Ok so which AFL clubs will miss the finals?
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In part one of my previews of the 2011 AFL season, let’s have a look at the bottom nine by using the crystal ball and predict where they will finish.
17th: West Coast (last season 16th)
Looking at their squad, it’s hard to see much improvement coming from them. The Eagles are still a team in rebuilding phase with players such as Cox, Kerr and Glass still the mainstays in a young side.
There are positives with the LeCras, Kennedy forward line looking very dangerous. Even though they have some good forwards, there is not enough talent around the whole park for the Eagles to move forward.
16th: Gold Coast Suns (debut)
The new kids on the block have chocks of young talent mixed with some very good experienced players. Kids like Matera, Caddy and Lynch mixed with Brown, Bock and a bloke called Ablett make this list look very promising. However, there is a big gap between the young and the experienced and this will stop the club from being a runaway success next year.
But watch out in a few years for the Suns.
15th: Essendon (last season 14th)
Despite their good form in the NAB Cup, Essendon have a tough season ahead under James Hird. Still yet to replace Lloyd and Lucas, they will struggle up forward to kick goals. The Bombers midfield has some pace to burn but a little bit of inexperience in it. Hird is the supposed “saviour” of the club; this will be put to the test and it will be tough for him.
14th: Brisbane Lions (last season 13th)
A horror 12 months will continue. Michael Voss’ side is going to pay for the Brendon Fevola trade debacle. After sacrificing the kids in 2009 for a premiership side in 2010, the Lions have a lot of rebuilding to do. Power and Black need to have apprentices under them because time is coming up on their careers and Brown can’t do everything.
If things don’t go well, expect Voss to be chopped.
13th: Richmond (last season 15th)
Will continue their up and down form from the last six months of 2010. Brimming with talent and ready to enliven, Damien Hardwick has some good talent to have a crack at the big clubs and maybe cause a few upsets along the way. 2011 will be a roller coaster for the club; there will be highs and lows but it’ll be lots of fun.
Like the Gold Coast, they will be at their peak in the future.
12th: Port Adelaide (last season 10th)
A changing of the guard has happened with Primus in and Williams and Tredrea out. Primus brings hope to a club embarrassed by the last few years. Port has some quality young players in Hartlett and Boak, who are lacking a lot of game time due to injury in 2010. If they can get going it will make a big difference to the side.
Again, like most sides in the bottom nine, they are in a rebuilding phase and it’s not their year.
11th: North Melbourne (last season 9th)
Brad Scott demanded change and he got it with the club many expected to flop nearly making the finals. Greenwood, Ziebell and Grima coupled with stalwart Harvey, Scott Thompson and Daniel Wells give this team a lot of grunt.
However, the club is a solid rather than spectacular team and they lack a bit of razzle dazzle like the top eight to be a finals side.
10th: Carlton (last season 8th)
Bundled out in the first week of finals two years running, the pressure is on the Blues in 2011. After years of trying, the Blues finally got a forward line not dependent on one man working. Chris Judd still carries too much of the midfield load and this precludes the team from being successful.
The defence is still too leaky for the Blues to challenge. Ratten is under pressure and out of contract and will be desperate for a successful 2011 and a bad start could see him punted.
9th: Melbourne (last season 12th)
It pains me to leave Melbourne out of the top eight but I have to. It is coming close to their time but just not yet. Scully, Watts and Jurrah are going to have big seasons and the Demons will give the good clubs a scare.
After years of pain, they are coming good but not yet. Their young players still have a lot of inconsistency about them that needs another year to eradicate.
It pains me to do this.
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