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  1. There has been a lot of commentary that we have only beaten weaker teams (which is correct, because if we beat them then we are ‘stronger’ on the day...). Personally, I think this is actually a good thing. Here’s why. we tuned up the gameplan over the summer, and the JLT allowed us to implement a version of it and look like top 4 material. we played less than ideal footy and took the points in a couple of games. Playing for 3/4, with a defensive press way too high, Maxy not hitting to advantage and terrible inside 50 connections. we were slaughtered by the Hawks. Wake up call. we played ok versus Richmond. A bit rushed early, but the third quarter was some of th3 toughest contested ball I have seen in footy in a while. so now we have a few ‘easy’ games in a row. Thank god. Over these games we have seen: the back 6 start to work. Lever to begin to show some real skill, and Lewis now being the general. Jetta rediscovered his form. tmac is back and building. Forward connection still needs work, but forward pressure is manic the big 4 have had a couple of games to work together. the midfield are growing. Salem and Angus in particular. viney is about to return. i for one am glad we have had this run to build skill, strategy and structure. The confidence of a few wins now might encourage the team to bring this style, refined and practiced over the ‘easy’ games, into the harder stuff. The coaching staff have made the adjustments and drilled the plan, and the players are seeing the rewards. This little period could be the making of the team. If we went straight into harder contests with no trust in the gameplan or each other, it could have been messy. It sure looks like these games have allowed a different sense to emerge. I am keen to see us kick over the blues, and set ourselves for some more serious challenges that will test our ability to keep playing our game.
  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. A few things have been bugging me this season, don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed the march back to relevance - but there have been some odd missteps and frustrating emanations from the club that won't be solved by Jack Watts being traded... We all have a list of areas that go to explain why we didn't kick to extra goals over the course of the season - that is code for 'missing the finals'... My main ones are: Injuries and fluctuating form of our best 6-8 players (Jones, Gawn, Hogan, Oliver, Viney, Hibberd, Petracca, and T McDonald). The vacuum of leadership at the club The disappointing performance of the coaching staff These latter two bring into focus our fledgling coach Simon Goodwin. Coaching Performance: Tricks, a motivated group, but naivete abounds There is no doubt that he has motivated the core group of players to play a certain way; they play on with abandon, they handpass in tight spaces and trust 'the next man' to not fumble and to 'do their job.' However, this is overbalanced still and we didn't show much progress from the middle of the year to the end of the year in kicking when we were in position to. Sometimes, our forward line was not in position to make the most of a player quickly released by a chain of fantastic handballs; the player would look up and see player hurriedly running back into guarded space and/or expecting a kick so precise only 3 players on our list could hit the target. His 'trick bag' is innovative; the forwards coming off the back of the square threw teams for a loop and I look forward to more innovation and not resting on that move now that the competition has worked it out. This leads me to the forward line - it is schizophrenic - and I appreciate Goodwins ability to make changes at will if something isn't working, I felt like we had so many changes and different structures going forward that we ended up the season with nothing working. Hogan missing isn't an excuse for changing the structure. It's an excuse for that structure to work less efficiently. We would sometimes have a deep presence with smalls beside the tall, and when that didn't work we went 'fwd line is lava no one in the fwd line' with players running back into there. And there were a few setups in between there and while that is unpredictable to the oppo, it is also unpredictable to Tysons left foot... Then there were the two weeks we spent getting beaten by wind... I didn't see much of the NM game in Hobart but I saw the GWS massacre in all its gore. I wrote about it at the time - but the wind at Manuka always goes to the Kingston side pocket and that playing a man behind the football is a fact of life against a good team (the GWS respected us enough to have one in the 2nd term when they were 36 points up...), and yet we threw away our surprise 3 goal start by not only leaving our backs exposed for much of the quarter, but also by playing up the grandstand side of the ground for reasons that are yet to resonate with me. When you go up the grandstand side at Manuka, the wind is a propellant for the opposition to go through the middle of the ground and carve you up. Naivete or arrogance? I don't really care. It was the difference between being in the game and being out of it by quarter time. We had reports of similar play against NM the week before. If a team could drop a coach - those two weeks would seen Goodwin have a stint with Casey... The Vacuum of Goodwin Then there are the more complicated aspects to his persona that I wish he would address, I know he doesn't flame any bad narratives when he speaks - he hardly says anything when he speaks - but he would do well to understand that he can alter narratives for the better that might alleviate public (even if only Dees fans) pressure from certain players (Watts and Oliver come to mind, and of course Watts), prompt responses from those that should shoulder more burden than they do (outside of Watts and Tyson who is to blame for being 9th again?), and, lastly, shore up his own position and leadership (no one is that wooden, and no one that wooden leads anything for very long). Without this - we have a vacuum - Roos filled it quite easily. He would push narratives and could seem self-serving and distracting. And sometimes, that is the point; when talked about the scars and burdens of the past ad nauseum we felt like he was giving the club a continued excuse, but as he outlines in his new book - he was trying to push a creed of patience against the screed of despair that was rife internally. That helped lift the pressure of the players as they relearned how to play proper football. Goodwin seems in-cognisant of this ability, a we got a recent reminder of that with the below clip illustrating an awareness of a damaging narrative: that Watts "is the most talked about player" for someone who is not a core player, not in the leadership group, not in the coaching staff, and not in the administration. Those last points I added myself as Goodwin only stoked the narrative that Watts was worthy of all this attention after our failed 2017 by covering himself by saying he has a good relationship with Jack, mentioning the coaching staff are clear with Jack, and keeping the narrative of 'Watts = Melbourne' fermenting by giving the discussion relevance with the content and tone of his response about his contract and him staying at the club. Goodwin can come out forcefully and protect Jack Watts (or the next saviour) by shifting the focus and sharing the burden around with himself, his staff, the admin, and the leadership group that does very little leading when it comes to the burden of being the public face of the club, and the target of the ire of the club. Lewis does some and Gawn too, but years after Watts revealed himself to be nothing more than a uniquely talented role player, we are still shoving him into the coalface with little hesitation. If the rumours are true that we are shopping him around while at the same time that we are pushing him forward for cringeworthy press spots (https://au.sports.yahoo.com/afl/a/37206220/jack-watts-opens-up-on-2017-season-and-trade-talk/) - then the situation is more dire than I thought. I have heard from a good source that the interpersonal relationships at the club are good - and that gives me some solace, but I sit here and I have no idea who the leader of the club was. Last three years I could tell you who it was - for good or bad - it was Paul Roos. Oddly enough, he shielded the enigmatic blonde kid a couple times and Watts responded. But this year - I haven't heard much from the Admin so it isn't Jackson, it certainly isn't Mahoney or Bartlett. Nathan Jones has been seen and heard, but no more than previous years as captain. A novice coach doesn't have to be as good as Paul Roos - he is a great coach who helped redefine AFL in the professional era - but this novice coach needs to step up and start leading the club and driving the narratives that help his team, his players, and his club. Because, I have only seen or heard one leader since September 1 - and he might be traded next week...
  4. I found it interesting watching Neil Craig in the presser with Essendon. Mark Thompson named Essendon coach as Bombers confirm James Hird won't return to top job in 2014 First, I would like to say I wish him the best success (except against us) and I highly respect him as a coach and teacher of the game. He talks about his role, as development for coaches of the future at their club. I find it interesting him saying it is a role that "groundbreaking, a new role. but starting to evolve at afl clubs at the moment" wonder if he is refering to us at the moment. also find it interesting that there is this role for him at essendon, but not at us. I understand there was no obvious need for him under his former role now that we have Roos with all his experience, but Essendon find space with Thompson as new coach who is just if not more experienced. We have a succession plan in place, perhaps craig in the role he as now at essendon would have proven valuable for us? and then we also would not have had to pay him out(assuming we will do that???) and it takes some pressure off Roos developing "the sucessor" (not to mention that two heads are better than one, whomever Essendon are grooming for the next head coach role will have Craig and Thompson teaching them, a pretty good apprenticeship ... )
  5. Eade has come out and declared he is not interested in coaching. No Roos (if we go on what he has stated), no Eade. How many quality coaches does this leave us to choose from? Is Worsfold a possibility
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