Jonathan Brown took a swipe at the Adelaide Crows this week, questioning their ability to play tough, “unsociable” football – a term made popular during the recent years of Hawthorn’s reign.
But Hawthorn weren’t respectably tough, they were dirty, so I don’t want to see the Crows play the way the Hawks did.
I want Adelaide to build their own brand of football, which – in gameplan alone – they’ve already done this year.
That said, Brown’s comments are warranted.
On paper, the Crows should have won a premiership under Neil Craig, but didn’t because Craig had no answers when Plan A wasn’t working. To compound the problem, he refused to make changes on-field when the chips were down.
Sure, hindsight is 20-20, but Don Pyke’s words in the media after his side’s last two losses placed almost all blame for the breakdown on a players’ inability to execute the gameplan. Yet when things aren’t going to plan, Pyke’s ability to execute the kinds of changes coaches are paid to make has been found wanting.
Of course, he’s not going to talk tactics with the media, but I’ve no reason to believe he’s delivering a different message to the players.
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The loss to North Melbourne didn’t bother me so much, it was more the manner in which it occurred, with a Craig-like commitment to a failed gameplan. However, in the press conference, Pyke threw his players under the bus, blaming poorly executed plays and non-contributors.
That’s fine if you’re going to spend time one-on-one with those players, working out how to fix the problem, but if you say things like that and then rock up to training with indignance, the players will check out.
Is that what we saw during the Melbourne game? I hope not, but the possibility is far from ruled out.
In the interest of fairness, a few changes were made during the Melbourne game. Pyke threw Rory Sloane around to see if a different position would shake the tag. It didn’t. His comment about that at the press conference: “It just didn’t work for him tonight.”
Late in the game, Pyke put Andy Otten forward (where he’s been so good this season), but it was too little too late.
So sure, the Crows may be soft, but big hits don’t win football games, they only earn you a nervous seat before the match review panel. Thus, Brown’s comments are accurate, but irrelevant.
Adelaide aren’t any softer this week than they were when they annihilated their first six opponents (including the unsociable Hawks), so something else has changed.
I just hope it isn’t the players’ faith in a coach who is facing his first stint in the hot seat.