St Kilda and Carlton are still in the dark about where and when they will relocate to continue the AFL season amid Victoria’s COVID-19 crisis.
With the top 8 finalised, it’s time to turn our gaze to the 10 clubs that didn’t make it and their coaches.
Justin Leppitsch hasn’t been able to get a full team on the field all year. Injuries have sabotaged the season and with players announcing their intentions to leave it’s not going to get any easier for someone entering their third season in 2016 with a list as uncertain as what the Lions will have.
Players by now will know what the Leppitsch game plan is. The AFL’s expansion plan has done some serious damage to this club. More than what the league bosses would care to admit. They have watched a new team come in with a treasure trove of talent while they find it hard to retain their own.
Trade – Aggressively. Get the best deal for anyone who doesn’t want to be there. Perhaps pick up a few fringe players to help stabilise the squad.
Draft – Heavily. Go for the next crop of young players. There are several talented local academy players which eliminates the ‘go home’ factor. Resist the temptation for pre-season draft picks.
Score – 4/10
2016 prediction – 16th
The list is woeful. The rebuild is going to be long and painful for new coach Brendon Bolton. He is going to need every bit of that three-year contract to lift the Blues off of the bottom of the ladder and even then it still might not be enough time. Factions on board level will only add to the constant uncertainty that surrounds this club.
Mick Malthouse added to the mess that was previously inherited by Brett Ratten. John Barker could do nothing about it but try youngsters in a bid to salvage anything he could in a bid to get the top job.
Trade – Moderate. Very few players have currency in the market.
Draft – Heavily. Get the best young talent possible and start over. Look to the pre-season draft to bring in any players to fill a gap short term.
Score – Malthouse 1/10, Barker 5/10
2016 prediction – Wooden spoon
Any team that loses its entire midfield to injury is bound to have had a bad year. The appointment of Rodney Eade was seen as a positive move but off-field behaviour added to a culture crisis that surrounded the club this season.
Eade will have to put his foot down and hope his injured stars can recover well enough to challenge for finals and stay fit. Its a big ask but in reality he should be looking now for finals action in 2017. Players coming back from long term injury takes time.
Trade – Minimal. He has a lot of young talent coming through the ranks and players returning from injury.
Draft – Minimal. They just need to keep adding more young players for the future.
Score – 5/10
2016 prediction – 10th
Where do we start? Firstly, the WADA decision won’t be known until late November at the earliest. By then up to 20 players could have either retired or left the club via a trade or the draft. The dam wall is going to burst and the club will take years to recover from whatever the decision will be.
Next the Bombers need a new coach and very few people will be putting their hand up. John Worsfold is a lock for the Crows job as either coach or coaching director. They burned their bridge with Mark Thompson. The cupboard is bare in terms of experienced quality coaches. The last time they hired a rookie they burned him too.
James Hird lost the plot, lost the players and lost his job. His reputation has been shredded by his own actions. The board will most likely have to go too.
Trade – Aggressively. Get what you can for the players who want to leave. There is some currency in the market for a few. Bringing in older recycled players in case the ASADA investigation ended badly for them has back fired.
Draft – Aggressively. Time to start again. Look to the draft for talent and use the pre-season draft to top up with young fringe players.
Score – Hird 1/10, Egan 5/10
2016 prediction – 17th
Greater Western Sydney
The Giants took giant strides this year. Leon Cameron has his players believing they are good enough but injuries to key players and an exhausting season on young bodies has taken its toll.
Another strong pre-season will see this club rise significantly. It has an embarrassment of riches but needs to start drawing bigger crowds. They will become more consistent and a threat for years to come.
Trade – Minimal. A few players will leave and the Giants will get a good deal on some. Getting experienced players in will go a long way to pushing the club up the ladder.
Draft – Minimal. Keep the cycle going with more young talent.
Score – 7/10
2016 prediction – Finals bound
It’s all or nothing for Nathan Buckley next season. The side has been in decline for four years. He has deliberately and meticulously brought this team together and the young talent he has on hand is starting to produce higher levels of consistency.
The biggest problem he has is how to get into their heads when the game is up for grabs. Too often they fall short and a bit more experience and a solid pre-season will go a long way to making sure the Pies rise again.
Failing to win enough games and playing finals will spell the end of the Buckley experiment and Eddie will probably have no choice but to fall on his sword as well.
Trade – Moderate. They know who they want but won’t want to use talent they have at the club already to get them.
Draft – Minimal. They will need to use early picks to secure the trades they want. Perhaps looking to mature age recruits to bolster the young squad.
Score – 3/10
2016 Prediction – ninth
Paul Roos can’t keep making excuses for his coaching style. It’s been natural progression and not coaching that has seen the club improve slightly this year.
By labelling the fans negative you isolate a small band of loyal followers who show up each week just hoping for something. These are the same people who helped get the club out of severe financial debt. This is the life blood of a club and if you turn on them, they turn their backs on you.
This a team that is now a perennial embarrassment to the competition. Where they go to in the next five years is anyones guess.
Trade – Moderate. The club has very little currency and will need to use picks to get players they need if any even want to go there.
Draft – Aggressively. Start with the best young players and look at mature age recruits and the pre-season draft to add experience.
Score – 1/10
2016 prediction – 15th
There are serious question marks over whether the Cats can bounce back. Do you keep some ageing stars? Maybe keep two and get rid of the rest? Or do you bite the bullet and delist them all and hope you can recycle a few players and use the draft to find the next batch of potential stars.
They are in no mans land. Chris Scott has done a great job to keep the team up for as long as he has but by trying to go around again he could do damage to its list of youngsters and end up with a bigger rebuild than he needs to have.
His job is safe for at least two years and time will tell if he has it in him to get the team back into the top eight
No doubt there are players who want to come to the club but the biggest one of all won’t be one of them.
Trade – Aggressively. If you want to bring players to the club you have to give up something. It’s not going to be easy.
Draft – Minimal. Picks will have to be used to secure players through the trade. A few youngsters for the future will be picked up late.
Score – 6/10
2016 prediction – 11th
Ken Hinkley needs to find plan B if he wants to make the finals. He puts too much pressure on the midfield to perform. He has an attacking brand of football but too often the forward line go missing and the defence ends up being under the pump.
If he doesn’t deliver next year the natives could get restless. Port have too much talent to miss out two years in a row but the gap between their best and their worst needs to close significantly.
Trade – Minimal. The talent is there. They know who they want but will need to use an early pick and perhaps a player to get him.
Draft – Minimal. Later rounds will bring some young faces to the club.
2016 prediction – Top 8
Alan Richardson has done a good job and the players coming through are a nice blend which should appease the Saints faithful. The usual players are heavily relied upon and it showed late in the season when they began to tire.
They have managed player retirement and turnover well in the last three years.
His job is safe for the next couple of seasons and the board are happy with the progress made to date. It will take some time but the club is heading in the right direction again.
Trade – Moderate. The club doesn’t have a lot in terms of value with players but may need to look at bringing in some more experienced seasoned bodies.
Draft – Moderate. Bring in the best available talent and keep moving forward.
Score – 6/10
2016 prediction – 12th