stronger recollections of mature age students, who ask questions of tutors/supervisors in front of a packed audience, in such a way, that they too can confirm the already know the answer, as a way to confirm superiority of knowledge (inferiority) in front of the younger students.

Anyways...they were hated in the cohort.

Not dissimilar to Robbo I suppose.

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Posted (edited)

Sense making on our 'brand'.

I just came to a realisation around 15 minutes ago.

I feel as though this year is the fruition of  years of research from Goodwin whereby has has drawn from other sports around the world and made a mix that works well, whilst combining elements that are relevant to the uniqueness of AFL.

In this thread there have been plenty of links to soccer (mostly EPL as a reference point) and in particular Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool system. I want to revisit the notion of Gengenpressing  as I believe this is a core tenant of how we play.

Thus, it is of no coincidence that Darren Burgess was recruited in the last three years to help facilitate this style. But I want to be clear - Darren is not the reason that we play this way (he is one of the reasons we now can). The move to play this way  began before Darren was hired and is evidenced by  Goodwin's experimentation of Diamond Defence's, which in turn alludes to his deep tactical awareness and his creativity in setting up a system that can sustain success.

So a revision on what Gengenpressing is

Gegenpressing, which is German for 'counter pressing', is a tactical philosophy that has been popularised by Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool teams.

The essence of the philosophy is not only that teams press their opponents, but that they do so with particular focus and zeal when the ball is in the opposition territory; in effect, countering the counter-attack.

It requires the forward line to commit to a lot of running as they are instructed to rapidly close down opposition defenders in order to force an error when an attempt is made to play the ball out from the back.

Klopp explained: "Gegenpressing lets you win back the ball nearer to the goal. It's only one pass away from a really good opportunity. No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good gegenpressing situation, and that's why it's so important."

The intense pressing game is, naturally, stuctured insofar as it involves the targeting of weak links in the defence - those least adept on the ball, for instance - and it involves careful calculation of risk.

So, while it is important in gegenpressing to maintain a high level of pressing throughout the game, players must be able to evaluate when to fall back into a defensive position in order to conserve energy. It simply cannot function if a team is completely exhausted or prone to injury.

However, it is not just the forward line who play their part in the gegenpressing system. The entire team must be correctly positioned in order to support the press from the front by closing down any potential passing options for the opponent who has the ball.

Part of the thinking behind this unitary pressing is that it allows the team that presses greater options in the counter-attack which arises from the counter-press. 

 

So to me this makes perfect sense to link it back to how we are now operating at centre clearences AS WELL as the evidence  of where we sit on capitalising on turnovers.

Remembering that clearances are only one part of the story – what really matters is what happens after them, and whether a team can convert their ability to win the ball into points on the scoreboard. On this, our defence is clearly rock solid, from an overall points conceded perspective as well as being first (a record?) at % of scores per inside 50.

Finally, we sit first on capitalising on turnovers  - or point's difference from turnovers.

1227525550_ScreenShot2021-05-19at7_44_33am.thumb.png.7a85590c13bbbf3f4a38eb2b70f0d956.png

I'm advocating adopting the term Goodwinpressing, as language to understand some of the mechanics of what our system does, and how it allows us to play and capitalise the way we do.

I look forward to David King using this at some stage ?

Edited by Engorged Onion
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1 hour ago, Engorged Onion said:

Sense making on our 'brand'.

I just came to a realisation around 15 minutes ago.

I feel as though this year is the fruition of  years of research from Goodwin whereby has has drawn from other sports around the world and made a mix that works well, whilst combining elements that are relevant to the uniqueness of AFL.

In this thread there have been plenty of links to soccer (mostly EPL as a reference point) and in particular Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool system. I want to revisit the notion of Gengenpressing  as I believe this is a core tenant of how we play.

Thus, it is of no coincidence that Darren Burgess was recruited in the last three years to help facilitate this style. But I want to be clear - Darren is not the reason that we play this way (he is one of the reasons we now can). The move to play this way  began before Darren was hired and is evidenced by  Goodwin's experimentation of Diamond Defence's, which in turn alludes to his deep tactical awareness and his creativity in setting up a system that can sustain success.

So a revision on what Gengenpressing is

Gegenpressing, which is German for 'counter pressing', is a tactical philosophy that has been popularised by Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool teams.

The essence of the philosophy is not only that teams press their opponents, but that they do so with particular focus and zeal when the ball is in the opposition territory; in effect, countering the counter-attack.

It requires the forward line to commit to a lot of running as they are instructed to rapidly close down opposition defenders in order to force an error when an attempt is made to play the ball out from the back.

Klopp explained: "Gegenpressing lets you win back the ball nearer to the goal. It's only one pass away from a really good opportunity. No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good gegenpressing situation, and that's why it's so important."

The intense pressing game is, naturally, stuctured insofar as it involves the targeting of weak links in the defence - those least adept on the ball, for instance - and it involves careful calculation of risk.

So, while it is important in gegenpressing to maintain a high level of pressing throughout the game, players must be able to evaluate when to fall back into a defensive position in order to conserve energy. It simply cannot function if a team is completely exhausted or prone to injury.

However, it is not just the forward line who play their part in the gegenpressing system. The entire team must be correctly positioned in order to support the press from the front by closing down any potential passing options for the opponent who has the ball.

Part of the thinking behind this unitary pressing is that it allows the team that presses greater options in the counter-attack which arises from the counter-press. 

 

So to me this makes perfect sense to link it back to how we are now operating at centre clearences AS WELL as the evidence  of where we sit on capitalising on turnovers.

Remembering that clearances are only one part of the story – what really matters is what happens after them, and whether a team can convert their ability to win the ball into points on the scoreboard. On this, our defence is clearly rock solid, from an overall points conceded perspective as well as being first (a record?) at % of scores per inside 50.

Finally, we sit first on capitalising on turnovers  - or point's difference from turnovers.

1227525550_ScreenShot2021-05-19at7_44_33am.thumb.png.7a85590c13bbbf3f4a38eb2b70f0d956.png

I'm advocating adopting the term Goodwinpressing, as language to understand some of the mechanics of what our system does, and how it allows us to play and capitalise the way we do.

I look forward to David King using this at some stage ?

Love it mate, but I'm going to disagree with you here. I think the Goodwinpressing was absolutely a feature of our games across 2017-2019, even early parts of 2020, but I think our defensive set up is now far closer to Clarko's cluster from yesteryear. We protect the corridor and are quick to close any switching exits.

We've even started to block the 'play on' space from a standstill defensive position on the wings and flanks. When Carlton had it and looked to kick it long down the line, Kozzie would man the 15m space that the kicker would normally move into to get extra distance with the new rule. I haven't worked out yet whether this was something Kozzie was smart enough to do himself or whether it was a directive. Sidebottom did the same in the Sydney game. In Kozzie's situation, it meant that someone with pace could close down the kicker once they tried to play on, but without giving the 50m away by encroaching on the 15m zone.

It's quite evident in games that we zonally mark space rather than press (Langdon and Gus are vital components here) and, sure, if an opposition player tries to break lines we're in a position to tackle and defend, but what happens mostly is that an opposition defender will look up and see a sea of Melbourne jumpers ahead. I think the instinct of a modern player is not to run and carry through that and undermine their own defensive positioning, particularly if their own disposal slingshots back at them. Instead, I think they look for a shorter option or more often a long kick up the line to a contest (and right into our hands).

The Goodwinpress was far too aggressive and naturally left space out the back as the opposition could draw tacklers and utilise the space created to continue their attack. We used to see a lot of goals out the back. Carlton's first on the weekend was a very rare sight, where we all went up and it went out the back. Usually, our team plays with the ball in front of them. 

Petty, May and Lever all took turns at playing the goalkeeper role. May and Lever played it a little higher, but Petty was often 50m behind the play. As shown in the Sydney analysis by King. This happened again on the weekend. At one stage, Carlton dump kicked it over our initial wall and a completely free Petty marked in 30-50m of space. It was less obvious on the replay, but at the ground he was ridiculously deep. I loved it. And as King said, the deepness of this sweeper allows Lever and May to really play a more aggressive intercept game, knowing they've got cover out the back and quickness of defensive transition with the wingers helping out Hunt and Rivers to get back and cover Petty if the ball gets through May and Lever. It's a pretty impregnable set up.

I think the first signs of this system started in the Collingwood game last year and were honed and really delivered in that St Kilda game.

Like the Goodwinpressing, our current system still requires massive work rate to constantly shift and reposition the zone. Of course, there is definitely some pressing inside 50, but usually 3 or 4 players, not an 18 man press with mids pushing up like in Klopp's teams. We don't usually add an extra or two to stoppages anymore either. We're happy to have that extra behind ball. In some ways, it's been a monumental shift in philosophy. 

The boys mentioned it on the podcast last night, the ability to give up centre clearences for example and still be dominant around the ground. They mentioned Richmond and Hawthorn. I'd add Chris Scott's teams to this too. They're fine losing clearance, because they're well set up behind the ball.

I think the other reason we've gone away from Klopp's aggressive style is our local game is far too quick. It's also much tougher to press exits on an AFL ground as opposed to a football pitch. 

This new system will get found out soon enough, but I'm hoping not within this year. It might take playing a 1v1 set up in the forward half, but even then, we're forcing teams to go against their own philosophies just to deal with our defensive set up. It'll be fascinating to see how this unfolds.

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41 minutes ago, A F said:

This new system will get found out soon enough, but I'm hoping not within this year.

Only positive of the soft cap reduction is that there's less people being paid to figure out how to stop us!!  Can't remember who said it but heard a coach or player say one of the big differences post covid is that there's a lot less time and resources for opposition analysis.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, A F said:

Love it mate, but I'm going to disagree with you here. I think the Goodwinpressing was absolutely a feature of our games across 2017-2019, even early parts of 2020, but I think our defensive set up is now far closer to Clarko's cluster from yesteryear. We protect the corridor and are quick to close any switching exits.

We've even started to block the 'play on' space from a standstill defensive position on the wings and flanks. When Carlton had it and looked to kick it long down the line, Kozzie would man the 15m space that the kicker would normally move into to get extra distance with the new rule. I haven't worked out yet whether this was something Kozzie was smart enough to do himself or whether it was a directive. Sidebottom did the same in the Sydney game. In Kozzie's situation, it meant that someone with pace could close down the kicker once they tried to play on, but without giving the 50m away by encroaching on the 15m zone.

It's quite evident in games that we zonally mark space rather than press (Langdon and Gus are vital components here) and, sure, if an opposition player tries to break lines we're in a position to tackle and defend, but what happens mostly is that an opposition defender will look up and see a sea of Melbourne jumpers ahead. I think the instinct of a modern player is not to run and carry through that and undermine their own defensive positioning, particularly if their own disposal slingshots back at them. Instead, I think they look for a shorter option or more often a long kick up the line to a contest (and right into our hands).

The Goodwinpress was far too aggressive and naturally left space out the back as the opposition could draw tacklers and utilise the space created to continue their attack. We used to see a lot of goals out the back. Carlton's first on the weekend was a very rare sight, where we all went up and it went out the back. Usually, our team plays with the ball in front of them. 

Petty, May and Lever all took turns at playing the goalkeeper role. May and Lever played it a little higher, but Petty was often 50m behind the play. As shown in the Sydney analysis by King. This happened again on the weekend. At one stage, Carlton dump kicked it over our initial wall and a completely free Petty marked in 30-50m of space. It was less obvious on the replay, but at the ground he was ridiculously deep. I loved it. And as King said, the deepness of this sweeper allows Lever and May to really play a more aggressive intercept game, knowing they've got cover out the back and quickness of defensive transition with the wingers helping out Hunt and Rivers to get back and cover Petty if the ball gets through May and Lever. It's a pretty impregnable set up.

I think the first signs of this system started in the Collingwood game last year and were honed and really delivered in that St Kilda game.

Like the Goodwinpressing, our current system still requires massive work rate to constantly shift and reposition the zone. Of course, there is definitely some pressing inside 50, but usually 3 or 4 players, not an 18 man press with mids pushing up like in Klopp's teams. We don't usually add an extra or two to stoppages anymore either. We're happy to have that extra behind ball. In some ways, it's been a monumental shift in philosophy. 

The boys mentioned it on the podcast last night, the ability to give up centre clearences for example and still be dominant around the ground. They mentioned Richmond and Hawthorn. I'd add Chris Scott's teams to this too. They're fine losing clearance, because they're well set up behind the ball.

I think the other reason we've gone away from Klopp's aggressive style is our local game is far too quick. It's also much tougher to press exits on an AFL ground as opposed to a football pitch. 

This new system will get found out soon enough, but I'm hoping not within this year. It might take playing a 1v1 set up in the forward half, but even then, we're forcing teams to go against their own philosophies just to deal with our defensive set up. It'll be fascinating to see how this unfolds.

I think you have successfully dismantled my thesis ?but I'll retort after my work day.

Edited by Engorged Onion
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I actually think you are both right.

We definitely still press high when the ball is on our half. And often in a very tight formation, when the ball is inside our inside 50 meter arc. Which is at the heart of the Gengenpressing philosophy.

That is really evident  watching live, particularly when  you sit behind the goals up high. It is crazy how often 36 players are within say 70 meters of the ball and contest when the ball is in our 50. I liken it to a fluid cell

The goal is to trap it in our forward half - and if that fails create pressure on the exit kick, force a turnover and get a reentry. We have been brilliant at stopping teams switch, which is the go to way of breaking a press.

Players like Rivers and Hunt, who are stationed on the edges of the 70 metre cell work super hard to get across and ideally force a turnover or at the least get to mark so they cant immediately move it on.

At the same time other players have gut run to cover the down the line option, meaning the opposition often get stuck at their HB line. That was really evident against the Swans

When we do force, what is essentially an offensive turnover, the kick back inside 50 is often a challenge because it still super crowded  because of our press.

This is definitely a factor in our inaccuracy this season. The last quarter against the blues was the was the perfect example. By that stage we were monstering them and our very effective Goodwinpressing meant the ball lived in our forward half. Which also meant our forward half was more often than not super congested.

So the two options seem to be a short chiselling kick of the sort Langdon hit to Nibbler to set up a mark and goal. Or a kick to the pocket, where we look to mark it with our bigs, bring it ground for our smalls or force a stoppage so we can reset.

All very predictable and if the opposition do win win the ball once again it is in traffic and under pressure creating another opportunity to create another turnover.

And our tall forward line means max doesn't have to take stoppages deep inside our 50, allowing him to station himself just outside 50 on the perimeter of our cell.  So if the opposition do win the ball they are often faced with kicking it to gawn or instead taking the riskier option of trying to switch and opening up the goal face.

If i understand it properly, that all seems to be congruent with the Gengenpressing philosophy

But you're right AF, we also zonally guard space.

However what i would say is that that they do so still as part of a fluid cell that as you say requires massive work rate to constantly shift and reposition the zone.

When the opposition do get past our forward press we do everything we can to slow their transition and flood back en masse to get to their designated spot in the zone they have to guard, as evidenced by that footage King showed (and all the pointing).

As King noted, and you point out, we have a defender deep in goal keeper role to support the zone. That was Tomlinson, now Petty (thoughas you say they seemed to have mixed that up a bit against the blues, so it will interesting to see if that continues).

However that player still presses high when we go forward, but on the outside of the perimeter and closet to the opposition goal (sometimes he might only go up the centre, but often further) and will run back to say 30 metres out from their goals as the ball is transitioned.

That play that petty almost got caught out on was the perfect example. He got aggressive and pushed up super high and almost got caught out. Good thing he got back, but had to sprint super hard to do so.

We have been utilizing key elments of this model since about half way through 2018 when we realized we were getting hurt too often on the counter. Omac was the goal keeper in that model and they stopped pressing so high, but still pressed. And we abandoned the players running off the back of the square too. 

I think we are actually more aggressive with that press now, but that's perhaps because our players are so much fitter and can get back when required.  

From round 12 that year we conceded the least points on the back of this change. And since that time have been defensively very strong.

Your point about our stoppages is really god one. As you say we don't bring an extra to stoppages and often have a player, say 40 metres away, on the defensive side to intercept opposition kicks. Which is exactly what happened against the blues. 

So that tactic has clear elements of a zone system but is still consistent with the Gengenpressing philosophy because it supports our efforts to trap it in our forward half, particularly if the stoppage is within 60 metres of our goal. 

On Kickett guarding the corridor at marks we have been doing that all season. Nibbler does it often as does Spargo. Very disciplined.

It is clever because it makes it harder to go the corridor and/or switch and so supports our model. It is also one reason why  opposition teams don't seem to have been able to hurt us with the new stand rule. 

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Posted (edited)

For many years I have viewed the DE stat with some scepticism, but it is interesting to note that we are dead last for disposal efficiency. This despite all the talk of the Williams effect. It would be interesting to read why Demonlanders think this might be the case, particularly as we are trying to be much more careful from stoppages and we seem to be much cleaner than previous years. In our effort to create the perfect clearance with use of handball, is this impacting on our DE efficiency?

Edited by A F
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46 minutes ago, A F said:

 In our effort to create the perfect clearance with use of handball, is this impacting on our DE efficiency?

Possibly.

Bu I think the biggest factor is our tactical model, where we look to go forward to get territory, rather then sideway kicks back and for the across the backline waiting for an opportunity to switch or pick our way through a opposition press or zone (the way the Eagles do - i'm guessing they or perhaps Geelong top the DE table?)

And with our Goodwinpress and focus on trapping the ball inside our 50 as I noted in my previous post it is often super congested in our front half which means less space and increased risk of disposals not hitting their target.

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The reason why we are number one scoring from turnovers is not because of our skill in moving the footy - it’s because of where those turnovers are occurring -  very close to goal.

That may be stating the obvious but we talk about the skills and the DE getting better but I don’t think that’s the driver behind our success. We are just creating havoc well up the ground and it is easier to turn that into a scoring opportunity.

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1 hour ago, binman said:

Possibly.

Bu I think the biggest factor is our tactical model, where we look to go forward to get territory, rather then sideway kicks back and for the across the backline waiting for an opportunity to switch or pick our way through a opposition press or zone (the way the Eagles do - i'm guessing they or perhaps Geelong top the DE table?)

And with our Goodwinpress and focus on trapping the ball inside our 50 as I noted in my previous post it is often super congested in our front half which means less space and increased risk of disposals not hitting their target.

Close. Bulldogs, Eagles, Hawthorn, Geelong and North lead the DE team stat.

It's interesting to note the two bottom teams are in the top 5. I think you must be spot on and it's about the tactical way we play. 

 

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27 minutes ago, rpfc said:

The reason why we are number one scoring from turnovers is not because of our skill in moving the footy - it’s because of where those turnovers are occurring -  very close to goal.

That may be stating the obvious but we talk about the skills and the DE getting better but I don’t think that’s the driver behind our success. We are just creating havoc well up the ground and it is easier to turn that into a scoring opportunity.

Completely agree. And this is where the comparison to Klopp's team is still very apt. The aim being to force a turnover as quickly as possible or at least as deep in our forward half as possible.

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It doesn't surprise me the Hawks are number 2 as Clarkson has always been about controlled ball movement.

It does surprise me the dogs are so high as the play pretty ballistic style of footy.

It goes to show how many skilled ball users they have, by hand and foot  - and how brilliant they are at being able to handball their way through heavy traffic..

And it is pretty good evidence of how dangerous a side they are

A team that combines winning clearance, strong contested footy, off the charts pressure and high DE is gong to cut a lot of teams up.

Can't wait to see how we go against them because i'd have them as favorites for the flag if i was setting a market.

Will our pressure be enough to disrupt their game and reduce their DE?

The tiger's pressure destroyed them in the second half of their game. I have not seen the port dogs game. I wonder how the power's pressure was in that game?

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2 hours ago, binman said:

It doesn't surprise me the Hawks are number 2 as Clarkson has always been about controlled ball movement.

It does surprise me the dogs are so high as the play pretty ballistic style of footy.

It goes to show how many skilled ball users they have, by hand and foot  - and how brilliant they are at being able to handball their way through heavy traffic..

And it is pretty good evidence of how dangerous a side they are

A team that combines winning clearance, strong contested footy, off the charts pressure and high DE is gong to cut a lot of teams up.

Can't wait to see how we go against them because i'd have them as favorites for the flag if i was setting a market.

Will our pressure be enough to disrupt their game and reduce their DE?

The tiger's pressure destroyed them in the second half of their game. I have not seen the port dogs game. I wonder how the power's pressure was in that game?

The Dogs will be hard to beat at Marvel and potentially harder at the G (their outside game could really tear you up), but I reckon Brisbane and even Richmond are a stronger team than the Dogs. But each to their own.

It's interesting to note those top 3 teams are either Clarkson or Clarkson assistants.

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  • Match Previews, Reports & Articles  

    CAT SKINNING by George On The Outer

    When they defeated the Geelong Cats in the 2021 AFL Preliminary Final on Friday night in Perth, Melbourne proved that there is more than one way to skin those cats.  They did it in the ruck and in the middle, they did it in the forward line, they did it in defence and around the ground, but importantly, each and every player a Demon guernsey spent his night at Optus Stadium skinning an opponent. Following the after-the-siren win against Geelong in Round 23, there was an expectation of

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    THE POINTY END by The Oracle

    The AFL’s two oldest clubs, Melbourne and Geelong, face off on Friday evening in a sudden death Preliminary Final. It’s a game that promises plenty in terms of fascination and intrigue as a result of the rivalry that’s been building between the teams over recent encounters that have been tight struggles which have gone to the wire with two of them decided by after-the-siren goals. The added touch of mystery attached to this week’s meeting comes by virtue of the fact that it’s going to take

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    THE VFL YEAR THAT NEVER WAS by KC from Casey

    The rising case numbers and the continuing lockdowns in Victoria and NSW spelled doom for the 2021 VFL season which went through a slow, painful demise before its recent official cancellation. After weeks of indecision, the AFL decided to pull the plug on the season with the 10-0 Bulldogs recognised as minor premier, but without a premiership cup and without awarding the J.J. Liston Medal for the best and fairest VFL player. It was somewhat fortuitous for the integrity of the competition t

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    TAMING THE LIONS by George On The Outer

    With nine finals debutants in the side, the Melbourne Football Club had a daunting assignment ahead of it in the First Qualifying Final — to overcome the competition’s highest scoring side, the Brisbane Lions. In the end, the Demons accomplished the task by putting the bite on their opponents on their way to taming the Lions and recording a 33 point win that propelled them into one the two Preliminary Finals of 2021.   It was one of those debutants, Luke Jackson, who put the bite in more

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    RETURN TO NEVERLAND by Whispering Jack

    The greatest Demon A HIGHWAY OF DEMONS by Whispering Jack CHAPTER SIXTEEN - RETURN TO NEVERLAND  I have a six year old grandson who recently took up the family tradition of following the Demons. He had his first taste of the game a few years ago when he went to the “G” with his parents to watch the 107-point massacre of Carlton and he went to another game in the following season which was also a W for the Dees. But his appetite for the club has grown exponentially this year and wh

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    Special Features 13

    METAMORPHOSIS by Whispering Jack

    I’ve always believed that when the home and away matches come to an end, the football season takes on a completely different shape and character. During the regular season, each team’s goals progress as the weeks pass and if you’re good enough to survive and make the grade, the situation changes. The comparison can be made with the life cycle of a butterfly going through stages from egg to larva to caterpillar, cocoon and in the end to a bright and colourful creature that emerges from darkness i

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    STEALING THE CATS’ CREAM by George On The Outer

    They were leading by 44 points well into the third quarter of a game to decide the minor premier, having kicked nine unanswered goals. The Cats were about to lap up their bowl of cream, dreaming of next week but the Demons led by Max Gawn had other ideas. In a stunning finish, they stole the game from under them to claim the plaudits as best team and top of ladder position. In a remarkable game, it all came down to Max having to kick the winning goal after the final siren, something which s

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    SKIN THE CATS by Whispering Jack

    The task ahead for the Demons as they wend their way down the Princes Freeway to Geelong on Saturday night will be to skin the Cats. For them to come away with the points from this game would mark an historic occasion for the club as it will finish on top of the ladder for the first time since its last premiership year, 1964. And it was in that year, that a trip to Corio Bay to meet the reigning premiers in Round 12, was one of the catalysts for Melbourne’s surge to the flag. It was a top o

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    REACH FOR THE STARS by George on the Outer

    It was a game of great significance for the Melbourne Football Club. A win would see them keep top spot on the ladder with one round remaining. To achieve top place in the Round for Reach when we are all inspired to “Be Like Jim” and reach for the stars was a great way of honouring one of our heroes. All the better given that it was done by way of an emphatic 41 point win against Adelaide! It is worth remembering that, but for the umpiring mistake in the previous encounter with the Crows, t

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    TICKETS PLEASE by The Oracle

    A lot of water has passed under Princes Bridge in the five years since Melbourne last met Adelaide on the MCG. The Crows were riding high at the time while the Demons were mid-table and scrambling for a win to stay in the race for the finals. The 30,000 fans who had tickets to the game were thoroughly entertained by a close, high scoring affair that ended in tears for fans of the home team. Not even an eight-goal second term could help them.   Times have changed.    In the fi

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    ELECTRIFYING by George On The Outer

    What more can they throw at the Demons of 2021? Covid restrictions, hubs, aircraft circling between airports before landing for games and now a match stopped for 30 minutes to give a flagging opponent its second wind? To date, none of those distractions has swayed the team from their winning objectives. The game against West Coast in Perth can be marked on their report card as another positive outcome after yet another test. There was much at stake for both sides.  Melbourne had t

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    LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY by Whispering Jack

    When the combatants that are due to face off on Monday night at Optus Stadium last met, it was 11 days after the World Health Organization had declared the Covid19 outbreak a global pandemic. In Australia, the first cases had just come to light, including visiting US actors Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, the toilet paper panic was in full flight and the world was starting to reel in anticipation of impending disaster. Half an hour before this last game of the opening round was due to comme

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