AFLW 2018 team preview and predicted finish: Carlton Blues

Joel Shepherd Roar Rookie

By , Joel Shepherd is a Roar Rookie

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    I’ve talked a little about Carlton recently, so if you’re desperate to know why I’m so down on the team who boast gun forward Tayla Harris, possibly the league MVP last season if she weren’t injured Brianna Davey, and Collingwood’s season one MVP Nicola Stevens, you can read a longer explanation there.

    Put simply, this is about midfields.

    The four Victorian teams are a study in differing philosophies when it comes to the importance of midfielders. Melbourne and the Bulldogs value them above nearly everything else, while Collingwood and Carlton don’t.

    I’m personally in the camp that fails to see how you can win games of modern football without a midfield. If I’m wrong on this point, my predictions for Collingwood and Carlton will be spectacularly wrong as well.

    On the other hand, this isn’t just about midfields, because there’s been a lot of talk that Carlton might move Davey and Stevens up the ground.

    Both would make excellent midfielders, but if that move happens, it will leave the Blues’ backline exposed… Carlton just tossed a whole load of playing depth overboard in their rush to get Stevens and Harris, right at the time when everyone else is getting deeper.

    So one could argue that this isn’t really a midfield problem for Carlton at all — it’s a depth problem, as they now have too many important roles to be filled by too few really good players.

    We’re quickly getting to the point in the AFLW where a core group of four or five-star players is no longer enough. If it were, Carlton’s group of Harris, Vescio, Stevens and Davey are as good on paper as you’ll find.

    But after that? Carlton’s coaching group may have great faith in the rest of the list, and there are some very good players there… but let’s be blunt, these are not the A-list, they’re a very competent B-list.

    They’ll be fine if all they’re competing against is fellow B-listers, but other teams spent their off-season accumulating A-listers.

    We can dispute who’s on which side of the A-list/B-list divide in all the teams, but by my reckoning, Carlton’s off-season recruitment decisions now have them trailing nearly everyone in the quantity of A-list talent.

    This season look for Carlton’s core group of stars to impress in every game, but for everyone else to struggle.

    Prediction: 7th.

    In addition to his interest in sport, Joel Shepherd is a professional Science Fiction author. You can read more by him here.