Fremantle Dockers now losing ugly
It was a fairly bright start to the season for the Fremantle Dockers, winning a spirited game against last year’s premiers in front of a packed Subiaco crowd.
While there was still some disquiet about the method by which Mark Harvey had been deposed and Ross Lyon brought in, there a cautious belief that if Lyon bought success to the club he would at least find acceptance.
What has been obvious to the Fremantle fan is the transformation in playing style that Lyon has quickly implemented. Most commentators declaring it St Kilda-like. However, the past few weeks, and in particular the past weekend, have highlighted a grace deficiency in Lyons coaching understanding.
While St Kilda has players developed and available with the skill to implement a closed in, defensive playbook, Fremantles players are not of the same skill set and Lyon has shown little understanding of his own team.
In fact, he admitted as much when he made it clear that in his years at St Kilda he spend little time examining the Dockers players as opposition coach.
Furthermore, the wide open plains at Patterson Stadium are in stark contract to the confinement of Etihad. Is it surprising then that the Dockers most satisfying win of this season came against the Saints, in Melbourne, at the only AFL stadium with a roof.
Despite our dominant ruckman in Sandilands helping us to be ranked first in hitouts per game, Sunday’s derby saw Fremantle post their lowest score ever at Pattersons Stadium.
Against a fired up West Coast, Fremantle were unable to sustain the pressure which saw them head into half-time with scores level at 20 points each, despite West Coast having double the scoring shots at that time.
John Worsfold understands his players, and has implemented a game plane which suits their style, as clearly demonstrated on Sunday.
Earlier in the year the Fremantle’s CEO Steve Rosich said, “Ross can deliver a consistent and successful playing style.”
As with many of the other changes Rosich has implemented at the club, Lyons’ appointment, but more particularly Harveys sacking, has not been greeted by the club faithful with any enthusiasm.
Lyon’s ugly brand of football is clearly restrictive to the opposition, but with Fremantle now losing their past two games by significant margins, it is clear that Lyon has not grasped or understood the playing stock at his disposal.
Alex Silvangi is one stark example. Fremantle members have been calling for his recall, and at Sunday’s derby when he finally got his chance, he was one of a few Dockers players who could hold his head high.
The experiment with Ballyntyne in the midfield has also been perplexing. The livewire goalsneak proved his worth in the opening game against Geelong, where he basically was the difference in the two sides.
Lyon’s desire to keep him in the midfield is perplexing in a side which looks to have no functioning forward line.
It is obvious to me that unless Lyon understands, and quickly, what sort of players he has available, and is able to adapt his playing style to it, the Dockers are in for another short and disappointing season.
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