With Nathan Buckley stating that Collingwood need to play finals in 2018, and the players agreeing, there’s plenty of pressure on the Pies.
But supporters need to be patient. Now is the time to back Bucks and show him all the support we can muster to bring home our next flag.
First however, let’s delve into the logistics of the Pies’ best 22 come Round 1 in 2018.
In defence, we are hearing of a big change to start at centre-half-back, Darcy Moore.
Moore has the ability to play the same role as Jeremy Howe. Tyson Goldsack and Lynden Dunn can take the lock-down roles, allowing Moore to float across and attack the packs, take contested marks, and allow Howe to go forward, where he prefers to play.
The addition of Sam Murray is highly underrated. His kicking skills are phenomenal and he will give the side some speed and dash coming out of the backline. What’s more, he is only 20 years old – give the kid some time to settle in.
In the midfield, I like Brayden Maynard’s move into the middle – he will take anyone on, charge in like a bull, but also use his foot skills on the outside.
Daniel Wells is a damaging player, particularly on the inside – he’s all class.
Then there is the regular midfield brigade in Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom and Adam Treloar, who needs to improve his kicking efficiency.
It all adds up to a strong mix of young and old throughout the midfield, along with defenders and forwards able to go through the middle, adding flexibility.
Moving into the forward line, picking the starting six a difficult task.
Jordan De Goey is a must, he knows where the goals are, and Alex Fasolo will provide a lead-up target either on the wing or inside the forward 50.
Barring the result of any disciplinary action by the club, Jamie Elliot will again provide as a lead-up target and a quality crumbing forward.
With Moore playing down back, Howe will be able to play up forward with the same type of freedom he had down back. Working in tandem with Howe will be Ben Reid, who may have lost some pace, but will help out in the ruck when Brodie Grundy needs a break.
The final forward spot goes to Callum Brown, purely because he showed a lot in his few games played.
With the bench, Maynard, Levi Greenwood and Travis Varcoe can all play either back, middle or forward, allowing Buckley to play the match-ups accordingly.
The last spot was a tough decision between Kayle Kirby and Josh Daicos but, in the end, Daicos gets the chocolates off the back of his last few games and the possible spark he could provide.
The Magpies have a lot of flexibility, but lack enough A-Grade players to really challenge for a flag. There needs to be a dramatic lift in a lot of B and C-grade players to really propel the Pies into flag contention.
Be patient Pies fans, back Bucks, and like the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, ‘trust the process’.
Here is my 22 for Round 1 in 2018:
FB: Lynden Dunn, Tyson Goldsack, Taylor Adams
CHB: Sam Murray, Darcy Moore, Jack Crisp
W: Steele Sidebottom C: Adam Treloar W: Will Hoskin-Elliot
Foll: Brodie Grundy, Scott Pendlebury, Daniel Wells
CHF: Jordan De Goey, Jeremy Howe, Callum Brown
FF: Alex Fasolo, Ben Reid, Jamie Elliott
Bench: Brayden Maynard, Levi Greenwood, Josh Daicos, Travis Varcoe
Unlucky: Tom Langdon, Matthew Scharenberg, Kayle Kirby, Josh Thomas