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Game plans, tactics and all that jazz


binman
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On 8/20/2020 at 4:19 PM, A F said:

Thanks for letting us know about what was said mate.

I'd just debate the bolded part. I don't think that's how Goodwin wants to play anymore. That was definitely how we played in 2018 and for parts of 2019 (if not all). I reckon since the Port game, we've been looking to score akin to on the counter, from mostly choking up the opposition, forcing them to go down the line and in the best case scenarios using the ball back through the corridor or around the opposition boundary line. 

I absolutely agree that turnovers in forward half are still an important trait, but I reckon we value turn overs in the back half/intercepts to mount attacks from half back or deep. 

IMV, Goodwin's changed the system this year and it just hasn't clicked since around the Hawthorn or Brisbane game.

It's interesting, while forward half turnovers can be great as it keeps the ball in your half and hopefully catches defenses off guard allowing you to easily pick off through the zone it also means your forward line is extremely crowded generally with anywhere between 28-36 players in there. This makes it exceptionally difficult to score especially for teams like us who are not highly skilled. Back half turnovers allow you to spread the opposition defence before slingshotting as well as catching them off guard running forward meaning you can generally get over the zone quicker and have greater space in your forward line.

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On 8/20/2020 at 9:38 PM, A F said:

Nice article, mate.

The first bit jumped out to me was this:

"It’s not counterattacking as such, but Flick’s approach is very characteristic of the modern Bundesliga, a game based in transitions. It is certainly not based on control: just as Barcelona created chances by getting behind the defensive line on Friday, so too did Lyon."

In other words, the German league has shifted from control to transitions. I think it's fascinating to chart international sports and how trends in one game become very much trends in others. Perhaps it's mere coincidence, but I can't help but think that AFL coaches are connected with the international environment and are viewing their own 'brand' in these sorts of broad brush strokes such as 'transition' versus 'control'. 

Likewise, I have no doubt that forward coaches and forwards think about space in the following way:

"Müller didn’t touch the ball in the immediate buildup to any of the three goals. Statistically his contribution didn’t register. And yet his movement was integral to each goal. It was his run to the near post that dragged Marçal away from Robert Lewandowski in the heart of the box in the build-up to the second. It was he who was fouled, having regained possession, late on high up the pitch, to win the free-kick for the third."

It absolutely equally applies to our game. The clever movement of forwards coming up the ground, double back, and leading away from and to certain dangerous areas in the forward 50. To the casual eye some of it may look ordinary, but the more you realise how the forwards interact and the importance of space when you have zone defences, the more you realise some stats are immeasurable. 

It's not a like for like, but Jack Riewoldt's rise in 2017 from selfish but high scoring FF -> to middle of the road scorer but integral target within Richmond's game style (bringing the ball to ground for surging smalls), is exactly this idea. You don't have to be kicking goals or marking it, or even going anywhere near the ball to be impacting on any one play.

Jackson showed this in the Adelaide game where he stepped across in front of Talia to block him and allow Weideman to read. That's overt and clever game sense and body use. The operations of the rest of the forwardline would only be known to those within the walls of a football club.

I guess what we're seeing is an evolution of the modern AFL role player and AVB fits this nicely too.

This is something that did my head in for years. You'd watch Melbourne forwards just standing around stagnant I assume because they either didn't have the inclination or tank to work hard or, more likely, they were only thinking about how THEY could win the ball - if there was no clear path ahead of them to lead into they wouldn't bother because their teammate was not going to kick it to them amongst multiple opposition players. What I wanted to see was forwards and mids leading up to their kicking teammate particularly when they knew they WOULDN'T win the ball in order to create space behind them for their teammates to work in. It requires a high level of workrate, I guess it's the attacking version of "running both ways".

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I wonder whether coaches are getting much of a chance to go and watch opposition teams play live this year. As in the OP one of the premises of the thread is that you can't really understand the modern game just from watching on TV. If coaches are being prohibited from watching their opposition live this year it may provide an opportunity for some teams/tactics/structures to slip under the radar.

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So today was a very good example of what happens to the systems and zones when the work rate isn't up to scratch.

How many of you think that it's incumbent on the coach to shift things in game versus trusting the systems will right themselves and empowering the players to lift their performance in order for things to be successful?

It's an interesting question, because I'm inclined to think if you're going to play a system that relies on pressure, if the players don't bring it, there's really no amount of flicking the magnets around that will change the result.

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9 hours ago, A F said:

So today was a very good example of what happens to the systems and zones when the work rate isn't up to scratch.

How many of you think that it's incumbent on the coach to shift things in game versus trusting the systems will right themselves and empowering the players to lift their performance in order for things to be successful?

It's an interesting question, because I'm inclined to think if you're going to play a system that relies on pressure, if the players don't bring it, there's really no amount of flicking the magnets around that will change the result.

I’m basically with you, but flexibility is a desirable trait; when a game is going down the poo hole, plug the hole with X, Y or Z. 

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13 hours ago, A F said:

So today was a very good example of what happens to the systems and zones when the work rate isn't up to scratch.

How many of you think that it's incumbent on the coach to shift things in game versus trusting the systems will right themselves and empowering the players to lift their performance in order for things to be successful?

It's an interesting question, because I'm inclined to think if you're going to play a system that relies on pressure, if the players don't bring it, there's really no amount of flicking the magnets around that will change the result.

Why don't they bring it though?  Until the game is played and coached by robots the issue will always be more complicated than the 'system'.   A good game  plan can look decidedly crappy if the players don't understand it or aren't invested in it.  Are ours? 

To me Goodwin is a very poor match day coach because he has poor situational awareness - he reacts far too late to what is unfolding before him.  We had one of our poorest defensive quarters for the year off the back of a 7 point half time lead  and three wins in a row where we'd smashed teams in second halves due to our conditioning - where was our momentum going into the second half? 

Two minutes into the 3rd quarter it was obvious there was a fire in the kitchen - a coach with good situational awareness would have reacted instinctively - an even better one would have understood and  anticipated what would happen next. - Bevo was always going to try something new and it had to start with Pressure - christ we saw it in the pre-game coverage with his boxing theme (get off the canvas and go again).  The Bulldogs game plan falls apart under pressure - the third quarter had to be our highest pressure quarter of the year if we were going to win, it was one of our poorest.  This is a rare occasion where I actually don't think this is about the players, I think its about the preparation and mindset and that is specifically on the coach. 

 Flipping magnets is a euphemism for a "Hail Mary",  it isn't about flipping magnets its about arresting the oppositions momentum - something Goody has a very poor track record with. 

Edited by grazman
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6 hours ago, Grr-owl said:

I’m basically with you, but flexibility is a desirable trait; when a game is going down the poo hole, plug the hole with X, Y or Z. 

What would you plug the hole with though? As an example. Is it positional changes or tweaks to the systems around the ball?

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2 hours ago, grazman said:

Why don't they bring it though?  Until the game is played and coached by robots the issue will always be more complicated than the 'system'.   A good game  plan can look decidedly crappy if the players don't understand it or aren't invested in it.  Are ours? 

To me Goodwin is a very poor match day coach because he has poor situational awareness - he reacts far too late to what is unfolding before him.  We had one of our poorest defensive quarters for the year off the back of a 7 point half time lead  and three wins in a row where we'd smashed teams in second halves due to our conditioning - where was our momentum going into the second half? 

Two minutes into the 3rd quarter it was obvious there was a fire in the kitchen - a coach with good situational awareness would have reacted instinctively - an even better one would have understood and  anticipated what would happen next. - Bevo was always going to try something new and it had to start with Pressure - christ we saw it in the pre-game coverage with his boxing theme (get off the canvas and go again).  The Bulldogs game plan falls apart under pressure - the third quarter had to be our highest pressure quarter of the year if we were going to win, it was one of our poorest.  This is a rare occasion where I actually don't think this is about the players, I think its about the preparation and mindset and that is specifically on the coach. 

 Flipping magnets is a euphemism for a "Hail Mary",  it isn't about flipping magnets its about arresting the oppositions momentum - something Goody has a very poor track record with. 

Whilst I agree it's somewhat incumbent on a coach to get his players up, are you really suggesting that Goodwin didn't propose pressure would be important for the second half, just as it was in the first half?

I think Goodwin is still trying to match or balance his stubbornness of commitment to a brand and his stubbornness to the right mix righting itself on game day. 

I agree that he can seem reactionary in his match committee selections, but his game day coaching philosophy is the defensive system will keep us close enough and if the mids and forwards work hard enough, we'll get enough of a look in at the other end.

Half way through the last quarter we had more scoring shots than them even though they'd thoroughly outworked the majority of our team for most of the day. This speaks to your point about the vulnerability of the Bulldogs system. Their work rate had to be through the roof and even then their turn overs by foot were giving us chances to hurt them going the other way, but our guys either weren't converting our ample chances or working hard enough to defend.

I think in time Goodwin will learn to be more flexible and loosen that stubbornness that I mention above, but that often comes with experience and knowing when and where you can afford to be flexible vis a vis either your system or positionally.

 

Edited by A F
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4 hours ago, grazman said:

Why don't they bring it though?  

For me this is the critical question.

Goody and bevo are the perfect example of my type one and type two coaches.

With type one being fully committed tho their system (eg Longmire, Buckley and goodwin) and making few big changes on game day.

And type two having a system of course but being more flexible and focused on responding to the opposition strengths and weakness. And much more likely to make structural and positional changes.   

The problem with type one is every  player has to buy in for it to work. Maybe they thought they did yesterday but it was clear our defensive and forward pressure was appalling. pretty much for the whole game (it improved in the last). 

So leaving aside march day coaching for me the critical questions i why weren't the players ready.

Of course the players have personal responsibility for being ready but in team sports there is another intangible aspect - the collective enegery of the team

And graz i'm with you on this - it is the job of the coach to have his charges ready. Preparation plays a roles but it is also where the ability to motivate comes. I'll bet Bevo has this ability. it was on did play yesterday i reckon. Does goody?

Twice in big games we have failed to be ready. To be honest the failure this time was worse than against Port, because we had a seven day break and then Port experience to learn from. And still came out flat.

And worst of all we came out flat after half time.  That speaks to me of a coach who struggles to find a way to motivate - to get his players to dig deep deep and push though the barrier, to commit to the system, to gut run, to tackle, to harass.

Too often this year that effort has come n the last quarter when scoreboard pressure does the job of motivating - just as it again seemed to yesterday.  

Another  issue raised its ugly head yesterday. And that was on field leadership. Who in the third said enough, i am going to stand up and gut run, tackle like a crazy man, kick a goal against the run.

Instead we got our stand in captain giving utterly pathetic 50 and looking a petulant teenager. That was the only time i got really angry in that game as i knew that 4 goals was likely going to be bridge too far.

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12 minutes ago, binman said:

Instead we got our stand in captain giving utterly pathetic 50 and looking a petulant teenager.

Sorry to interrupt the flow Binman, but Viney was Captain yesterday - but everything else I agree with.  

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18 hours ago, A F said:

So today was a very good example of what happens to the systems and zones when the work rate isn't up to scratch.

How many of you think that it's incumbent on the coach to shift things in game versus trusting the systems will right themselves and empowering the players to lift their performance in order for things to be successful?

It's an interesting question, because I'm inclined to think if you're going to play a system that relies on pressure, if the players don't bring it, there's really no amount of flicking the magnets around that will change the result.

That's a given. 

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IMO the biggest problem yesterday was that the Dogs generated their scores precisely in the way you would have imagined them to prior to the game. They came in with a plan and executed it. Whatever plan we went in with didn't work.

It's OK to back your own system in but sometimes you have to acknowledge the strengths of the opposition and look at ways to set up to counter that. We should have known they would rely on Daniel's kicking, Johannisen's run, and their relative speed to move the ball. We should have known they are league leaders for generating scores from their defensive 50. We should, and I'm sure did, know all of that, but whatever we decided to do to counter it didn't work. Add to that their tactic of repeat switches (not sure if that's a standard ploy from them or something they came up with deliberately for us) and there were a whole host of things they did that we couldn't stop.

I'm convinced part of it was on the players because we saw old habits creeping back in. Dinky handballs in tight and Viney trying to break tackles and kicking without looking are two classic signs of Goodwin's Melbourne struggling with pressure. But I'm also convinced we should have had considered how to set up across the ground to limit their run, and when they were switching it repeatedly from the first quarter, that's also something we should have adjusted to. Backing in our system to the hilt, even when it's not working, is a flaw.

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28 minutes ago, binman said:

For me this is the critical question.

Goody and bevo are the perfect example of my type one and type two coaches.

With type one being fully committed tho their system (eg Longmire, Buckley and goodwin) and making few big changes on game day.

And type two having a system of course but being more flexible and focused on responding to the opposition strengths and weakness. And much more likely to make structural and positional changes.   

The problem with type one is every  player has to buy in for it to work. Maybe they thought they did yesterday but it was clear our defensive and forward pressure was appalling. pretty much for the whole game (it improved in the last). 

So leaving aside march day coaching for me the critical questions i why weren't the players ready.

Of course the players have personal responsibility for being ready but in team sports there is another intangible aspect - the collective enegery of the team

And graz i'm with you on this - it is the job of the coach to have his charges ready. Preparation plays a roles but it is also where the ability to motivate comes. I'll bet Bevo has this ability. it was on did play yesterday i reckon. Does goody?

Twice in big games we have failed to be ready. To be honest the failure this time was worse than against Port, because we had a seven day break and then Port experience to learn from. And still came out flat.

And worst of all we came out flat after half time.  That speaks to me of a coach who struggles to find a way to motivate - to get his players to dig deep deep and push though the barrier, to commit to the system, to gut run, to tackle, to harass.

Too often this year that effort has come n the last quarter when scoreboard pressure does the job of motivating - just as it again seemed to yesterday.  

Another  issue raised its ugly head yesterday. And that was on field leadership. Who in the third said enough, i am going to stand up and gut run, tackle like a crazy man, kick a goal against the run.

Instead we got our stand in captain giving utterly pathetic 50 and looking a petulant teenager. That was the only time i got really angry in that game as i knew that 4 goals was likely going to be bridge too far.

Great post.

Where's Viney's leadership in all of this?

I agree wholeheartedly with @Patches O’houlihan that we can't play Viney in the midfield mix. I can be convinced by @Pollyanna that moving him forward and enabling him to go to forward stoppages could be a good thing. I just think out of the middle he's a liability. 

The two standout possession for Viney yesterday were two kicks inside 50. The first one to Fritsch, where he lead to the wrong pocket and missed on a tight angle amongst the swirling breeze. The other was a shallow move barely inside 50 to Oliver, who failed to make the distance into the wind. 

The rest of the time, he worked hard, but undid his good work with poor possessions or upset the balance of the midfield by being sucked in to everything.

I think the club has to make a strong call here. Either Viney plays the majority forward or we let him walk via FA.

Many will disagree with me on here, but the evidence is mounting. Maybe it'll take a new coach to make the hard call?

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Bontempelli was brought into the game by our guys tapping it to him in the ruck (Preuss),  hand passing to him and even kicking it directly to him (Petracca). Nobody was tagging him or even remotely keeping close to him. He was allowed to run free and win the game! This should have been a focus of the coaches before the game started and during the game.

Edited by Coq au vin
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9 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

IMO the biggest problem yesterday was that the Dogs generated their scores precisely in the way you would have imagined them to prior to the game. They came in with a plan and executed it. Whatever plan we went in with didn't work.

It's OK to back your own system in but sometimes you have to acknowledge the strengths of the opposition and look at ways to set up to counter that. We should have known they would rely on Daniel's kicking, Johannisen's run, and their relative speed to move the ball. We should have known they are league leaders for generating scores from their defensive 50. We should, and I'm sure did, know all of that, but whatever we decided to do to counter it didn't work.

I still think we backed our system to do more damage than theirs. And to be honest, had we kicked straight, our defensive system and set ups still would have been a major factor for the win.

Our system has always broken down if we let half backs run freely. When we're on song, our half forwards are crunching those running half backs and making them kick down the line or turning it over in the corridor or at our half forward. Without that, these half backs can create attacks.

The bigger question is why weren't our mids and half forwards creating this pressure?

9 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

Add to that their tactic of repeat switches (not sure if that's a standard ploy from them or something they came up with deliberately for us) and there were a whole host of things they did that we couldn't stop.

I reckon they knew they couldn't keep going down the line to contests, because on reset we'd win clearance. We'd also mauled sides the previous three games who refused to switch. Our work rate against Collingwood applied yesterday would have prevented these switches and enabled us to slingshot back or control possession leading back towards our own goal. Given our midfield dominance, we would have been able to control the game.

I think they couldn't believe their luck at how easy the first switch was and just kept going to it because it was clear we weren't working hard enough.

9 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

I'm convinced part of it was on the players because we saw old habits creeping back in. Dinky handballs in tight and Viney trying to break tackles and kicking without looking are two classic signs of Goodwin's Melbourne struggling with pressure. But I'm also convinced we should have had considered how to set up across the ground to limit their run, and when they were switching it repeatedly from the first quarter, that's also something we should have adjusted to. Backing in our system to the hilt, even when it's not working, is a flaw.

I think this is all work rate though. The zone moves across the ground naturally when we're on song and so it prevents the switch. It strangles teams eventually and with our alleged fitness (and I say alleged because we looked sloppy yesterday and tired), this should be repeatable within game and from week to week.

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5 minutes ago, A F said:

I still think we backed our system to do more damage than theirs. And to be honest, had we kicked straight, our defensive system and set ups still would have been a major factor for the win.

Our system has always broken down if we let half backs run freely. When we're on song, our half forwards are crunching those running half backs and making them kick down the line or turning it over in the corridor or at our half forward. Without that, these half backs can create attacks.

The bigger question is why weren't our mids and half forwards creating this pressure?

I reckon they knew they couldn't keep going down the line to contests, because on reset we'd win clearance. We'd also mauled sides the previous three games who refused to switch. Our work rate against Collingwood applied yesterday would have prevented these switches and enabled us to slingshot back or control possession leading back towards our own goal. Given our midfield dominance, we would have been able to control the game.

I think they couldn't believe their luck at how easy the first switch was and just kept going to it because it was clear we weren't working hard enough.

I think this is all work rate though. The zone moves across the ground naturally when we're on song and so it prevents the switch. It strangles teams eventually and with our alleged fitness (and I say alleged because we looked sloppy yesterday and tired), this should be repeatable within game and from week to week.

IMO it would have been our offensive work which would have won us the game, not our defensive work.

We were defending poorly (Goodwin has admitted as much) but we were generating scores all the same. If we had kicked straight, it would have been our scoring potency exploiting the Dogs' major weakness (defence).

I agree with the reality that when our forward pressure is off opposition sides get on top of us. I'm sure that's the same for all 18 clubs. What was different about yesterday was that our defending of our defensive half was not at the level it has been in recent weeks. IMO that's in part due to the switches spreading our zone and it breaking down (as well as work rate).

I agree it's partly work rate, but I also think we weren't able to counter the Dogs' natural game style nor their tendency to switch and spread us mid-game. 

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There’s a bunch of intelligent stuff being said here. And I reckon it’s fundamentally all correct; we’re all just ruminating over the details.

We need to play consistently at a high level of energy to produce the work rate that applies the pressure that is the key to Goody’s system. When the fire doesn’t burn bright, as in yesterday, everything goes awry and Goody doesn’t appear (and that may be just an appearance) to ring any changes to do anything about it.

Before the game, I thought the dogs looked really up and about and we looked a little flat. Knew then we could be in trouble. But, at half time, I backed the fact that we were in front to mean that we had the grit to pull us through. Woops. No grit.

What I find myself thinking again and again at these times when we get busted open is that the team doesn’t seem to realise it. Part of me says that’s got to be bollocks, but it keeps happening so another part of me insists it isn’t. Team psychology is weird; there are days when you just ain’t got it. But the best sporting teams have a player who can rise above the psychological milieu and spark a fire, a change. Cotchin does it for Richmond. Remember when Warne came on to bowl, or when Richards came in to bat? Didn’t matter the situation, it was a new game.

We don’t have a tool, a match metaphorically, on the ground or in the box that can spark a fire. Maybe one will develop...

Edited by Grr-owl
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56 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

IMO it would have been our offensive work which would have won us the game, not our defensive work.

Absolutely. Agreed. I worded my previous point poorly.

56 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

We were defending poorly (Goodwin has admitted as much) but we were generating scores all the same. If we had kicked straight, it would have been our scoring potency exploiting the Dogs' major weakness (defence).

This speaks to the strength of the defensive system we've built IMO.

56 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

I agree with the reality that when our forward pressure is off opposition sides get on top of us. I'm sure that's the same for all 18 clubs. What was different about yesterday was that our defending of our defensive half was not at the level it has been in recent weeks. IMO that's in part due to the switches spreading our zone and it breaking down (as well as work rate).

Switching definitely helps spread the zone, but if the defending team is on its game and works hard, the zone moves with the ball to close up space and prevents the opposition from launch an adequate attack inside 50.

56 minutes ago, titan_uranus said:

I agree it's partly work rate, but I also think we weren't able to counter the Dogs' natural game style nor their tendency to switch and spread us mid-game. 

I agree we weren't able to pressure their mids on the outside anywhere near enough. Bontempelli had heaps of space almost every time. Our mids were getting sucked into the contest without thought for the outside and I wouldn't be surprised if whoever played on Vanders dragged him away from the contest where possible. I don't recall him impacting the contest very often.

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21 hours ago, A F said:

So today was a very good example of what happens to the systems and zones when the work rate isn't up to scratch.

How many of you think that it's incumbent on the coach to shift things in game versus trusting the systems will right themselves and empowering the players to lift their performance in order for things to be successful?

It's an interesting question, because I'm inclined to think if you're going to play a system that relies on pressure, if the players don't bring it, there's really no amount of flicking the magnets around that will change the result.

I said it in the post match thread, but for me it is starting to seem like a structural issue rather than a workrate issue. It can't just be coincidence that we falter en masse in our workrate when we come up against the better sides. It's happened enough now where it's got to be looked at as more than just a workrate/effort issue (Haw, Coll, WCE 2018, WCE, Port and Dogs 2020)

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24 minutes ago, Dr. Gonzo said:

I said it in the post match thread, but for me it is starting to seem like a structural issue rather than a workrate issue. It can't just be coincidence that we falter en masse in our workrate when we come up against the better sides. It's happened enough now where it's got to be looked at as more than just a workrate/effort issue (Haw, Coll, WCE 2018, WCE, Port and Dogs 2020)

Fair enough mate. We'll agree to disagree on that. 

Port, for me, was clearly a game where we didn't turn up. Yesterday, the midfield was terrible and the forwardline didn't bring enough pressure. The corralling from the previous weeks was gone. I'd love to get some stats on the 1%ers too. As for our ball use in the West Coast game, it was utterly pathetic. 

I know it's frustrating, but I think we're still learning what it takes. I had hoped it had clicked going into this game. I did say I thought we'd put in 1 or 2 more stinkers this season like every other team is dishing up too. Just thought this would come a bit later in the season. 

Edited by A F
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3 hours ago, A F said:

Great post.

Where's Viney's leadership in all of this?

I agree wholeheartedly with @Patches O’houlihan that we can't play Viney in the midfield mix. I can be convinced by @Pollyanna that moving him forward and enabling him to go to forward stoppages could be a good thing. I just think out of the middle he's a liability. 

The two standout possession for Viney yesterday were two kicks inside 50. The first one to Fritsch, where he lead to the wrong pocket and missed on a tight angle amongst the swirling breeze. The other was a shallow move barely inside 50 to Oliver, who failed to make the distance into the wind. 

The rest of the time, he worked hard, but undid his good work with poor possessions or upset the balance of the midfield by being sucked in to everything.

I think the club has to make a strong call here. Either Viney plays the majority forward or we let him walk via FA.

Many will disagree with me on here, but the evidence is mounting. Maybe it'll take a new coach to make the hard call?

I agree with Viney spending time forward. Yesterday particularly it needed his tackling pressure, with the other medium/small forwards being totally ineffective in stopping the rapid exits from our F 50.

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For all my defence of Goodwin today, I will say that the stoppage set ups hurt us. This has been a consistent theme when we lose. Teams carve us up on the outside and occasionally when we're on, the 'slider'/extra pushing into the contest to support or pressure is able to stop this, but there's too much margin for error.

This is why I'd be up for a bit of a refresh with Benny Mathews moving on and seeing what a fresh set of eyes could bring our midfield group. Or maybe it's not even replacing Mathews, just merely adding a stoppages coach to the mix.

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    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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    Match Reports

    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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    Match Previews

    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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    Casey Articles

    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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    Match Reports

    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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    Match Previews

    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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    Match Reports

    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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    Match Previews

    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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    Match Reports

    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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    Match Previews

    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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    Match Reports

    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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    Match Previews

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