Inexperienced lists are not an excuse for poor performance

Max Hatzoglou Roar Rookie

By Max Hatzoglou, Max Hatzoglou is a Roar Rookie

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    Struggling clubs of the competition cannot blame their poor performances on their inexperienced lists because it’s simply not good enough at AFL level.

    To see the Gold Coast and St Kilda go down by a total of 179 points over a weekend of footy, even against two stronger teams of the competition, is well below what a dominant game should look like.

    The youth and development seen in these sides cannot be blamed for when games are lost by unexpected margins.

    Developing players does take time, however, clubs cannot blame this for poor performances as it’s simply not good enough at the top level.

    The North Melbourne Football Club is a prime example of how quickly a club list can develop and change over a short period of time. Over a pre-season, the club had only four changes to their list.

    Jack Ziebell

    Jack Ziebell of the Kangaroos (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    The club was in turmoil after 2017 as it was vastly predicted to finish in the bottom four again this season. Although, things quickly changed for them.

    With some great coaching and a couple of senior players stepping up, they have since put seven wins on the board this season, already surpassing the six wins they had in 2017.

    Still a very similar list to the one of the previous season, they became winners. The North Melbourne Football Club is a prime example for the efficient and effective development of their players.

    The likes of Ben Brown, Jarrod Waite, Shaun Higgins, Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington have stepped up for the club, taking their young talent along with them.

    A few little changes such as a move down back for Majak Daw and using Ben Jacobs as a tagger has provided great stability for the team.

    It is these small changes influenced by every coach which has changed the dynamic of the football club.

    For too long now, the struggling clubs of the competition in Brisbane, Gold Coast, St Kilda and Carlton have been in the developing stages. It’s too long for the modern footy supporter to sit through and for these clubs, it shouldn’t take this long.

    It has been seven years since St Kilda have made the top eight. Brisbane haven’t made the top eight in nine years and have appeared in the bottom four five times.

    Gold Coast fans are yet to see their team make the finals in their first seven seasons in the competition and Carlton has only seen their team once in the top eight in the past six seasons.

    Player development must improve at these clubs especially list management which comes with it. North Melbourne’s success so far this season has been largely due to the great balance of young and old players at the club.

    They’ve got a culture of young and old with leaders among which have been recognised and been able to drive the club. It should be a fundamental for all clubs to ensure they have the right balance of young and old.

    The move of Luke Hodge to Brisbane has been a great step forward for them although they require more experience around the club for the development of their less experienced players.

    Luke Hodge

    Luke Hodge of the Lions (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    They also must ensure that they don’t lose their future prospects as it’s a mistake that other clubs have made which has led to lost talent.

    This has largely been the problem at Gold Coast and Carlton. The list management of recent years has been poor at these clubs as this balance of young and old has been non-existent.

    The Gold Coast have lost the likes of Jaegar O’Meara, Gary Ablett, Charlie Dixon, Adam Saad and Dion Prestia to name a few players. This poor example of list management has led the club to their current struggles. Imagine what it could’ve been if they had these players at the club now.

    Likewise, with the Carlton Football club who have lost Sam Jacobs, Jarrod Waite, Eddie Betts, Shaun Grigg, Zach Tuohy, Bryce Gibbs and Jeff Garlett.

    This has led these clubs to massive downfalls and long-delayed rebuilds as a result of poor list management.

    If clubs had at least half of the listed players, there’d been a difference. It only takes a few players to change a club around and clubs must make sure that there not losing key prospects for the future.

    It’s now time for the struggling clubs of the AFL to step up and compete against the competition’s best.

    List management and player development have to improve significantly as there’s plenty of evidence from the rise of North Melbourne that clubs can evolve over a preseason.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • June 12th 2018 @ 4:13am
      Chris said | June 12th 2018 @ 4:13am | ! Report

      Max, you’re way off the ball. First and foremost, you can’t hold down a player who wants to leave. Secondly, the rebuild of a team may be painful but it could yield long term rewards. Look at Collingwood this year and Richmond the year before. Sticking to Jack Dyer’s “good average players” will not get you a pennant in a million years. What it will do is keep you competitive for two and half or three quarters at best. Getting youth in and developing a culture is far better than holding on to indifferent overpaid hacks/never-beens/has-beens!

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 11:14am
        JamesH said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Holding down Dixon, Prestia, O’Meara, Saad and Ablett was pretty much the only way the Suns were ever going to keep them. The club will need to keep Lynch under house arrest if they want to retain him.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 8:37am
      Paul Dawson said | June 12th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      I learnt nothing at all from reading this piece

    • June 12th 2018 @ 10:22am
      Macca said | June 12th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

      I you look at the North side that played on the weekend their full back is 29, the CHB is 32, their centreman (Jacobs as named ) is 26, their CHF (Wood) is 24 and their FF is 25.

      On ball their ruckman is 29, their ruck rover is about to turn 27(Cunnington) and their rover (Higgins) is 30.

      Throw in the likes of Ziebell (27) Daw (27) Wright (27) MacMillan (26) Atley (25) and the currently injured Waite (35) and the question has to be asked why they are being discussed in an article about inexperienced lists.

      Also of the 18 players they have under 22 only 3 have played more than 10 games and only 2 more than 12.

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2018 @ 11:18am
        JamesH said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        The title is confusing. It suggests an article about how inexperienced sides should still be competitive, but the article is really about how you need to retain some experienced players in order to develop your young talent.

        Hard to see how Bolton and Silvagni are responsible for losing Jacobs, Betts, Waite, Garlett or Grigg. Grigg and Jacobs left almost 8 years ago!

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 11:50am
      Dalgety Carrington said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

      The sample size for North is fairly small to hold them up as a beacon for list management. They are definitely fielding one of the older aged teams this year and actually benefitted from a relatively stable off-season trading period. The real question on them is their depth and how it will sustain over multiple seasons. The thing that North, and WC for that matter (I see them as two sides of the same coin this year), also show me is the value of having multipronged talented and in-form talls in attack.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 12:00pm
        Macca said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        To me if you look very simplistically North have a decent ruckman with strong bodied clearance players at his feet and two really god contested marks up forward – that gives them a great platform to build off.

        But longer term if you take Waite and Thompson out the team looks shaky and then if you lose Goldstein, Higgins and Tarrant not long after they are in trouble.

        • June 12th 2018 @ 1:09pm
          Pope Paul VII said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          Spot on the foundations are solid.

          I think North’s thing is to, wherever possible, retain players rather than swap them out. They also manage pick up handy discards. Williams and Hartung for example.

          Majak Daw is a good example of retention. They knew he’d come in handy one day and he’s the oldest teenager going around only having played about 40 games. By the time Thomson and Tarrant leave he’ll probably be the big man in town. Get’s so much crap from alleged supporters online it’s embarrassing so it’s good to seem him doing well.

          Anderson and Ahern are others, one much maligned (once or twice by me, sorry Jed) and the other just another GWS high draft pick, injured and free to a good home.

          Hanging in with Jacobs and Wright, a most underrated player, has also been important.
          Dumont is a player who just goes and goes while barely being noticed.
          Atley is going great guns yet there is talk of a trade. I hope not.

          Pruess will come in for Goldstein. They need to keep in the good books with him.

          Maybe it’s a just a handy North Melbourne myth but they do encourage the shinboner unity and loyalty thing (give or take the odd enforced retirement and club wrecking affair).

          I think Brad Scott is a pretty good manager of men, which probably helps.

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2018 @ 1:14pm
            Cat said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            Daw doing well? I was going to give him votes as one of Geelongs best on the weekend. The rest I agree with but Daw has been and continues to be a waste of a list spot. Still can’t read the play after what 8 years on the list?

            • June 12th 2018 @ 2:36pm
              Pope Paul VII said | June 12th 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

              Not his best game for sure. He’s been an effective cog though this year. Wasn’t alone in having a bad game either as many more experienced players stuffed up. For all Higgins’ talent he made some poor decisions. North were totally outplayed in general and stumbled between being slightly overawed by the trinity and displaying unfounded overconfidence. Certainly if they get another crack they should tag Princess Gary (as Carey suggested).

          • Roar Guru

            June 12th 2018 @ 1:54pm
            Dalgety Carrington said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

            As I said above, I see North as very much in the same position as WC, in terms of structure (certainly fwds, mids, rucks and definitely shading them in the backline comparison and arguably the tall forward dept too), stability in playing list and age profile of the playing team.

            Certainly, if WC can win it this year, the North can too, they’ll just need a little more to go right for the rest of the year as it has done for the WC so far in the first half of this season.

            If they don’t win it this year, then you’d wonder about the path forward. The model of treading water in the mid-upper reaches of the ladder has been North’s one for a very long time now. The main worry is that it will bring competitiveness, but not much else. I guess like any list management model it can rely on a bit of luck, along with some canny decision making to fully fulfil the quest.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 12th 2018 @ 12:04pm
      Max Hatzoglou said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

      When speaking about the loss of players currently listed at other clubs, it is not blaming the current list managing although the past. In Carlton’s situation, the blame is put on the list managers from 4-5 years ago. The blame is not going onto Bolton or Silvagni at all.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 12:19pm
      Paul Dawson said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

      I should expand on my snarky comment from earlier Max – the main reason I was cheesed off at this piece was because you made claims like

      “although they require more experience around the club for the development of their less experienced players”

      “They also must ensure that they don’t lose their future prospects…This has largely been the problem at Gold Coast and Carlton. The list management of recent years has been poor at these clubs ”

      And not once did you mention the words “free agency” or any of the issues around why perhaps clubs like the Suns and Lions struggled to retain or attract players. Anyways.

      North are a very good club with a coach who year by year is adding to his credentials. Remember 2013 or whenever it was, when they lost all those close games in succession – West Coast to Nic Nat’s mark after the siren, Adelaide’s 30 points in 5 mins – for them to shrug that off, move past all those club stalwarts leaving and still be back there or thereabouts in 2018 is a very good achievement.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 3:52pm
        luke O'Connor said | June 12th 2018 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

        Hi Max,
        I am in total agreeance with Paul D, I learned nothing from this article.

        Gold Coast and Brisbane have had retention issues that are both similar and very different. Same with Carlton and the Saints. It is a given that list management and player retention is key to any club but in the case of the QLD clubs, there is a constant. The media and punters in general actively encourage every Victorian draftee to “Go Home” from the QLD clubs almost the moment that they are drafted.

        You will see line after line is written about Rory Sloane, Tom Lynch or Luke Shooey must come “home”. Never mind these are usually 25 year old adults that have been well paid and spoon fed for years. I am not sure about you but I moved away from “home” and went to QLD to live when I was 20. Unfortunately, I wasn’t drafted, billeted, fed, managed or even paid to make the move but it quickly became my new “home” and wouldn’t dare think of moving.

        This crazy idea is put in every young Victorians mind that they will never be successful unless they come “home” to play a great game at the MCG in front of 200,000 screaming fans and win a premiership! Never mind that are 18 clubs and picking a winning a premiership team is nearly impossible at the best of times, but these young Victorians have to go “home” and get some success!

        Perhaps focus the articles in future on solutions, and no, moving the Suns to mighty Tasmania isn’t a solution! While it is so acceptable for players to leave clubs such as the QLD teams and there is totally inadequate balance in player movement and compensation it is always going to be difficult for “non-Victorian” clubs to hold players.

        Ablett, O’Mera, Witts, Bennell, Swallow, Lyons, Miller, Caddy and Prestia looks like a hell of a good midfield to me!

        • Roar Rookie

          June 12th 2018 @ 11:37pm
          Max Hatzoglou said | June 12th 2018 @ 11:37pm | ! Report

          Thanks for your opinion Luke.

          From understanding everything you’ve said about players wanting to come back home which is totally fair and true, part of list managing is getting the right players.

          In these cases where players are drafted from interstate, recruiters must understand the risk of them leaving to go back home for each individual player as it varies from player to player.

          It varies as some players will have to move anyway because they live in the country although some don’t as they live near the cities.

          Interviews are done with all most all draftees prior to draft night once or several times and it’s part of the list managers job to get an indication of whether the player will be committed to stay if going interstate.

          So when you say Brisbane and Gold Coast have rentention issues, it’s true although that issue comes under the fault of the list mangers. Not all the fault but partly.

          If you read my article again, you should understand that there is a solution to this as you now know what’s part of the list managers job.

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