With the 2019 AFL draft in the rearview mirror and club lists finalised for 2020, we decided – despite overwhelming popular opinion – that it’s not at all too early to start speculating about the season ahead.
Paul Roos is the best AFL coach not currently coaching an AFL team. More importantly, he is the best coach for the Melbourne Demons.
Whether Roos wants to coach or can be persuaded to do so next year remains the one million dollar question. Why one million dollar?
That has been the rumoured figure that is being offered to entice the premiership winning coach out of retirement, to don the headset once again.
In economic terms, the benefit of securing Roos would far outweigh the seven figure cost per season required to obtain his signature. That’s why Melbourne must do all in their power to get their man.
As a player, Roos was a hard nosed half back, not blessed with great athleticism or skill set.
Still he played 356 games for Fitzroy and Sydney in a career that spanned 17 seasons.
He was named All-Australian on seven occasions, captaining the side two times and was named centre half back in Fitzroy’s team of the century.
As a head coach, Roos’ achievements are nothing short of remarkable. After succeeding Rodney Eade at the Sydney Swans mid way through the 2002 season, Roos guided the side to consistent performances throughout his tenure.
The Swans played finals football in all but one year between 2003 and 2010 under Roos’ leadership, with the only glitch coming in 2009. They competed in back to back grand finals in 2005 and 2006, tasting premiership success in 2005 (defeating West Coast by four points).
As coach at Sydney, Roos instilled a culture the envy of not just the AFL but arguably all sporting clubs in Australia.
It was this culture and team orientated ethos that enabled the Swans to be competitive against the star studded West Coast Eagles throughout the mid 2000s.
Such a culture has been sadly lacking at the Melbourne Demons in recent times and is the reason the struggling club must secure Roos’ services to turn the club around.
Since 2007, the Demons have tried several different coaching options. Following the departure of Neale Daniher, the Dees have tried Mark Riley, Dean Bailey, Mark Neeld and current coach Neil Craig in head coaching positions.
In this time the club has had numerous draft opportunities and concessions as a result of their poor on-field performances.
In 2012, the club was investigated by the AFL for “tanking” (attempting to lose matches) in order to obtain further priority draft picks.
Though cleared in early 2013, the club was fined $500,000 for “acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the AFL.”
So what would change at the Melbourne Demons if Paul Roos was appointed head coach? Firstly, an over reliance on draft picks and hand outs would not be present under Roos’ leadership.
The consistency of the Swans in the 2000s, meant Roos was not met with the opportunity to draft the pick of football’s young talent.
Instead, he developed young players and traded intelligently, building a depth of squad capable of consistent performances over a long period of time.
Those players that had come to the club with reputations due to their high draft selections, Jack Watts and the like, or players who had performed well at other clubs, notably Chris Dawes and Mitch Clark, would all be treated the same.
Individual accolades would be secondary to team success and the overall culture would benefit as a result.
In addition, Roos’ coaching style would demand a high-pressure, defensive style similar to that successfully employed currently at the Swans under John Longmire and the Dockers under Ross Lyon, who were both assistants under Roos in the mid 2000s.
Such a style would make the Demons a far more competitive and respected side in the AFL and Paul Roos is the man the Demons must get, to guide them in this direction.