The face palm before the storm: Geelong’s 2018 season preview

Alphingtonian Roar Pro

By Alphingtonian, Alphingtonian is a Roar Pro

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    “The consequences of successful action seemed almost as terrible as the consequences of inaction, and they could be more horrible for those who took the action. A bubble can easily be punctured. But to incise it with a needle so that it subsides gradually is a task of no small delicacy.”
    ― John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

    So is the position the Geelong FC finds itself in over the next few years.

    Geelong has one last chance at a premiership in 2018 before it needs a brutal cleanout and rebuild of the club. Not that such decidedly proactive action will happen of course. No, we’d rather drift aimlessly toward the inevitable.

    For years Tim Cook, Chris Scott, and co. have been constructing a list of mature age players – most traded in – that has left the Geelong list demographic at bursting point. The great crash is coming it’s no longer a question of if, but when.

    So the time is now for Geelong, but do we have the game style or players capable of winning a premiership on the wide open spaces of the MCG? Do we have a coaching staff innovative enough to understand the modern tactics of the game and counteract them or reproduce them to a higher level?

    A coaching staff capable of communicating properly with the entire playing group, forming relationships built on trust creating mutual learning, instead of relationships only formed with a select few that ferment boyish cliques?

    Can they create a culture and narrative that the players buy in to? Recent evidence would suggest not.

    For Geelong to win the flag in 2018, the Geelong coaching staff need to have the courage to drastically reconfigure the forward line and, with the departures of Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan, they’ll need to do the same in defence.

    As we’ve come to see however, post-2011, the Geelong footy club isn’t built on tactical innovation or drastic anything.

    Rather, it bumbles along, only changing a little here and there falsely believing it’s very close to a premiership rather like a child chasing a pigeon in a town square and watching it fly off just out of reach again and again.

    Most children learn fairly quickly you can’t catch a bird by chasing it but need other more advanced creative means with which to capture your prize.

    The conservative GFC seemingly haven’t learned such a lesson, believing slight tweaking of the structures of yesteryear will see them through.

    Chris Scott, contrary to his own grandstanding on how the game should be played, actually prefers conservative highly-structured defensive football over taking chances and moving the ball quickly.

    When Geelong does move it quickly on transition, seldom is it with run and carry which, if turned over, can horribly expose a defence but equally can break opposition lines and almost guarantee a goal. Rather, it’s with the old short spot up kick from half-back then quick turn and long kick into the forward 50.

    If it’s turned over, the defensive set up can still remain behind the ball intact. If the ball ends up in a stoppage inside forward 50 only then will the Geelong defence press up to keep it in.

    One suspects Scott’s natural concern about exposing Geelong’s defence in a post-Mackie and Lonergan era would lead to a majority measured short kicking style of football this season, backing in the decision making and skills of a star-studded midfield.

    With Gary Ablett, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola, Tim Kelly and Mitch Duncan in that midfield, Scott won’t be able to count on mids that will run as hard defensively as they will downhill.

    Patrick Dangerfield Geelong Cats AFL 2017

    The Cats need to do more in 2018 if they’re to taste ultimate succcess. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    Geelong will attempt to create stoppages inside its forward 50 and back the strength of its physically superior mature midfield to win contested ball and create goals.

    The Cats certainly won’t be relying on quick transition and intercepts for the lion’s share of their scoring opportunities in 2018 – especially at wider grounds like the MCG. Instead, a rolling maul will be the Geelong way in most of their MCG games this season.

    Like the last few years, I expect we’ll see more of the same old same old down at Geelong.

    An imaginative coach might see if we have a better structure in our forward line without Hawkins up there, or if we played a small agile defence, whether we could stymy small forward lines like Richmond’s while providing exciting speed and rebound of our own off half back.

    These ideas and changes to a conservative predictable game style require courage and vision which just doesn’t seem to exist down at Sleepy Hollow.

    Geelong, based on its playing list, recruitment strategy, and age demographic really needs to at least make a grand final in 2018 but, in all likelihood, will at best win one final and bring to an end any chance of premiership success in the post-2011 Chris Scott era.

    Who to watch out for

    Tim Kelly: – With his dynamic speed bursting from the contest and silky skills, Kelly could be more important than Ablett in giving the Cats an outside chance at a flag in 2018.

    Gary Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield up forward – What will Ablett and Dangerfield produce in the forward 50 for Geelong in 2018?

    Can their interchangeable forward line presence elevate Geelong’s forward line from dysfunctional to fluid, from workmanlike to mercurial? No team can win a final kicking just five goals in a game as Geelong did in the 2017 qualifying final against Richmond.

    Being able to generate much higher scores against the better sides on the MCG is the no. 1 issue for Geelong in 2018.

    Jamaine Jones – Chris Scott is said not to like players who play in bursts but, given a chance and confidence to back their own judgment and skills, such players can be match winners – especially in tight finals.

    Jamaine Jones has electric speed and could be a dynamic X-factor inside the forward 50, providing immense tackling pressure and finishing skill in a tired looking part of the ground for Geelong.

    Esava Ratugolea – The athleticism, booming kick, and strong direct leading of Esava mean he could be the No. 1 candidate to play key forward and part-time ruck, perhaps overtaking Wylie Buzza and Rhys Stanley in the Cats line-up.

    Jed Bews – In what’s shaping as a do or die season for ‘the Hoops’, Bews simply needs to stand up to provide run, carry, speed, and dynamism off half-back and take the pressure off Zach Tuohy as the lone ranger giving zip out of defence.

    Under the pump

    Mark Blicavs – Blicavs desperately needs to nail down the key position defensive post it seems he’s been trained up for all summer.

    Since the removal of the third man up rule, ‘Blitz’ has gone from a very good ruck midfielder to a very average jack of all trades but master of none.

    He finally has a focus and needs to produce or, with the Cats now-bolstered midfield depth, be left on the sidelines.

    Rhys Stanley – Do I really have to explain why?

    Rhys Stanley Geelong Cats AFL 2016

    Rhys Stanley needs to lift. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Daniel Menzel – Despite his inspirational comeback story, the reality is Menzel has struggled to adapt to the defensive side of modern AFL, where forward 50 pressure is arguably the most important area for pressure on the ground.

    This has led to an impression that he’s somewhat selfish and craves the glory of a goal more than the work without ball in hand needed to create it.

    In 2018, if he doesn’t lift the defensive side of his game he now has far more competition for spots in his role.

    Chris Scott – Chris finally has the players at his disposal to create a premiership winning game style and strategy but will have to have the courage to look outside the box.

    If Geelong fail to make a big impression again in 2018, not even the club spin doctors and his own car salesman rhetoric will save him from the ire of an increasingly frustrated supporter base.

    Tom Hawkins, Sam Menegola, Lachie Henderson (in finals) – Blicavs should’ve made this list too but has already been spoken about.

    All four have put in a majority of dismal finals performances over the last two finals campaigns and simply need to stand up when it counts in September 2018 if Geelong is to go anywhere near premiership glory.

    Predicted finish in 2018: Fifth
    Predicted Best and Fairest winner: Patrick Dangerfield
    Predicted leading goalkicker: Tom Hawkins
    Predicted best first-year player: Tim Kelly

    Rebuild announcement

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    The Crowd Says (48)

    • March 9th 2018 @ 8:01am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | March 9th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      An excellent analysis of the garbled junk list that Geelong have assembled. I predicted they would get less than 8 games from GAJ and guess what? Pinged his hammie already. This is a side built and coached to win on their poky home ground fellas. This is a side who get found out, every year since 2011 found out on the wide expanses of the G where their lack of pace is exposed. So what do they do? get rid of Motlop who can run at least. This is a side so poorly disciplined and led by ego that the coach allowed his key playmaker Rodney Dangerfield carry his baby through the race before the crucial final against Richmond, instead of focussing on his young teammates to settle their nerves, a final in which they got belted by 9 goals.

      What is their record again since 2011? 3 wins from 11 finals tells the sorry tale of a club who makes finals based on their home ground but cannot salute. Their list is a year behind the Hawthorn list and look what has happened to them.
      Since the author begins with a quote I have my own quote for the Cats and yes big Harry reads Shakespeare folks!

      They are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing….”

      • Roar Guru

        March 9th 2018 @ 9:46am
        Col from Brissie said | March 9th 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        How many finals wins for your side the last 14 years bloke?

      • Roar Guru

        March 9th 2018 @ 9:50am
        Cat said | March 9th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Mr Copy and Paste at it again.

      • March 9th 2018 @ 10:35am
        Mattyb said | March 9th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

        Good comments Harry,harsh but good.
        I personally think Geelong will do ok this season but it would be extremely small minded to think what you have said doesn’t have plenty of merit.
        The bringing home of Ablett at his age,and his character as a person certainly has the makings of a huge mistake.

        If Hawkins,Selwood and Dangerfield are fit for the finals Geelong are a big chance to go all the way I believe.
        I do think Dangerfield bringing a child onto the field before a final was the wrong thing to do,but I think playing Selwood injured throughout the finals had a bigger impact on the end result.

        • March 9th 2018 @ 12:08pm
          Harsh Truth Harry said | March 9th 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          Selwood’s body is getting older to mattyb. This is the fella who has ducked for frees so many times he is like those critters you have stuck to your dashboard with the wobbly necks! Seriously though folks, the fella won’t be out there much longer, as for recruiting a bloke who walked out on your club for money well, let’s just say they better have put in bionic man hamstrings because GAJ is gone blokes. Hawkins pretty much done too. The big questiuon the author has brilliantly portrayed here is what about the Cats future? Perhaps THE worst under 24 list in the comp and that’s saying something with what SOS has done to the once proud Blues.

      • Roar Guru

        March 9th 2018 @ 10:58am
        Paul Dawson said | March 9th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Interesting you’d use that line – if you add back in the part you cut out, I think it’s an ideal description for your stuff Harry

        ” it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. “

        • March 10th 2018 @ 9:54am
          truetigerfan said | March 10th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          Lol. How appropriate. He seeks attention in strange ways does the Roar’s resident Sybil.

      • Roar Guru

        March 9th 2018 @ 1:08pm
        Paul Dawson said | March 9th 2018 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        This ongoing focus on Dangerfield carry his baby has to be the dumbest most trivial sticking point I can remember on the Roar in years. Congratulations, you’ve trumped the fuss about the paddlepop lion. Well done lads

        I remember asking Harry, that given scores were very close at 3/4 time and only blew out in the last quarter, how much of an impact Dangerfield holding his baby for 30 seconds 2 hours ago had on that, and could he quantify it?

        I didn’t get a reply.

        Ablett’s hamstrings and injuries are obviously a concern, but if he gets at least 12+ games in and is fit for finals, it’s a win. Finals alone is a win – Fremantle fans will gladly tell you how much of a downer it was that Luke McPharlin wasn’t able to play in the 2014 and 2015 finals campaigns.

        • March 9th 2018 @ 2:06pm
          mattyb said | March 9th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          I think a senior player carrying his baby out on the ground before a big game is a great idea.
          In fact,before this year’s GF I want my entire side to run out with all their children,the coach should also have his sitting in the coaches box.

          • Roar Guru

            March 9th 2018 @ 2:16pm
            Paul Dawson said | March 9th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

            Every coach says that the most important thing about finals is an uninterrupted preparation, keep doing all the same things and avoid putting undue stress and pressure on the players

            It is accepted and customary now that a player celebrating a milestone game enjoys the moment with his kids. What you’re saying is that Geelong should have made a special case of the fact this was a final, told Dangerfield to do something different.

            if Geelong won the game it’s not even a story, it’s just a convenient scapegoat from fl0g pundits who can’t be bothered making a meaningful assessment of the game and the reasons why it was won and lost

            • March 10th 2018 @ 8:54am
              mattyb said | March 10th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

              What’s worse though,someone who’s analysis isn’t meaningful enough for you or the comments that follow like “how many finals have Essendon won” or “it’s fake news because I don’t agree”,and nothing more?

              Personally,like I said I thought Selwood playing injured in the finals had the biggest impact,my assessment was he probably should have missed the 1st final all together and then Geelong could have rolled the dice in the knockout finals and the extra week off might have helped.

              On the children thing,personally I don’t see why players need to do it at all and I’m not sure keeping things the same is a solid argument as kids aren’t being run out onto the ground every week. Toddlers being carried out I totally don’t get,can’t see how it benefits their upbringing in any way at all and yes,I do think it’s an unnecessary distraction. Seems self indulgent if anything.

              • Roar Guru

                March 11th 2018 @ 3:37pm
                Paul Dawson said | March 11th 2018 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

                Of course it’s self indulgent. They want to be able to show their kids the footage in years to come, and say hey kids – here’s when I did my 200th game or whatever, and there’s you in my arms when you were a baby.

                You don’t own players and they’re entitled to do whatever they think is best for them to get themselves in the best frame of mind to play a game of football.

                They’re not carrying the kid on the field once the whistle goes – that for me is the end of discussion, anyone trying to claim that these players are distracted or selfish for having a brief moment with their family before 3 hours of brutal footy is just a blowhard with no idea

        • March 12th 2018 @ 2:06pm
          Harsh Truth Harry said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          But i did reply Paul, I put the question to you “would you let him carry the baby through the race if the milestone game happened to be a grand final? ” I assume the answer is no, it should be. Then what follows is why is a Qualifying final so much less important that he can do it. It is an intangible bloke but reeks of ego and bad discipline and bad coaching. During the season is fine, carry your mother in law through the race if you want on your 200th but not in finals. Finals are about focus, and unity blokes not individual egos!

          • Roar Guru

            March 12th 2018 @ 3:22pm
            Paul Dawson said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

            I remember, and I said yes, because the whole aim surely is to treat the grand final as any other game

            I’m not going to agree with you on this, in my view it had zero impact on the outcome of the game. You’re welcome to disagree but I don’t see the evidence for it beyond your own prejudice

            I remember asking Harry, that given scores were very close at 3/4 time and only blew out in the last quarter, how much of an impact Dangerfield holding his baby for 30 seconds 2 hours ago had on that, and could he quantify it?

            I didn’t get a reply. Still haven’t got one either. Just a dodge and another question which I had already answered.

            • March 12th 2018 @ 4:19pm
              Harsh Truth Harry said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

              “It is the sum of all parts that paves the path too greatness” – Harry The Coach (Under 18 GF 2009, we won by 45 points)
              How can you quantify that the cats wouldnt have started betetr in the first qtr because that one or two young teammates of Rodneys felt more calm, more positive.
              How can you quantify each of the players having a good or bad sleep the night before? Or being a bit crook with gastro? You can’t control that.
              My point is you CAN control what a senior player chose to do before an important final and most in The Roar agree with big Harry not you paul on this one.

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 4:27pm
                Paul Dawson said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

                Well done on the result – 8 years ago – but if I’m honest I see that as just a facile link between your words and the eventual outcome – apparently you cribbing together a mish-mash of plagiarised stereotypical quotes is worth 7 and a half goals? If that was the case anyone with a book of inspirational quotes could become a coach.

                What if you’d lost? I’d contend if you won by 45 points your team was a much better drilled outfit on the day and didn’t need the inspirational quote.

                I can’t, but I firmly believe that Dangerfield carrying his kid has precisely zero impact on the outcome of the game. If he had a young teammate who can’t handle Paddy taking 30 seconds before the game to spend a quick moment with his kids then I agree with you in part that he was carrying the wrong baby through the race.

                You still can’t say what the connection is between Paddy carrying his kid two hours ago on the blowout in the final quarter btw. Just a lot of guff about players having gastro or a good sleep. The reason you can’t put it into words is that there is no connection. And every post you keep dancing around my question while I keep answering yours just confirms your ridiculousness in advancing the assertion

                I don’t care if anyone agrees with me, I think you’re wrong and there’s nothing you can say that’s going to change my mind on this one.

              • Roar Guru

                March 12th 2018 @ 4:33pm
                Paul Dawson said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

                Which game was it at the U-18’s btw Harry? I can’t see any results by 45 points

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_AFL_Under_18_Championships

                Or was this a state comp?

    • Roar Rookie

      March 9th 2018 @ 10:36am
      Bangkokpussy said | March 9th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      This is a defining year for Geelong and where their future lies. It could be argued that last year with injuries to most of their small forwards was always going to be a hard ask.
      Chris Scott will not be given the luxury of the benefit of the doubt this year. If he cannot get this team at least into the grand final his days must be surely numbered. There is already a growing school of thought that Scott does not have what it takes to get Geelong to a grand final.
      These days there is not the young talent drain to start up clubs which should shorten the premiership window for the higher ranked teams.The clock is ticking for Geelong and Chris Scott..

    • Roar Guru

      March 9th 2018 @ 11:03am
      Paul Dawson said | March 9th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

      Can I just say Alph, I was laughing when I read your list of rhetorical questions

      “So the time is now for Geelong, but do we have the game style or players capable of winning a premiership on the wide open spaces of the MCG? Do we have a coaching staff innovative enough to understand the modern tactics of the game and counteract them or reproduce them to a higher level?

      A coaching staff capable of communicating properly with the entire playing group, forming relationships built on trust creating mutual learning, instead of relationships only formed with a select few that ferment boyish cliques?

      Can they create a culture and narrative that the players buy in to?”

      Given you have written about 6 articles all bagging the hell out of Geelong, Chris Scott, and pretty much half the list I did find it amusing you’d ask so many rhetorical questions that pretty much everyone reading already knew the answer to.

      Anyways, good article, some good metaphors, but I really don’t understand why you hate on your own team so much. You know this is so much yelling at clouds right?

      Personally I think Geelong have overachieved each year to finish where they have, and it’s deluding fans like yourself into thinking they’re red hot contenders for a flag. They have the best consistency across the regular season of any other club, playing most games at a finals-like intensity – and when it comes to actual finals, they don’t have much of a gear left to go up to, because they’re already running at 90% and have been all season.

      I tell ya, if I had my club going as well as Geelong the past few years I wouldn’t be on here writing poor articles bagging them out every 3 months

    • Roar Guru

      March 9th 2018 @ 11:52am
      Peter the Scribe said | March 9th 2018 @ 11:52am | ! Report

      The two clubs who played off for the grand final in 2011 have not played in another since. One has rebuilt (Pies 2014-2017), one has topped up.

      Geelong, no doubt have given themselves a greater chance to win another one more often but yet they haven’t been able to quite get it. Collingwood of course, reached the preliminary in 2012 (oh yes, under Nathan Buckley) and missed the top 4 by 2 wins in 2013 and then struggled for the past 4 seasons.

      The Cats are some observers favourite for the flag in 2018 but I just can’t see them improving enough to get over Adelaide, Richmond or GWS in the finals, yet alone how they will go against any newcomers to the finals this year.

      IMO the Pies list is in way better shape for a decent tilt at another flag 2019-2022 while Geelong will be facing a substantial rebuild over that same period after missing out on their next flag again in another finals crash this year.

      • March 9th 2018 @ 12:24pm
        Harsh Truth Harry said | March 9th 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        cats will come sliding down behind your middle rank side next couple of years. Your only hope is when Rossy Lyon takes the magnetic board off Buckley!

      • March 10th 2018 @ 12:33pm
        truetigerfan said | March 10th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

        Ha-ha! So the Pies have been rebuilt! I’d be complaining to the foreman, dude, about the quality of the materials used. No better than last year, or the year before, or . . . you know the rest.

    • Roar Pro

      March 9th 2018 @ 4:49pm
      Alphingtonian said | March 9th 2018 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

      Just want to make it clear the ‘Tim’ Cook mistake at the beginning of the piece was an unfortunate editing mistake and not of my doing. I do know the CEO of Geelong is named Brian Cook. Thanks.

    • Roar Pro

      March 9th 2018 @ 4:58pm
      Alphingtonian said | March 9th 2018 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

      Paul D I’m glad you were laughing. Whatever reaction my writing gets I’m happy it’s at least getting any reaction at all. My club hasn’t been going well the past few years when it counts! In fact it’s been pretty pathetic in that area. Expectations obviously differ depending on where a team is at. Geelong have built a list to supposedly win a flag and have even finished 2nd over the last two seasons to again give themselves a good chance but have consistently failed hopelessly in finals. Considering those outcomes the club deserves scrutiny especially given our precarious list demographics and the high likely hood of us falling off a cliff over the next 24/36 months.

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