The Magpies coach hopes more players have the courage to show a bit of personality with the media in future.
Expect another long season this year, Demons fans. Hype, hype, hype and more hype. Have we heard that word mentioned more by any other club than the Dees?
There has been and I put money on it that despite all the talk surrounding Melbourne’s potential, there will be more undelivered promises.
Let’s first look at what happened last year.
Brent Moloney took out the club best and fairest from Jared Rivers, James Frawley, Nathan Jones and Jack Trengove.
On Brownlow night, Moloney acquired the most votes of any Melbourne player with 19. Colin Sylvia was next with 10, before a long list of Demons with six or less.
Melbourne’s leading goalkicker was Liam Jurrah, who booted home 40 majors, pipping Brad Green by three. Sylvia contributed 25 and Jack Watts slotted 21.
Melbourne finished the year with eight wins, 13 losses and one draw (in their first game against Sydney).
I expect the Dees to notch the same amount of wins in the 2012 season.
The song starts with “It’s a grand old flag, it’s a high-flying flag”. But that (premiership) flag won’t be soaring this year; they will have to wait yet another season, adding to the 48-year wait.
New head-coach Mark Neeld will be in for a tough time and will want to get to the round 12 bye as quick as possible.
Why? In Melbourne’s first 11 matches, they play the top eight of 2011 – and they lost to six of those teams last year.
Neeld was appointed as coach during Collingwood’s September campaign, of which he was a large component of before making the move. His first statement to the football public was that he was going to “make Melbourne the hardest team in the competition to play against”.
What Neeld needs to have, as a high priority, is consistency.
Melbourne must work on their consistency. They ranked third to Collingwood and Geelong in the highest average-winning margin but then ranked second, with only the Gold Coast Suns behind them, in averaging losing margin with 56.
Melbourne fans should be happy with the Neeld selection, after he spent time as a defensive and then midfield coach under Mick Malthouse.
He is joined in the coaches box by former Adelaide Crows coach – and one of the most respected men in the business – Neil Craig. Also joining him will be ex-Fremantle, Kangaroos and Collingwood big man Leigh Brown, Jade Rawlings, as well as the old faces in Todd Viney and Brian Royal.
In 2012, Melbourne has two new “official” leaders in Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes. Between the two, they have played a total of 69 AFL games.
The engagement of both youngsters is a credit to and acknowledgement of their leadership. At the same time, though, it is a significant door slam to the face of the likes of Aaron Davey, Moloney, Sylvia and Green.
Neeld’s first point was made right there.
Melbourne lacks that certain something and a key playmaker up forward. Will former Brisbane Lions forward Mitch Clark be the saviour?
I like the Demons up back with Frawley and Rivers, who I have rated highly for much of his career. I have him in the same boat with Harry Taylor.
Players to watch from Melbourne are Sam Blease, who enters his fourth year and is sure to build upon his five game career. Also, Jordan Gysberts will only continue to improve, as will 19-year old defender Tom McDonald.
2012 won’t be a grand old year for Melbourne. But hey, they could well prove me wrong.