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  1. Does our game plan bring the best out of our list? This press trying to keep the ball in our attacking half to create forward half turnovers isn't working for us, it creates congestion helping the opposition defend. Our talls think bringing the ball to ground is a "win" then we get smashed at the ground ball. Quick turnovers against us and we are out of position, the opposition score easily. With the best ruckman in the comp. A young talented midfield group, and a back 6 as good as any we should be spreading the ground making it hard for opposition to score and opening up our forward line especially considering we have injuries to key talls. Put Trac in the goal square open up the 50 with Fritsch and a rotating Gawn and Jackson leading into space and we can kick a score in the early rounds. I fear if Goody is stubborn on his Game plan especially with a underdone midfield we will at best be 1 and 4 season over by round 5. He has to adapt to whose available I can just see it loose to Freo first up and the wheels will fall off.
  2. Why did we fail to make the finals last season? Many attribute it to the last round loss to Collingwood, and/or the poor performance against Brisbane the week prior. I also recall three narrow losses near the start of the season that were faulted at selection, such as the naming’s JKH and a premature Weideman. We’ve also argued the regular overuse of the handball, as well as single quarter fadeouts. I guess there’s no right or wrong answer and it’s in the past. However, it was clear we all wanted improvements in these areas, so the question is now, have they been made? Let’s start with selection. Many of us were gobsmacked with the naming’s of Wagner and Maynard over Brayshaw and Tyson. Additional, some of us questioned the omission of Frost when facing the well-built Hawkins and Taylor. Consequently, Wagner’s first half was atrocious, where on three separate occasions he made foolish errors, including a missed tackle, a failed pick-up, and arguably a failed spoil, which cost us goals. His second half was better, although, I still consider him a liability. Next were our tall backs. On too many occasions O.McDonald got man-handled by Hawkins. Granted, he and Lever did a good job curbing his influence, although, things may have been different if Taylor didn’t go off early. Thus, I still can’t fathom the omission of Frost. Additionally, did we or did we not target Lever for his innate ability to leave his man to spoil or intercept a mark for a defensive rebound (we saw very little of this yesterday)? If so, why is Lever playing as the second tall? At Adelaide he played as the third behind Talia and Keath/Hartigan so he could do what he does best. The coaching panel have and tendency to create non-beneficial miss-matches (before and during game day). I hope the basic concepts of opposition analysis and player selection improve by next week. Now the game plan. Time and time again we’re reminded we’re to play a contested brand of football. That’s great, but what about the other half of non-contested football and efficient transitions from one end of the ground to the other? Yesterday, we won the contested possession and tackling pressure counts, yet Geelong destroyed us on the spread where they continually hit one-another lace out on the chest. Conversely, we continually, instead of overusing the handball like last year, opted to flood an end or side and bomb it to a contest (out of fifty, down the wing, inside fifty). How do we expect to make a tilt for finals if we can’t spread and hit lead up targets by foot (this was also an issue last year)? We’ve got that very large MCG to call our own, and yet we don’t use it appropriately. Instead every goal is made difficult. If given the space we’ll see far more from the less contested players such as Hunt, Melksham, Hannan, and Garlett. Dare I say it will be interesting to watch Watts with more space at Port Adelaide. If what we saw yesterday was the game plan it is far too one-dimensional, far too inefficient and tiring, and needs to be supplemented. If not I expect more single quarter fadeouts and subsequent losses. What are your thoughts and arguments? For me these need to improve above all else as I genuinely believe we have a list that on its day can beat any other to a flag.
  3. It continues to be said time and time again. Melbourne overuses the footy by handball. Sometimes MFC finds a way to still win (v. Blues) but in other games (v Freo and Hawks) it leads to losses. Against the Hawks on the weekend Quarter time. 40 kicks, 72 handballs. Half time. 95 kicks. 137 handballs. Full time. 193 kicks. 237 handballs. 430 posessions v. Hawks 355 (218 kicks 137 handballs) Oliver 4 kicks 24 handballs Viney 12 kicks 20 handballs Lewis 11 kicks 19 handballs Tyson 10 kicks 18 handballs Sure they are inside mids but their overuse of handballs even when free of congestion. The circular non effective handballs are frustrating. Even bandballs back into the congestion. Even Jayden Hunt tried to handball rather than kick to position. Gameplan? Is it a lack of foot skills? if yes then it must be addressed. I think not. It is the gameplan. But it is only successful by good decision making. Our players still lack this in the main. Our CONTESTED footy is up with the best in the league. It is our heart and effort each week. It is NOT questionable. The Kangas beat the Crows by quick ball movement, and putting their defence under pressure. Defenders hate 1 on 1s & the Crows defence was exposed. We cannot allow slow handballs to allow them to rotate their mids back. Kangas kicks were about 2:1 ratio to handballs. Sure handball out of a contest but NOT to another contest or someone else under pressure. Memo Simon Goodwin. You have the players. We have the effort. Get the strategy and decision making right and we will be a power. May the discussion begin. Go the mighty Demons.
  4. Did anyone else think that our match with North was a much more enjoyable brand of football than previous weeks? I'd much rather see us kick 14 goals and lose by 30 points instead of kick 4 and keep the opposition to a lower score as well.
  5. In his fourth season Morton, who came to the club as a high first round draft selection, disappointed with poor form and low confidence, struggling to find his place in the side. He is still highly regarded and is expected to improve under the coaching of Mark Neeld and his assistants. Games MFC 2011 14 MFC Total 64 Goals MFC 2011 5 MFC Total 31 Games CSFC 2011 4 Goals CSFC 2011 0
  6. Mark Neeld's revamped side of 2012 has had a refocus over the pre-season, moving away from the fast moving, risk taking but undisciplined and unaccountable football of the Bailey era towards a much more hard-nosed defensive mindset. Neeld has brought in Collingwood's premiership 'press' game-plan and also its key underlying feature - relentless defense. Under Bailey's game plan which mimicked Geelong's run and carry style of play, Melbourne's major concern was its lack of contested possession and inability to stop the bleeding when a team got a run on us, among several other concerns. The central cause of these, which as the game changed towards the press became more obvious was that Melbourne in general but in particularly the midfield and forward line lacked strong and accountable defense. Enter Mark Neeld. Neeld joined the club in late September last year and immediately took a sword to the clubs coaching department. In his first address to the players he spoke bluntly about what he considered absolutely necessary for this club to be successful and what he expects the players to do - which is hard, accountable and contested football (watch it here if you've never seen it: http://www.melbournefc.com.au/dee%20tv/tabid/8667/default.aspx#playvideo its on page 3). And so far this year the Demons have completely changed in regards to game style, they're playing wide to the wings rather than down the corridor, winning the contested possession count and tackling with ferocity. Yet despite these changes on the field the difference in the scoreboard remains the same, in fact you can argue that its significantly worse with big loses against Brisbane and Richmond which are considered winnable games and that the Demons now rest at the bottom of the ladder below AFL babies Gold Coast and GWS. So why hasn't our new hard-nosed game plan changed anything at least in regards to the scoreboard? Is it a lack of talent, ambition or has Neeld already lost the players? Frankly, its none of those and the last one in particular is outrageous. The team in my opinion certainly doesn't lack any talent, players like Jack Watts, Colin Sylvia, James Frawley, Jack Trengove, Jack Grimes, Mitch Clark, Jeremy Howe, Brent Moloney to just name a few, are all incredibly talented and skillful. The lack of ambition and drive argument is always invalid in regards to AFL footballers, if the players didn't want to win games they wouldn't be playing, either by their own choice or the coaches - as Jack Trengove said "I just want the premiership". Our problems are a result of something much simpler - we've stopped running. Comparatively the 2012 Demons side while it is a much more disciplined outfit, lack that spread and hard-running that won us games against Adelaide (98 points), Fremantle (89 points) and Essendon (33 points) last year and Sydney (73 points) the year before - all of which are considered top finals contenders in 2012. This year we're playing accountable defensive football but we don't ever shift from defensive to offensive play to build that momentum shift, we're too worried about our opponents and therefore don't spread off them or take risks. And while this kind of play may be helping Melbourne rectify its contested possession deficiency it's causing severe problems on the other end, as the uncontested possession differential is getting wider and wider. And that's why Melbourne's other major problem of stopping the bleeding is still occurring; you simply cannot win games if you don't have the football. Teams will continue to relentlessly attack if we can't take control of the football for extensive periods of play and stop their momentum. Perhaps it's not all in the game plan though, a severe lack of confidence has spread throughout the club and that's understandable after spending 5 years on the bottom and had almost all of our experienced leaders cut from the side - we've simply forgot how to win games. That's why players such as Bennell, Blease, Watts, Tapscott etc etc are running around in the 2's rather than in the Red and Blue. They have no one who can guide, instruct and protect them in games. It's obvious as well, when a side packs on consecutive goals our heads drop and we don't believe we can win anymore - that's what clearly happened in the second quarter against the Hawks and the third quarter against the Tigers. Lack of confidence in a club is a cancer that will rot the club from inside out and this concern needs to be address quickly. So as I sat and watched with my head in my hands last Friday night as Hawthorn walked all over us, I asked: How do we get our midfield more involved? How do we stop the bleeding? How do we find 100+ more possessions? How do we fix this team? In the end I went to bed angry, depressed and comtemplating the benefits of sucicide. Yet the sun still rose on Saturday morning and after having some breakfast and putting away my length of rope, gun and generic letter to my friends and family (now a weekly ritual) I had calmed down and begun to address some of these questions. And after many hours of contemplation I realised it came down to a matter of simply bringing the run back. All night against Hawthorn we where second to the ball and that's because we've become more concerned with out oppenents more than the ball itself. A primership cannot be won of just one style of play - offensive or defensive - it must have a strong relationship between both. Melbourne under Neeld need to focus on integrating that running system with that hard and accountable defence, which means running both ways (something that we lacked under Bailey). As a result we should not only be first to the ball but also providing greater protection for the ball carrier and that our options up forward should never be stagnate. And when we don't have the ball we can place immense pressure on the opposition and force turnovers, particularly in the forward 50. In order to do this Melbourne players need to, as Mick Malthouse pointed out against Geelong, trust each other to win the one-on-ones and look to spread and generate movement across the field, but more importantly - Neeld needs to trust his players. Neeld and his coaching staff need to stop playing 2-3 of our key midfield players as run-with or tagging roles and allow the Melbourne players to attack, having faith that at the same time to keep their defensive structures and limit the impact of opposition midfielders. He needs to trust that the Melbourne players can play defensively rather than force it because that makes the players self-concsious and second guess themselves. Now this will develop over time. Trust is never something that can be given instantly - it has to be earned. And hopefully we can begin to see this develop over the season. The game plan itself will also take time and that's why I don't expect to see us suddenly 'click' next week and play with a clear and undeniable style that incorporates both hard attacking run and disciplined, accountable defense but I do look towards progress over the season. And that means challenging top-sides, punishing weaker ones, winning tight contests, running harder, winning and controlling the football more and irradicating confidence concerns which means; seeing real belief in the side, not just from us the supporters but from the players themselves. Patience is a characteristic that is crucial to all Melbourne supporters and I have faith in Neeld and the new coaching department but once again I feel it might be a bit of a wait till we see success. But when it does happen, it will be glorious. CARN THE DEMONS!!
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