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Geelong’s performance to this point of 2018 is the embarrassment of the AFL season.
It’s simply not possible for a midfield containing Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan, Tim Kelly, Sam Menegola and Scott Selwood to be in a side that is so mediocre.
Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart and Jake Kolodjashnij are having career best years in defence. Zach Tuohy is good player. Jack Henry has been a revelation in his first year, and should be a podium finish in the Rising Star.
In the forward-line, Tom Hawkins is right in the thick of All-Australian discussion. Dan Menzel has missed half a year, but is averaging career high goals per game.
Elsewhere, Rhys Stanley had been in excellent form before going down with injury. Brandan Parfitt oozes quality, and is going to be a very good midfielder that can’t quite find room in there ahead of more experienced players.
Geelong’s best football this year has been as good as any team. And so it should be with all of the aforementioned players. But it has been seen sporadically, and often when it has been too late.
Three times in the last four rounds, the Cats have dazzled in last quarters when they have been a long way behind.
29 points down against Melbourne, they were able to peel off four goals in five minutes and eventually win with a Tuohy kick after the siren.
Three times against Richmond they were five goals down, but were able to make quick inroads, especially in the last quarter when all hope was lost.
Another five goal deficit was seen on Saturday against Hawthorn, leading to three goals, two behinds and an out of bounds on the full without the Hawks scoring as they made a late charge.
Chris Scott is a fascinating personality.
On Foxtel’s AFL360 on Monday nights he is as measured as a person can be, almost robot-like. HIs real personality is on display in the coaches box during close wins, where we see a primal joy, and in press conferences after close losses, where we see an arrogant fury.
No coach speaks as technically as Scott, particularly when making excuses after a loss. There’s talk of pulling levers, making adjustments that can’t be shared, opening things up, closing them down. Tweaks and tactics. No wonder the players can’t play four quarters of consistent footy.
The question has to be asked whether the coach is too caught up in strategy, game style and manoeuvres.
All coaches are controlling, but he seems to be in the upper echelon.
Does this controlling aspect breed nerves and over-thinking? Geelong certainly play that way too often, safe with the ball, conservative with decision making, afraid to make a mistake. Too much thought, not enough instinct.
Only when there is nothing else left to lose and the deficit is too great does the instinctive attacking football flow, usually with great results.
Geelong finished second on the ladder last year, and made a preliminary final.
They thought they were adding one gun midfielder (Ablett) in order to take the next step in 2018, but have instead added two (Ablett and Kelly). Yet they sit in ninth, which could easily be as low as 11th or even 12th.
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If you sit and think about it, it’s an unfathomable disgrace, yet Chris Scott has avoided any sort of media heat, let alone considered scrutiny.
It’s not as if all the other teams below the Cats have got better relative to last year either – Adelaide and Essendon have clearly fallen away. Sydney are worse. Port are about the same. Richmond and GWS are at a similar level.
We can say only West Coast has gone past Geelong completely on merit compared to 2017. Collingwood, Melbourne and Hawthorn have improved, but soft draws have flattered them.
In the late 80s and early 90s under Malcolm Blight, the Cats were the most attacking team in the competition, running up cricket scores the like of which were rarely seen before and never since.
I wonder what would happen if Chris Scott allowed them to go ‘full Malcolm’ for the rest of this season? Because right now, he’s driven them from the top to the middle of the road, and they’re going nowhere.