Is Carlton’s golden era looking Blue?
There is an aura of promise surrounding the new Carlton following the horrors of the early 21st century. The stench of John Elliot’s cigarettes has been cleaned out, Dick Pratt’s cash is in the kitty, and the side is full of potential superstars.
But how often is that word – potential – wheeled out in footy?
St Kilda had potential in 2003. Fremantle had potential in 2004. Look at the mess they have created for themselves.
Carlton have potential in 2009.
There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between these three “potential” eras, particularly between the St Kilda side circa 2003 and the current Carlton outfit, an abundance of high draft picks to begin with.
The St Kilda side currently features no less than four top-two draft selections: Riewoldt, Koschitzke, Goddard and Ball. Carlton now have Kreuzer (Pick #1), Gibbs (#1), Murphy (#1), Walker (#2) and, of course, Chris Judd (#3).
Sure, St Kilda got within a kick of the eventual premier in 2004, Port Adelaide. But they haven’t looked like seriously challenging again since, despite predictions of an era of dominance.
Instead, Sydney, West Coast, Geelong and Hawthorn have hoisted the flag on the biggest stage of them all. And what do these sides have in common? Not one of them bottomed out for draft picks.
On the field, both sides are strikingly similar, also, with skilled, diverse and experienced midfields – St Kilda with Harvey, Ball, Dal Santo and Hayes; Carlton with Judd, Stevens, Gibbs and Murphy – “sexy” forward lines with big marking players like Riewoldt and Fevola.
But in both cases defence has been forgotten by those predicting premiership glory.
St Kilda was reliant on an injury-riddled defence in 2004, where it missed the Grand Final by 6 points, which was still the eighth best defence in the league.
You can’t win Premierships with the eighth best defence in the league. Last season, Carlton were thirteenth for defence.
And I can’t see where the improvement will come from this year.
Essentially, Carlton, for all the superstars it may have over the next few years, is imbalanced. It’s like a work of art without a frame.
It is why Richmond are much better placed than Carlton to seriously challenge.
Sure, Carlton with pre-season form and in its current state, will probably beat Richmond in Thursday night’s blockbuster season opener. But the Tiges have more growth in them and will be better placed in two years time.