Great power, little responsibility: A Giant malaise

Jay Croucher Columnist

By Jay Croucher, Jay Croucher is a Roar Expert

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70 Have your say

    For much of Saturday night at Spotless Stadium, the Giants coasted on their talent until they were finally struck with a punishing blow of cruel irony: the most talented player on the field was playing for the other team.

    Lance Franklin’s high-arching dagger from outside 50 on the left boundary was almost cheapened by its rich, breathtaking predictability. Franklin excels at making moments more difficult than they need to be, and then making them look like they were effortless all along.

    He juggled the mark in front of Phil Davis in the fourth quarter, seemingly costing himself the precious few metres that would have made the goal kickable. But then Franklin reminded everyone that every word in his football vernacular ends with ‘able’.

    Franklin’s goal didn’t end the game, but it was a game that always felt over anyway. The Giants, the most talented team in the competition, playing at home against a team whom they have owned in recent history, were only down six points in the final term and not for one second looked like they would win the game.

    Moments of individual brilliance kept GWS in the match, and occasional chains of multiple moments of individual brilliance made things briefly interesting. But the Giants were, ultimately, a little hopeless.

    They won contests, but their victories were made fleeting by the confusion that followed with ball in hand. They spent the night manfully climbing rungs of a ladder that led nowhere.

    They positioned themselves in defence, then gave away mindless free kicks inside 50. They spread with intensity off half-back, but the intensity was dead by half-forward. They delivered the ball inside 50, but delivered it to no one. For stretches they played the game in their forward half, but the ball never felt trapped there – it was not boxed in; it was just being repelled by a small, eminently breakable wall, which finally did break.

    Lance Franklin Sydney Swans AFL Indigenous Round 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    Everything Sydney did, they did with order. Everything made sense. They had numbers behind the ball, and when they regained the ball, they ran forward together in perfect synchrony. They worked harder, impelled by the knowledge that talent is only crushing when it is properly weaponised.

    The Swans were a perfectly drilled military unit – the Giants were a lot of John McClanes all trying their own way to take down Nakatomi Plaza.

    This is not a three-week malaise for GWS. They have been stumbling since the first five weeks of the season, unable to properly punish semi-competitive teams, and making few statements against the best. A team this brilliant should not be losing to Carlton and St Kilda, or failing to win at home against a Geelong side absent Joel Selwood, coming off a six-day break.

    The GWS issue is not manpower. They have injuries, but the team that took the field against Sydney was still arguably the most talent-laden in the league. Their issue is organisation, or motivation, or both. Whispers about poor coaching are growing louder.

    The fact that the Giants are continually being neutered by teams prepared to work hard, track back and cut off the corridor, reflects poorly on Leon Cameron, and suggests an inability to devise a Plan B. His decision to play Rory Lobb behind the ball on Saturday night, shrinking what should have been a decisive height advantage for GWS inside 50, was incomprehensible.

    Cameron said he was pleased with the effort Saturday night. Moderately improved resilience cannot be a benchmark for these Giants – the sky must be the goal, and right now, they are rooted firmly to the ground.

    Jay Croucher
    Jay Croucher

    From MSG in New York to the MCG in Melbourne, Jay has spent his adult life travelling the world, indulging in sport and approaching it from the angle of history and pop culture. Follow him on Twitter @CroucherJD

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    The Crowd Says (70)

    • Roar Guru

      July 17th 2017 @ 10:07am
      Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      There’s a lot of people around Australia hoping this narrative of the spoiled brats who expect it all on a plate turns out to be true.

      Leon Cameron could be a smoky to get the sack at the end of this season if they fall short again. This isn’t a side tooled up to go out in the 2nd or 3rd week. I’m not fussed either way, it’s a plastic team with no soul. But Sydney – wow. To win 9 from 10 after their 0-6 start, now that is culture. If the Lions had the spirit of the Bloods I’d be a much prouder supporter.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 10:25am
        Mattyb said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Paul,I’m on the smoky to be sacked train. I’ve had a close eye on Cameron after I thought it was his coaching performance that cost GWS the prelim last season and ultimately the flag.
        Tactics aside I also feel the Giants are a very poorly disciplined side. Poor discipline in such a young side I lay blame on the coach,especially when it appears to be across the whole side.
        Getting the premiership last year would have been early, but they really did have it laid out for them,if they fail this year questions might need to be asked. With such an even season GWS really should be the standout side considering their list.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 11:10am
          Jim said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          Poor overall discipline has always been part of the GWS gameplan from day 1. For a team so immensely full of talent (well maybe not at the current time due to some injuries), they’ve always been a very niggly team to go with it.

          I do agree there will be pressure on Cameron if they don’t get very close to getting the job done this year. With the quality of that list, they should be winning multiple premierships during the current window, or it will be very much a wasted opportunity.

          Paul D – I am very proud of what my Swans have achieved the last 10 weeks after a damn awful start to the season. There is a very strong culture at the club clearly. I wrote them off after 6 weeks thinking it would be a long year, but they’ve flicked a switch, reset their season, and now have given themselves a chance to make the finals, and potentially go a lot further.

          I desperately want to see your Lions make some progress though – its so frustrating how the AFL is letting footy drift in Queensland at the moment.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 1:22pm
          rusty said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          Agree. And a coach that has seemed to subtly endorse some of the poor discipline.

      • Editor

        July 17th 2017 @ 3:39pm
        Josh Elliott said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

        I don’t think Leon would be any risk of getting the chop, for the sole reason that there isn’t an angry fan base and media to placate like there is other clubs. Out of contract at the end of next year though so will be interesting to see if any pressure starts to build.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 3:44pm
          Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

          So basically you’re saying he keeps his job due to absolute indifference from the Sydney public. I suppose there are worse endorsements but not many.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 3:58pm
        Penster said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        A coach who’s produced Top 4 genuine premiership contenders 2 years running is a chance to get sacked? You’re a tough customer, and replace him with ………… Brad Scott, Rocket Eade, Lyons? Leon Cameron wouldn’t be in the Centrelink queue for long!

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 4:14pm
          Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

          Coaching GWS to the pointy end of a season is right up there with turning a profit as the CEO of Macquarie

          With the available assets, how could you not?

          • July 17th 2017 @ 6:20pm
            Sir Col in paradise said | July 17th 2017 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

            Love it Paul – exactly….

          • July 17th 2017 @ 7:21pm
            Sir Col in paradise said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

            Love it Paul – exactly….

            Anyway the window is only going to be this and next year – they are going to have some retire around then , the rest are going to get pillaged – if Fyfe goes for what’s rumoured the vultures are going here and pick what they can get . GWS will loose depth and be back with the pack. No matter who is coaching.

          • Roar Guru

            July 20th 2017 @ 9:37am
            Penster said | July 20th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

            Well, sure, to some extent, but Gold Coast managed to fluff it up pretty badly, Melbourne has enjoyed stupid amount of concession and produced zip, Swans COLA should have chalked them up for more than 1 flag in 10 years ………. it’s much easier to stuff it up than deliver a flag.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 10:27am
      Roger of Sydney said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      Good article, something is wrong at GWS and I think Paul Roo’s summed it up when he said, the Swans have a style of play at a team level but what is GWS style of plan, or what are they known for.

      It seems they are getting know for a collection of high skill players who don’t play as a team. Having said that the Swans are about 90% now with more to come for the finals, so to loose to them is not all that bad either.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 11:02am
        Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        They’re known for being an arrogant brash bunch of sledgers. Understandable given the hammerings they all copped for the first few years of their existence but resentment and getting square will only get you so far.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 11:23am
        Rich_daddy said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        Yeah I thought that was vary astute comment from Roos. I think it was “The Giants play with talent which got them close but the Swans play a brand and that’s why they won. The Giants currently do not have a brand”

        They have been lucky to win a few games at home this season. They were fortunate to beat the Pies and had no right to beat Richmond. Their form on the road has also been questionable with the exception of the win in Perth.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 11:30am
        Republican said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        …..indeed, generic by name, generic by nature………

    • Roar Guru

      July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am
      Cat said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      Last week there was a lot of discussion regarding Malthouse vs. Buckley and how Malthouse had a knack of getting the most out of his players, his teams were generally more than the sum of their parts. Cameron’s Giants are definitely less than a sum of their parts. GWS should be better than they actually are.

      They also need to make hay before their older players ride off into the sunset. Shaw (31), Stevie J (34) and Mumford (31) have been integral at the Giants and they won’t last forever.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 12:13pm
      I ate pies said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

      I’m glad there was a focus on GWS’ topheavy and unaccountable forward line from the commentators. I’ve been saying this for a few weeks. Other than Greene they lack small forwards, and if they can’t mark it the ball comes straight back out.
      Is it too early to say that they’re overrated? Their top players are still those from other clubs – Ward, Mumford, Shaw etc.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm
        Christo the Daddyo said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Er, what about Patton, Shiel, Greene, Kelly? I’d have all of them in the top echelon of the club.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 2:01pm
          I ate pies said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

          Take Ward and Mumford out and they lose. They are more important to them than all of the players you’ve mentioned.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 4:07pm
            Birdman said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

            plenty of sides could be accused of the same reliance on 2 players

            • July 18th 2017 @ 6:54am
              I ate pies said | July 18th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

              So their top players are those from other clubs, just like I said.

              • July 18th 2017 @ 3:30pm
                Mark said | July 18th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

                So are Sydneys. What’s the relevance?

              • July 21st 2017 @ 9:22am
                I ate pies said | July 21st 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                It’s in reference to my statement that their players are overrated…do keep up.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 5:45pm
            Sydney Steve said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

            Agreed that Ward & Mumford are probably the 2 most important.. but patton, cameron, shiel, kelly, davis, shaw etc etc etc aren’t too far behind and still very important to the team. Also a lot of these guys are still young, give some of them a couple of years and they’ll be the most important players at the GWS or wherever they get poached to.
            Aside from Coniglio and Hopper i dont see them getting any of their other key players back before the finals. Coniglio is an influential midfielder and might add some depth and quality but I don’t think they will get that much stronger this year. But who would know this year!

    • July 17th 2017 @ 12:32pm
      Pope Paul VII said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      I didn’t think GWS were that far off considering the injuries they’ve had. Sydney have been going great guns.

      That Franklin goal was pretty spesh.

    • Roar Pro

      July 17th 2017 @ 2:18pm
      anon said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

      As I said last week:

      anon said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      Swans are the best team right now and have been since round 7.

      They are Greater Western’s bunny, but Greater Western have played poorly and got very lucky this year. Good team, but ultimately soft selfish front runners.

      I think the Swans get the job done this week.

      and

      anon said | July 10th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

      Greater Western struggle to win interstate. Struggling to get over the line against middle of the road teams at home.

      Injuries don’t really matter because they have incredible depth, injuries have hit in a part of the season where their draw has been soft, and they were soft front runners before the injury crisis.

      Greater Western have no plan B.

      And from May 2017.

      SmithHatesMaxwell said | 12:40am | ! Report

      You called me a BS artist and conspiracy theorist for claiming GWS are disappointing and have stagnated.

      I got the last laugh tonight. I was right about GWS. I was right about them last year when no-one was giving them a chance, and I was right about them this year when everyone seemed to think a Grand Final appearance was fait accompli for the orange team.

      They have about 20 first round picks in their squad and are the ultimate flat track bullies. It’s pathetic. GWS are the epitome of millennial culture.

      GWS are simply soft and can’t deal with adversity. They all have that strut, the cocky smirks, the arrogance, the nasty cheap shots, but no mettle. A squad of downhill skiers.

      GWS are the great underachievers of the AFL.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 3:27pm
        Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

        You want a medal for saying that a team that had won 8 from 9 was going to beat a team that had won one game in a month and looked to be having a form slump?

        Bravo, I guess.

        • Roar Pro

          July 17th 2017 @ 3:36pm
          anon said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

          I was calling it in May when everyone was falling over themselves to praise the Giants.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 7:19pm
            Pete said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

            FIGJAM

        • July 17th 2017 @ 3:51pm
          Sammy the Tank said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

          Do you ever stop being a Pratt Paul D? you come across as such a jerk!

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 3:54pm
            Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

            Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn

          • July 17th 2017 @ 4:13pm
            Birdman said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

            really StT? I think PaulD nailed it.

            Giants just ticking over heading into the derby while Swans were white hot – well ‘white hot’ in the context of season 2017.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 4:14pm
            Christo the Daddyo said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

            The answer to those two questions are ‘no’ and ‘yes’.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 7:29pm
              AdelaideDocker said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

              There’s only one question in that one, bro

              • July 18th 2017 @ 9:12am
                Christo the Daddyo said | July 18th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

                Technically, but you see the point, yes?

              • Roar Guru

                July 18th 2017 @ 9:21am
                Paul D said | July 18th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

                All I see is someone suffering a bad case of butthurt. What did I do to you again, apart from give it back to you when you took a pop at me? What a sook.

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