With the 2019 AFL draft in the rearview mirror and club lists finalised for 2020, we decided – despite overwhelming popular opinion – that it’s not at all too early to start speculating about the season ahead.
Alastair Clarkson has sounded the alarm at Hawthorn, saying they are a middling AFL side in need of dramatic change.
Clarkson lamented their ball-handling errors in Saturday afternoon’s five-point loss to Melbourne, adding the Hawks’ 3-4 record was an accurate reflection of where they were as a team.
The four-time Hawthorn premiership coach said changes to method and personnel were needed if they were to become flag threats again.
He said they would not tolerate being a middle-of-the-road side for long.
It is Clarkson’s biggest call yet this season on how he sees his team which is in massive flux.
The 2013-15 premiers have finished fifth, 12th and fifth since.
The clean, devastating ball use which defined Hawthorn at their best under Clarkson was absent for much of Saturday’s loss.
“It sounds like it’s going to be catastrophic change – it’s not going to be any of that,” he said.
“But we’re not a side that will sit around and wallow around in the middle part of the ladder for too long.
“We have to find our next group of players and we’ll continue to search for that.”
Clarkson was asked how long that process would take.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. “It could be 10 years – it could be 10 months.
“I don’t think it will be four months – I’d like to think it could be, but it’s highly unlikely, given we’re 3-4 now.”
Clarkson did not pull his punches, saying Melbourne also had work to do – but they would be dancing from the rooftops given they badly needed the win.
“Neither side showed anything today to suggest that they’re going be any threat come the end of the year – both sides have some work to do,” he said.
“Perhaps I’m discrediting Melbourne a little bit by putting them in the same bracket as us, but I genuinely think our ladder positions are pretty reflective of what we’re seeing on the park at the minute.”
Clarkson added Hawthorn were in constant judgment of which players would take them to their next flag.
“Right at the minute, we’re looking at our group and saying ‘listen, we’re a middle of the road side’,” he said.
“We can keep going down that track and end up a middle of the road side for the next four or five years, but that’s not how we go about it.
“Some of it will be methodology – some of it will be personnel.”