Free advice for Essendon and St Kilda: Don’t lose your heads

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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    The Bombers and Saints had grand designs for 2018. What has come to pass is something far less attractive. So, what do the two clubs do now?

    Each team has 15 games to go; we’re roughly one third of the way through the season. The distribution of wins to date has been fairly egalitarian around the middle, with a couple of outlier teams at the top and bottom. The ‘middle’ stretches from fifth to 11th, with seven teams on four wins (the Giants also have a draw) and percentages of greater than 100.

    That part of the ladder is set to be congested for most if not all of the season. Each team in there has had its share of stirring wins and shocking losses, a pattern that will if maintained will conspire to keep the group tightknit all year. Living above the fray will be a challenge, but Richmond, West Coast, Adelaide and Hawthorn have an extra win and some points of percentage on them all.

    Equally, teams below start the second third of the season with a significant handicap. This is of particular concern for St Kilda (1-1-5, 69.8 per cent) and Essendon (2-5, 83.7 per cent), who face the daunting prospect of clawing back at least eight premiership points and at least 20 points of percentage just to draw level with 11th place. The task for the Saints is even more challenging.

    Hunter Clark

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Just to get to 12 wins – the new price floor for a finals spot in the 18-team league – St Kilda will need to win 11 of their next 15 games; the Bombers 10 of 15. And that is to reach the minimum benchmark; the price of a September ticket could well stretch beyond 48 premiership points in 2018. Given their respective showings, that is as likely to materialise as someone, anyone, beating Richmond at the MCG.

    So what happens now?

    It is certainly not the time to panic. The football gods afford us eight finals places and one premiership to split between 18 of their children each year. Even if every team was of a high standard, the brutal maths of the league is what it is. So, do not despair on that front.

    It may be time to – in the words of Alastair Clarkson, and dammit I’m going to use this phrase until it is part of the vernacular – consciously decelerate for 2018. That isn’t tanking, but it is taking a conservative approach to injury management, giving some prospective youngsters larger roles, and spinning the magnets a little more loosely than otherwise.

    In the medium term though? There are some aspects of both game style and list that need to be addressed, which you’ve already seen and read about over the past few weeks. By necessity we’ll cover them off, before looking at what comes next.

    Alastair Clarkson Hawthorn Hawks AFL 2017

    Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson. (Image: AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    A common thread
    Both Essendon and St Kilda have something in common: they are breaking down forward of centre.

    One word comes to mind immediately to describe Essendon’s football in 2018: listless. And in a league that is demanding pace, space and pressure, that is the worst way to describe how a football team plays.

    Essendon play with the urgency of a nest of turtles that has made its home on a deserted island. There is nothing creative, daring or exciting about how they move the ball between the arcs, and indeed they appear to relish their slow play stylings.

    We see this play out in one key statistic: inside 50 entries. The Dons have recorded just 47.6 per game in 2018, the fewest in the competition and a frankly stunning 12.1 entries less than the league-leading Richmond. It’s happening for three reasons, which conspire to produce the listless descriptor: a weak inside midfield division, dicking around with the ball between the arcs, and a lack of forward pressure.

    They have been beaten at stoppages in five of their seven games, and have a season-long differential of -1.6 per game (not the worst, but a ways off the best). Essendon’s on-ball division has relied on Dyson Heppell, Darcy Parish, Devon Smith and David Myers (in recent weeks) to shoulder the inside load, and it’s not clear any of the trio are really suited to that work.

    In an ideal world, the first three names are the guys on the receiving end of the work of someone else. That the Bombers are breaking even in the ground game is a minor miracle, but also helps explain their poor ball movement.

    Essendon are the third worst team for converting possession into territory, recording an inside 50 per minute of possession rate that’s 6.6 per cent below league average. They also have the fourth worst time in possession differential in the competition – the two teams below them on territory are Adelaide and Geelong, who hold the ball longer than any other team in the competition.

    When moving the ball between the arcs, Essendon regularly get caught on the wings or attacking side of the centre square, apparently waiting for the perfect option to materialise. They handball, handball, handball circle themselves into trouble, and turn the ball over. Theirs is the second highest rate of uncontested possessions per minute of possession in the league (4.98), a sign of how slow they’re moving the ball.

    Devon Smith

    Devon Smith and Jake Stringer of the Bombers (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    In short, they’re playing a game both ill-suited to their midfield personnel, and ill-fitting with how the league has moved over the past two years. They can’t blame injuries or absence either, with the only injury that may have been affecting their style of play in the first seven rounds being Orazio Fantasia; that will change from this week with Joe Daniher going down.

    Unfortunately for the Dons, it’s something of a negative-virtuous circle, that will take a significant shake-up to correct over the next few rounds. Double unfortunately, Essendon play Geelong, Greater Western Sydney and Richmond in Rounds 8 through 10.

    The very least the Bombers can do is substitute some of the hospital handpasses for kicks, affording the recipient of the ball a few breaths to make a decision what to do next. Some more faith in the forwards group to manage the ball once it’s in their half of the ground would also help; the teams around the top of the ladder are showing that pace is the flour in a quality football cake in 2018.

    That’s to say nothing of Essendon’s inability to stop their opponents from scoring once they enter their attacking 50. For all the talk of the Bombers’ challenges in attack, they’ve currently got the third worst defence in the competition conceding 97.1 points per game. Essendon’s opponents are scoring on 52 per cent of entries, the worst mark in the competition. To add a little insult, no individual team comes close to scoring at that rate on average, suggesting everyone has a field day against the Dons. Yuck.

    St Kilda have been pulled apart multiple times this year so we’ll save some inches here. They have the opposite problem, although it manifests in the same offensive impotency: they are a frantic, disorganised mess, freewheeling and improvising when they haven’t the cattle to do so.

    The Saints are getting enough supply down the pointy end of the ground (51.9 inside 50s per game, only one below the average), but they’re scoring just 41 per cent of the time, and on those attempts are only kicking goals 40 per cent of the time. It’s extraordinary, and it’s costing them about three goals a game vis-a-vis if they’d hit league average.

    St Kilda Saints

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Part of this is luck. But not all of it. Figuring Footy puts the Saints at just minus six goals against expectation on set shots in 2018. Their problem is shot quality. St Kilda rarely look settled inside forward 50, with random leading patterns and difficult shots taken on the run or out of congestion. Unlike the Dons, the Saints would do well to slow down a little, and think through their offence, rather than flailing and failing.

    For both sides, forward half pressure has been well below the best in the league. According to figures published in News Limited papers and sourced from Champion Data, Essendon rank third last for time in forward half, and second last in points from forward half possession chains. St Kilda is no better; 15th in time in forward half, and dead last in points from forward half possession chains.

    Both sides have clear game style challenges, which are unlikely to be overcome with a quick tweak or two. But there’s still a heap of football left in 2018. They have to do something.

    Playing the long game
    What they should not do is panic and remove their coach. Neither club. I don’t think this is on the cards, but clubs with high expectations have been known to do crazy things.

    For one, the football department spending cap makes it much harder to do so these days. All payments made to coaches – past, present and future – come under the spending cap, and unless clubs are budgeting for million dollar payouts an early coach departure would almost certainly send them soaring over the top. The tax rate is a punitive 75 cents for every dollar, meaning a $1 million pay out would cost a club $750,000 in tax (for example). And that’s money that gets distributed to other clubs, giving them a financial leg up.

    According to the AFL’s competition regulations, clubs can apply to have certain payments declared outside of the cap. However one would assume the AFL is unlikely to enable clubs in this way. It’s one of the key reasons I suspect we will see much less abrupt coaching turnover in the league, as well as shorter contracts and much more public messaging from clubs regarding coaches coming out of contract.

    Now, would Essendon have rushed to re-sign John Worsfold at the start of the season if it knew these first seven rounds would transpire as they have? Almost certainly not. But that decision is made, and to move on from him early would be costly.

    While both clubs need some work in their on-field direction, that is as much down to the assistant coaches and teams of analysts and video folk as the head coach these days. The head coach is like the CEO, setting broad direction and ensuring the team is functioning well.

    Both Worsfold and Richardson were re-signed with the best of intentions after showing positive signs in the two and four years prior to the start of this season. Seven rounds of football cannot be allowed to change what came before.

    And by the way, playing and coaching Australian rules football is hard work. Both men inherited dastardly situations – a club reeling from off field controversy and a complete list tear down respectively – only to build their teams back up to the middle of the pack. They know what they’re doing.

    Richmond was very close to lopping its premiership coach’s head off 18 months ago. Collingwood is now playing the kind of football we’ve all known was possible for a while, and they were about to lop their coach’s head off too. There were rumblings out west earlier this year that Adam Simpson might have his number called at the end of his current contract on account of the club’s supposed rebuild. How quickly things can change.

    Scott Pendlebury AFL 2017 Collingwood Magpies

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    Or more significantly, how long it can take for success to manifest. I hate clichés but this one is apt: progress is rarely linear. There are problems, but they can be fixed, and they will be in time. If they aren’t, well, that’s when the executioner comes calling.

    Both teams could use some extra talent on their lists, but we’re a ways off considering that in detail. Essendon is short on proper inside midfielders, while St Kilda has a near perfect list bar the top four or six players that help push you over the edge – as a colleague pointed out to me this week, you aren’t winning a premiership with Jack Steven as your best midfielder.

    There are options aplenty, both in trade and free agency pools. Both teams would be wise to tap their draft capital and load up with established players that meet specific needs come October time.

    Unfortunately for the two clubs concerned, October is still five months away, and there are 15 games of football left to play. They’ll improve. So long as they don’t lose their heads.

    Ryan Buckland
    Ryan Buckland

    As an economist, Ryan seeks to fix the world's economic troubles one graph at a time. As a sports fan, he's always looking one or two layers beneath the surface to search for meaning, on and off the field. You can follow Ryan here.

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    The Crowd Says (99)

    • Roar Pro

      May 10th 2018 @ 8:49am
      Nicholas Richardson said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      Essendon has a serious problem with inside 50 entries. The personnel they have up forward is sufficient to kick a winning score. Often the ball is rushed into their forwards with no direction and their forwards are often stagnant and outnumbered.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 8:59am
      Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      The worrying part for both teams is their 21 and under age bracket.

      Essendon currently have just 3 players 21 or under with more than 8 games to their name (Langford, Parish & McGrath) and of the 4 players they brought in through the 2017 draft (picks 49, 66, 76 & rookie draft 11) only Guelfi (pick 76) has played a game – 3).

      St Kilda are a little better Lonie (47) McKenzie (21) Long (11) and Gresham (47) in the 21 or under bracket above 8 games and brought in 6 players through the 2017 draft (7, 8, 35, 46 and 8 and 24 in the rookie) and have got 4 & 5 games into their picks 7 & 8 (Clark & Coffield)

      • Roar Guru

        May 10th 2018 @ 9:10am
        AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        So you’re saying this duo should go the Carlton/Freo/Brisbane approach and play the youth!!!1!! 😉

        • May 10th 2018 @ 9:14am
          Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          I am saying that if you are in the bottom 4 and you aren’t going the youth approach the chances are you seriously misjudged your list and it is likely that you will stay bottom 4 for quite some time.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 9:17am
            AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

            … I was trying to parody the hysteria over using youth in any and all cases where a team flounders for a little while, but I guess you’ve got a point.

          • May 10th 2018 @ 9:32am
            Tom M said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            Just like North Melbourne did last year? Playing the youth isn’t always the best route as North have proved. They let their young players develop in VFL rather than rush them into the senior side, Essendon are paying the price of having no draft picks for a year.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 9:41am
              Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

              I am far from convinced that North have a list built for long term success – their talent under 23 looks very thin and outside of Brown all their most imporatnat players will be 27 by the end of the year and Waite, Thompson, Higgins, Godstein will all be over 20 and Tarrant be over 29.

              What North do have that both Essendon and St Kilda don’t is tough clearance players like Ziebell and Cunnington and a pair of quality marking forwards in Waite and Brown (Essendon have Daniher but he has had an ordinary year and is now out for a month).

              • May 10th 2018 @ 10:02am
                Mr X said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                If Essendon had the supply to the forward 50 then they’d be a top four side.
                Goddard is cooked.
                Kelly should have played on.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 9:42am
              Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

              Essendon is paying the price for being too successful, last year, following the greatest debacle in AFL/VFL history.

              I certainly didn’t have them in the eight — no idea why most of you did.

      • Roar Guru

        May 10th 2018 @ 9:12am
        Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        “The worrying part for both teams is their 21 and under age bracket.”

        Why should anyone worry about this bracket in the age of free agency, salary cap etc.?

        Answer that with some thought, and you’ll realise why your boys are so $#1T and will remain $#!t for an eternity.

        • May 10th 2018 @ 9:16am
          Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          Rick – Essendon went out and bought Smith, Stringer & Saad over the off season – how is that working out for them!

          Also I find it hilarious that the blues are now being bagged because of their unwillingness to buy a team!!

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 9:59am
            JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

            Macca, Stringer Smith and Saad are all 24 or under and were targeted with that in mind. It’s not as if Essendon went and brought in three 29 year olds (and they didn’t look at Rockliff due to his age, even though he is an inside mid). These players are still still a couple of years away from their best footy.

            As for under 21s, the Bombers started the season aiming for finals. It’s perfectly sensible not to squeeze out experienced players to include kids when you are aiming to have an impact in September. Despite their ladder position they aren’t a true bottom four side – they are just playing well below their ability, whatever the reason.

            Now that the season is slipping away I think you’ll find that a few younger players do get a crack. Laverde (recently 22), Mutch and Guelfi have already played and shown good signs. I expect Langford (harshly dropped after round 2), Dylan Clarke, Jordan Ridley and perhaps Sam Draper and Aaron Francis to get a look in. Clarke and Langford in particular are two players that I think Essendon should be looking at to help improve their contested ball.

            Conversely, Essendon’s poor start spells trouble for the likes of J Merrett, Myers and Baguley. Also, Tippa doesn’t look 100% and might be due a spell.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 10:09am
              Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

              JamesH – I don’t have a problem with the ages of your recruits, I just don’t think they solved a problem for your (Smith maybe) and all came with risks and to this stage only Smith has shown he was worth it.

              You may be right that Essendon might uncover a few young kids before the season ends (and you know more about the list than me) but if they don’t and after giving away your early draft picks this year I would be very concerned.

              I would also be interested on your opinion on this, I think you have recruited a lot of “accumulators” like Merrett, Parish, McGrath and even Heppell who are all very good players but won’t turn a game like say a Cripps would.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 10:37am
              Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              So let me understand. Your club gave up draft picks for players to help them in the future but your clubs goal is to win now? Either the left hand needs to learn to talk to the right hand or you’re making excuses that just don’t add up.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 10:08am
            Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

            It’s round 8 this week, Macca. I don’t need to play the genius in hindsight card other than saying: I could have told you this at the start of the year and did. Just like I told you the Pies would markedly improve upon 2017. The Bombers have taken a risk though for premiership glory — something I can greatly appreciate.

            Why? Because the Pies don’t do rebuilds, just like the West Coast; a team that sees itself at the pointy end of the ladder despite most pundits predicting a massive fall.

            How do I know all these things?… because I’m awesome.

            The coach I’d take tomorrow is Brad Scott. Why?… because he refuses to accept mediocrity, unlike Bolton and the Carlton Football Club.

            “Also I find it hilarious that the blues are now being bagged because of their unwillingness to buy a team!!”

            You just don’t get it, Macca. I wish the Blues well in their pursuit of sustained excellence in their 30-year rebuild.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 10:13am
              Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

              Rick – Its round 8 this week – how about you wait until the end of the season before you pat yourself on the back too hard.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:14am
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

                I’m never wrong and I’ll remind you of that at the end of the season.. again.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:15am
                AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

                I mean, you’re occasionally wrong.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:33am
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

                You didn’t receive my cheque to silence you on that issue?

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 10:14am
              AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

              How do I know all these things?… because I’m awesome.

              I love this persona of yours, Rick. Never fails to make me laugh.

              One question: will the Pies beat your blokes on Sunday?

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 11:28am
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

                Not a chance — Pies are rubbish. Cats will thrash them like they do with most of the other peasant clubs.

                If you’re asking who Rick will pick in the Roar Tipping Competition though? Probably Collingwood. 🙂 He needs to see the ins & outs this evening before locking in his picks.

                Totally, unacceptable that Peter Baker is leading the competition by one tip over Rick. Never in his 20 years of tipping has he been beaten. It won’t happen here on the Roar and will be a disgrace should it occur.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:16pm
                Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                Rick only thing I disagree with you on is freo, we’ll just say speculative but from what I’ve been told personally by someone I trust is programme and woodside have put pressure on as major sponsors will, and a exit strategy is in place for Ross Lyon. Again I stress it’s speculative on here as you guys don’t know me personally but the individual I am involved with is a person who has very high afl contacts.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm
                Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                What I’m saying is I don’t think finals will happen at freo this season.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 1:19pm
                Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                Gee Macca I wouldn’t change recruiting Treloar and Adams. They’ve been brilliant for us. Wellsy was worth a shot too and Mayne is starting to show something, albeit not worth a four year deal.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 1:29pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                Peter – I am not knocking getting Adams and Treloar but it was hardly taking a risk, trading away draft picks for known talent is the exact opposite.

                The blues on the other hand have traded away known talent for a big group of draftees which I would think is a much bigger risk but one that looks like paying off just as big.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 2:04pm
                Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

                No worries Macca, I see your point. For what its worth I reckon your boys might have beaten the Bombers this week, barring those three big outs. In fact, they may still give it a shake.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 2:35pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

                I certainly hope we give it a shake Peter – I am going down to the game!

                On the “3 big outs” not sure which ones you are referring to but it will definitely be an interesting selection meeting – it sounds like Charlie Curnow will come back in, after 28 touches and 18 marks last week in the VFL I expect Weitering will be back, Lang has had 2 games in the 2’s now and has been solid enough so he might come back in, there is talk Murphy is set to go and Marchbank is apparently touch and go.

                Obviously losing Casboult hurts but we may be able to put out one of our stronger sides since round 1.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 3:19pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

                Interesting inside info there, Mattician.

                Of course, if Rosco steps down, this will be my accuse for Freo not making the 8. 🙂

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 8:08pm
                Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

                Cheers, I’m sure you’ve heard tonights announcement, I wasn’t expecting a joint public statement from Woodside and programme , and further allegations.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 4:17pm
                Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                Oh wow Macca, didn’t know you were getting those players back. The outs I thought you had were Kreuzer, Murphy and Weitering All possibly playing would sway my pick, I’ll be including the Blues to win in a multiple tomorrow once I’ve seen the sides named then. Blues to get their first win of the year and Bombers to be facing the scrutiny next week. I reckon after all the Blues and Bolton bashing by myself and others, it will be one sweet victory too.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 4:31pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

                Wait for the teams before getting to excited Peter and don’t underestimate the loss of Casboult, he was the one who could give us a contest for the long kick down the line coming out of defence that if he didn’t mark got us a stoppage. McKay & Curnow look like a great key forward pairing of the future but are still very young and inexperienced today.

                But all that said if they all come in we and Essendon play like they have been we are a chance, I am not sure who they have that can counter Cripps at the stoppages and if the weather is poor (as expected) we might have a lot of stoppages.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 4:54pm
                Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

                Don’t think the Bombers can stop Cripps. If anything has hurt the Bombers it is the increase in congestion. They don’t have inside grunt mids or someone who can take on the games clearance kings. They were good on the spread and run last year once in possession but not sure where it’s gone this year.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 5:13pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

                The couple of games I have seen them play (V the Bulldogs and Collingwood) I would say it has gone due to their foot skills, they seem to be turning the ball over a lot more which has made it harder for them to spread.

                Hopefully between Cripps, Kreuzer, Kennedy and Ed Curnow we have enough strength around the contest to win the stoppages and hopefully get the game played in our half but we haven’t been great at a) capitalising on our inside 50’s and b) locking the ball in our forward line.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 10:24am
              Reservoir Animal said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

              Haha, the knee-jerk manner in which Carlton sacks coaches, and the way their fans expect annual success and couldn’t dare to hear the R-word, tells me they don’t accept mediocrity.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 3:07pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

                Read my comments down below to Macca regarding this.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 10:31am
              Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

              Because the Pies don’t do rebuilds …

              Really? WTF have they been doing while going backwards the last 6 years then?

              • May 10th 2018 @ 10:35am
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report


              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:35am
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

                Being competitive and not languishing at the bottom of the ladder.

                Taking risks and not being an embarrassment to the competition, unlike the Blues.

                If you want to have a more educated debate on where I’m going with this, by all means step up to the plate?

              • May 10th 2018 @ 10:43am
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

                Interesting that you think that trading out the likes of Henderson, Touhy, Gibbs, Menzel, Yarran & Bell and bringing in a heap of draftees and under 21 talent doesn’t constitute taking a risk but bringing in Treloar, Adams, Wells & Mayne does.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:00pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

                I think trading out the likes of Henderson was the greatest thing the Blues have ever done. I’ll continue to thank your club on this front.

                “doesn’t constitute taking a risk but bringing in Treloar, Adams, Wells & Mayne does.”

                Read what I said again: Taking risks and not being an embarrassment to the competition.

                Statistically, your boys should have won another premiership by now. That’s how rubbish your club has been.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 1:18pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                The Henderson trade was a very good one, we ended up with Harry McKay and Plowman (Plus Kerridge, Lamb & Phillips) for Henderson and Menzel.

                Works for Geelong, works for the blues.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 1:32pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Rick “Read what I said again: Taking risks and” the use of the word AND means they have to have done both – Collingwood didn’t take risks, they traded for known talent and brought in free agents -risk free!

                Given they didn’t do the first part of the sentence the use of the word AND means the assertion is wrong.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 3:04pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                At the start of this year (and last), Bucks — along with the Collingwood Football Club — had been accused of ‘miscalculating’ where their list was at by recruiting such talent.

                Now all of a sudden, Mr Genius in Hindsight, tells us how trading for ‘known’ talent isn’t a risk.

                Instead, trading out known talent for draft picks = risk. Noooo, that’s called p!$$ poor management where one believes all their talent will flourish in some fanciful ‘premiership window’ period.

                You’ve been watching too much “On The Couch” where meatheads like Brown and King talk such rubbish, pretending such a thing exists.

                I’ll reiterate to you once again: every single premiership coach in the AFL era either won the premiership within 3-years of their appointment (ala Matthews) or became competitive (ala Hardwick etc).

                Ratten was competitive within this period and should not have been sacked.

                Bolton will not and should be jettisoned accordingly.

                Just because the club sacked one coach prematurely doesn’t constitute a reason to keep Bolton indefinitely should he continue to bring sorrow upon this club for the remainder of the season.

                Make no mistake though, if your club maintains its current leadership (i.e the board) your club will win the Premiership eventually, but it won’t be from good planning, it will be blind luck that gets you there.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 3:22pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

                Misjudging your list and taking a risk on trades are two different things.

                It is pretty obvious that taking a player with exposed form at AFL level who performed like Treloar had was not a risk where as drafting an 18 year old who has never played at AFL level is always a risk.

                “Instead, trading out known talent for draft picks = risk. Noooo, that’s called p!$$ poor management” Incorrect again, it is poor management if you are on the cusp of a premiership but great management if you are sitting on the bottom of the ladder with a list that won’t get you to a premiership.

                “I’ll reiterate to you once again: every single premiership coach in the AFL era either won the premiership within 3-years of their appointment or became competitive.” That stat is misleading because it overlooks the fact that often a coach is sacked after doing a lot of the heavy lifting building a list and the new coach comes in and take the glory.

                Look at Lyon, Harvey had gone hard at the draft in 2008 and then got Fyfe in 2009 and just as those players started to get up to around the 50-100 game mark along came Ross.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 3:40pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

                “I’ll reiterate to you once again: every single premiership coach in the AFL era either won the premiership within 3-years of their appointment (ala Matthews) or became competitive (ala Hardwick etc).” In 2000 Bomber took over coaching the Cats after the had finished 11th after a 10 win 12 loss season, by the end of the 2003 season (4 years later) Thompson had coached Geelong to a 12th placed 7 win, 14 loss and 1 draw season, after winning 20 of 44 games the over the previous two years – does this count as making them competitive?

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 6:50pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

                Don’t get cute, Macca. Leave the self-absorbed b#!!$#1t to the likes of me.

                “That stat is misleading because it overlooks the fact that often a coach is sacked after doing a lot of the heavy lifting building a list and the new coach comes in and take the glory.”

                Except for Scott & Horse (due to both Thompson and Roos quitting rather than being sacked) name me the coaches who stole the glory?

                You’ll need to provide factual information to back your claim since you’ve used the word ‘fact’. I hate it when people like you overuse the word ‘fact’.

                You’re also required to name greater than 50 percent of the following Premiership winning coaches to constitute the word ‘often’ in the factual statement you have made:


                “Thompson had coached Geelong to a 12th placed 7 win, 14 loss and 1 draw season, after winning 20 of 44 games the over the previous two years – does this count as making them competitive?”

                I said competitive within 3-years. Bomber took the Cats in his first year from 11th to 5th. No amount of manipulation is going to change this argument in your favour.

                Fact: Carlton has won 1 game out of their last 17 matches.

                That’s not good enough in an era of equalisation.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 7:57pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

                Further on Matthews the Lions had made the finals in 1995 & 1996 and already had the likes of Bradshaw, Lynch, Voss, Black Akermanis, Johnson and Lappin (to name but a few) on the list.

                if I went through the rest of your list I would find many more cases where the list had been built before the premiership coach put the icing on it as the player moved towards 100 games experience.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 7:34pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

                Rick – often doesn’t mean the majority of the time, it means often.

                From memory McCartney had already built the majority of e Bulldogs list before beveridge put the icing on, the lions had made the finals in 1997 before Matthews took over at the end of 1998 and the premiership list had been built, Thompson already had Scarlett, Corey, Enright, Ling and Chapman as teenagers on the list and took them nowhere for 4 years and even Parkin had plenty of 1987 premiership (and Carlton team of the century players) on the list when he took over in 1991.

                As for Thompson, I would call treading water for 4 years making them competitive but you might have lower standards.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 8:09pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

                “From memory McCartney had already built the majority of e Bulldogs list before beveridge put the icing on”

                You have a rubbish memory. Bulldogs were odds-on favourites for the spoon with every major bookie, including most pundits on this site, in Beverage’s first year. The rest is ‘Genius in Hindsight’ stuff from you.

                As for the rest, that’s just mere opinion, not fact.

                I’d subscribe to the notion all those coaches were replaced precisely because the board didn’t feel they were going in the right direction. It’s generally why most coaches are sacked Macca, not the other way around.

                Think about it logically: why would clubs sack their coach when quite ‘often’, according to you, the team is heading in the right direction?

                That’s right Macca; it makes absolutely no F#2king sense what you just said.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 8:24pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

                Sorry Rick- the players already on the list when the coaches took over is opinion not fact? Where the teams finished inte preceding years is not fact? Do you know what a fact is?

                On Beveridge have a look at the list he inherited.

                The point is, if you are interested in the point and not just ranting away, is that Bolton inherited a list that a probably Cripps and Docherty on it who will be in the next premiership team, the coaches I listed inherited a list that already had absolute elite players on it who went on to be All Australians, premiership players and Brownlow medalists.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 8:47pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:47pm | ! Report

                “the players already on the list when the coaches took over is opinion not fact?”

                I think you need to rewrite that. When you do, I’ll once again tell you it does not make your original opinions fact.

                Apart from a vast majority of lists not falling into this category, this comment exemplifies the fundamental issues you have in your argument:

                “Bolton inherited a list that a probably Cripps and Docherty on it who will be in the next premiership team, the coaches I listed inherited a list that already had absolute elite players on it who went on to be All Australians, premiership players and Brownlow medalists.”

                Assumption is the mother of all F#%kups, Macca. You’re assuming all those players would have become AA players irrespective of their coach. Well, here’s one of the roles of a coach, Macca, straight from the Cambridge Dictionary: someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill, or school subject.

                Most of the players you listed were far from elite at the time either. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Macca, along with assumption. Unfortunately, it’s to the detriment of your argument.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 9:11pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

                No need to re-write just answer the question.

                And Rick you are also making an assumption (and one much more ridiculous than mine), that these coaches could have taken any list and turned it into a premiership list.

                As I have made clear all the way through (and was evidenced by the facts that Brisbane had made finals 3 of the 4 years prior to Matthews taking over and Carlton had plenty of premiership players for example) these lists had had a lot of the hard work done, the talent had been built the coaches just put the icing on.

                It is a completely different situation to the blues and it makes a nonsense of your “stat”

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 9:47pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

                No seriously, Macca, if that’s a question to me, you really need to rewrite it. You’ve made it sound like a reta@rded statement that makes no sense.

                However, I understand the premise of what you’re trying to say and in answer, I’ll reiterate again that using the Bulldogs’ list as an example holds no weight, especially given it does not hold true for most of the other coaches and their inherited lists.

                Secondaly, as I’ve pointed out, the coach is responsible for evolving the list, not choosing it. This is left to List Management’ – something the coach has very little say in.

                Now if you think Bolton will become the Blues next Premiership coach, well good on you. I’m simply telling you that he has to defy 28 years of history that says he won’t.

                If you’re happy with deplorable football that embarrasses the AFL brand, well good on you too. I don’t and I’d personally kick the likes of Carton out of the competition for 5 years until they get their $$!t together.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 10:03pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

                Who selects the list Rick is irrelevant, it is the quality of the list when the coach arrives that is the point.

                And clearly you didn’t understand the question because it was simply asking if the players on the list when a coach took over was opinion or fact? Clearly the answer is fact yet you asserted it was opinion and now you are trying to waffle you way pawy from your error.

                Speaking of waffle what is your nonsense about the Bulldogs? Their list was clearly largely built before beveridge took over, just like the Lions, and Parkins blues, Thompson and Scott at the Cats, Longmire at the Swans and Matthews at the Lions and probably a few more if I bothered to look.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:12pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

                “Clearly the answer is fact yet you asserted it was opinion and now you are trying to waffle you way pawy from your error.”

                I never made this statement, which is why you’ve used the word ‘asserted’. It has nothing to do with my argument and you know it.

                Now your poor English has got you into this pickle on a number of counts. I suggest you move on.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 10:29pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

                And yet here is your assertion.
                Roar Guru
                Rick Disnick said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

                “From memory McCartney had already built the majority of e Bulldogs list before beveridge put the icing on”

                You have a rubbish memory. Bulldogs were odds-on favourites for the spoon with every major bookie, including most pundits on this site, in Beverage’s first year. The rest is ‘Genius in Hindsight’ stuff from you.

                As for the rest, that’s just mere opinion, not fact.”

                And if you look at my post of 7.34 you will see the rest of my post was entirely about where teams finished and who was on their list.

                So clearly you asserted it and the issue with simple English is obviously yours.

                But once again you are ranting and rambling in order to distract from the obvious fact your stat has no merit.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:30pm
                AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:30pm | ! Report

                Macca never backs down from an argument. Neither does Rick, actually.

                Two stubborn minds meet!

              • May 10th 2018 @ 10:39pm
                Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

                Yeah but unfortunately only I know the difference between a fact and an opinion apparently.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 11:21pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

                Yes, AD. However, I’m never wrong, unlike Macca. Let me finish this.

                Macca’s pièce de résistance is the Bulldogs, his only argument. However, despite Beverage only having the team for two years, one would expect their premiership winning team to have almost all their players come from their 2014 list of 40+. At least Macca wants us to think this.

                Before I real off the members who were not on this list, I might add the 2010 Collingwood team had 8 new players who all played in their premiership team that year. This was considered a lot and many argued it was Eddie’s success by forcing pressure upon the Selection Board and Mick with his two year transition plan to Bucks.

                Hamling, Biggs, Cordy, Boyd, Mclean, Dunkley and Daniel were all brought in. That’s 7 out of 22. Quite a considerable impact, especially in light of how poorly GWS are playing with similar numbers of their best 22 out.

                Now this is just one of the Premiership winning teams after just two years. What does the Cats inherited listed in 2000 look like compared to its 2007 premierhsip winning team?

                Josh Hunt
                Andrew Mackie
                Jimmy Bartel
                Steve Johnson
                Joel Selwood
                Nathan Ablett
                Mathew Stokes
                Brad Ottens
                Gary Ablett Jr
                Shannon Byrnes
                James Kelly
                Max Rooke

                Some of the finest names the game has ever seen. All were not on the Cats’ list when Thompson took over in 2000.

                Furthermore, Joel Corey and Corey Enright debuted during Thomsons reign, not Ayres.

                I never lose at anything. Unlike Bolton who appears to be a born loser.

                So long as Macca is happy with that though.

              • May 11th 2018 @ 9:47am
                Macca said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                Rick – we are making progress, you now at least acknowledge the inherited list are fact not opinion, you just can’t understand the facts.

                If we look at the two team you list above we see Beveridge inherited 2/3s (and the best 2/3’s I would suggest) of his premiership team took 2 years to win the premiership, Thompson with 50% of his premiership team (again a significant portion of the best 50%) ended up treading water for 4 years, almost got sacked and took 7 years to win a premiership and then we have Bolton who at very best had 25% of a premiership team and more likely just 10% and has turned of 42 players in 3 years and you find it surprising he isn’t matching Beveridge and Thompson’s performance?

                Unless you are arguing Beveridge and Thompson could have achieved the same results with the 2015 Carlton list you are actually proving my point that the coach needs the cattle.

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2018 @ 9:10am
      Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      While I agree sacking the coach, in either case, right now is not the answer, neither was extending either club when their respective clubs did so. I remain unconvinced that either coach is very good. The game looked to have passed Worsfold by his last year at the Eagles and I have seen nothing to suggest any different in his time at Essendon. I’ve never seen anything in Richardson’s time in charge at the Saints that suggest he is a good coach. He is a mediocre coach at a club that only aspires and is quite happy to be mediocre at best. Saints are going no where and quite frankly I don’t think the Saints care all that much.
      Essendon made a few splashy moves in the off-season none of which addressed their actual needs – inside grunt. Saints were in a prime position with picks 7 and 8 to trade up and get an absolute star, which is what they need but instead took the two least talked about top 10 players in the draft. Both may go on to be long term players but neither scream ‘star in the making’. Saints already have enough ‘solid contributors’, they need someone to bring people through the gate, to make the team relevant even when its playing poorly – like Riewoldt did. Saints don’t have a single player that most people would pay the price of admission to see – which is reflected in their tanking attendances (down ~11,000 per game so far).

      • Roar Guru

        May 10th 2018 @ 9:16am
        AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report


        I was hypothesising last night and thought if there was ever going to be coach (or coaches) sacked sometime in the next twelve months, it’ll be Worsfold or Richardson. Not right now, though.

        I do like the Saints, so it’s frustrating to watch them just wallow in …. not misery, but something damn close to it, for the past few years. I’m trying to remember a genuinely fantastic win by this lot in the past few years – that narrow win over your boys in 2016(?), or their domination over the Tiges’ last year are just about all I’ve got.

        Essendon, though … let’s just say they’re awesome at the publicity thing, not so good in translating that in results. I struggle to believe they’re 2-5 and could be 2-6 if that fall to the Blues (not entirely impossible, let’s be honest).

        I was speaking to a friend a few days back who said he’s almost more embarrassed to be an Essendon fan now than during the drug saga. Can’t really blame him to be honest.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 2:07pm
          Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

          But AD, Worsfold is what three rounds into a deal ending 2020? They’re stuck with him now regardless surely after all the money they’ve had to find to clear out the supplement issues it would be the wrong signal to pay him out?

      • May 10th 2018 @ 9:19am
        Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Cat – I completely agree.

        Another thing is if you look at Essendon they have young players like Parish, Merrett and McGrath all of whom are sound decent players but none look like a player who could turn a game for you like say (from a Carlton supporters view) a Cripps or C Curnow.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 10:08am
          JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          Watch this space on McGrath, Macca. He is going to be a gem.

          Merrett will flourish again once he has someone dishing the ball out to him more consistently. Parish could easily become that player.

          • May 10th 2018 @ 10:16am
            Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

            I am not saying they won’t be good players just the seems to lack a bit of excitement about them.

            Parish at 181cm might struggle to be the contested ball winner Merrett needs if he keeps coming up against mids the size of Cripps or Bontempelli which seems to be the trend.

          • May 10th 2018 @ 7:59pm
            Macca said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

            JamesH – interesting selections form both sides and bad news about McGrath – might make for an interesting tussle.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 9:35am
        Tom M said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Spot on again Cat. St Kilda have a team full of B grade players. Their two best players retired last year and their class hasn’t been replaced.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 12:41pm
        Kris said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        Worsfold didn’t get that job because he could coach.

        He got it because he was a ‘safe pair of hands’ and mature, and experienced and could try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

        They probably need to look at the blokes surrounding him. Neeld and Harvey hardly have a reputation as innovators and most of the rest are suburban/country footballers.

        • May 10th 2018 @ 3:21pm
          Aransan said | May 10th 2018 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

          Kris, I think there is a problem in the Essendon coaching box, I don’t know about Neeld but I am not impressed with Harvey. Skipworth is OK but there is certainly a need for more talent.

      • Roar Guru

        May 10th 2018 @ 1:16pm
        Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        To be fair Cat you also said Bucks was a rubbish coach last year and should have been sacked. You seem more quiet on that notion so far this year though.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 2:56pm
          Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          4-3 and in 9th and about to drop another game and some ladder positions. Not much to say because not much has changed.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 4:18pm
            Peter the Scribe said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            According to most other punters everything has changed Cat. We will soon see. So you expect to comfortably beat the Pies on Sunday by how much? For me I’m on record as Pies by 30.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 4:36pm
              Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

              Are these the same punters who know so much that the only one that gets rich is the betting agencies? Yeah, I don’t give a hoot what ‘the average punter’ thinks.

              I don’t predict margins. Cats will win. Whether it is by 1 point or 100 is fine by me.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 10th 2018 @ 9:54am
      Wilson said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      It was interesting hearing Sheedy’s comments that Essendon simply need more time to play as a team together. He was relaxed and unsurprised. Not sure if I agree with him, but it’s tough arguing against Sheeds. One thing is certain, we are all caught up in a hyper-reactive, week-to-week world of footy. Fans of both clubs should reserve judgement until the midway point of the season at the very least.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 11:11am
      me too said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

      They also smashed Hawthorn and the Giants last year. Went South when taken apart a week after Richmond by Essendon. Lost a lot of confidence and never regained it. Richo’s very basic zonal game plan fell apart with the loss in manic effort, running support, and clean skills that a loss in confidence brings. His response of simply playing a forward further down the field has robbed the saints of forward targets when rebounding.
      On the players insistence they went back to man on man against the Giants, but have immediately reverted back to the zone – possibly due to injuries to key forwards.
      Their issues are mainly mental – they have lost confidence in the coach and themselves, and lack any onfield leadership.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 12:02pm
      truetigerfan said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

      Essendon are in a world of pain. The epitome of dysfunctionality. Don’t work for each other resulting in diminishing trust levels. Great bloke, Woosher but geez . . . never seen a more confused bunch of footballers, ever.

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