Remember when Melbourne was meant to have a dynasty?
Melbourne’s media-determined dynasty was ephemeral to the point where you can be forgiven for missing it.
Now, if you do support Melbourne, you’re left wondering what all went wrong, so save yourself the hassle and just read on.
This club is at a crucial juncture in its history and this is coming from a club which has faced crippling debts and a merger claim and Mark Neeld.
It cannot be stressed enough how crucial this off-season is because Melbourne cannot waste yet another year where the club’s key players are in their prime.
There’s a lot of apologists in the Melbourne corps who have pointed to the fact there’ll be an internal review at the end of the season, that coaching changes have been made already and the fitness department is being overhauled.
Let’s be clear; this is a team which didn’t watch or review its preliminary final loss to West Coast because it was an ‘aberration’.
With the benefit of hindsight, it was not an aberration but rather it was or at least has become the norm.
To be entirely truthful would be to say Melbourne lacked the conviction to call itself to task and be ‘ruthless to be better’ as Simon Goodwin has cultishly repeated during his tenure. Now we’re expected to watch as they do an internal review?
They didn’t want to watch the preliminary final because it hurt too much. Because they couldn’t see that other sides had them figured out.
Because they were arrogant enough to think that they were very good at football when in all actuality, they’ve strung together one decent season of football in the past decade.
How can you be trusted to review yourself now when you couldn’t one year ago?
Also, why is it an internal review? If you are a premiership contender, rated by Champion Data as the best list in the AFL prior to the season and you walk away from that season sitting just above the Gold Coast Suns, who were tipped by some pundits to go winless this season after seeing a bevy of talent leave them, not one employee should be tasked with reviewing an elite sporting club.
You should be tasked with taking a really hard look at yourself, wondering how you can justify that you’re competent at your job.
After that you should be forced face the music by someone who won’t be seduced by how ‘tight-knit’ the club is, because the AFL doesn’t give out awards for being the ‘matest mates who ever lived’, they give out a premiership for consistent performance in a cut-throat competition which involves playing the most physically demanding sport on earth.
Melbourne cannot be trusted anymore. They’ve burnt that bridge and while that trust has been tested in recent years, you could rationalise it because Melbourne was rebuilding and unlike The Block that can’t be completed in 12 weeks. Nowadays, they’re meant to be good and they’re so far from even being AFL standard, it is something of an achievement in itself.
Melbourne is now facing the prospect of another rebuild because while the rest of the AFL has transitioned to pursing quality forward entries rather than quantity, Melbourne’s decided to be beholden to numerous who lack basic fundamental disposal skills and any semblance of efficiency up forward but hey, they compete.
Being a ‘competitor’ is hard to quantify because by dictionary definition if you are on the field, you are a ‘competitor’ but peculiar to the Melbourne niche, they just run around a lot without touching the ball.
When they do, they turn it over (Melbourne ranks third worst for disposal efficiency) and by a divine miracle, if it gets up forward, they miss (Melbourne ranks 4th worst for goal efficiency).
Simon Goodwin has assured us all season long that it’s okay, to the point where we should be concerned if he’s stuck in a trance – because it isn’t okay, it’s woeful and it hasn’t improved in the slightest.
This potential rebuild would come after the renovation project by Paul Roos which came after Mark Neeld’s demolition job which came after Dean Bailey was tasked with the original rebuild.
So, when exactly, do we get to kick back and enjoy a competent football team?
That might seem alarmist but consider this: if you support a team which in the past 13 seasons has won five games or less in seven of those seasons and lacks any drab of winning culture, would you believe more in their ability to turn the ship around or feebly submit to being mediocre again?
You know it’d be the latter.
Hopefully, when it comes time to conduct the review, Melbourne actually does it. Their words about wanting to be better don’t match their actions so they’ve deservedly cultivated a lack of trust amongst their supporters.
They can rebuild it if they want too but it’s time to put away the brash, over-confident, faux-bravado and just put in the hard work.
If not for themselves, or their teammates or because they should want success, do it for the fans, they’ve suffered enough.