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.
Whatever could go wrong for Melbourne in 2019 seemed to do so, with the club finishing in 17th position with a return of only five wins for the year.
The results certainly made a mockery of my pre-season prediction the Demons could challenge for the premiership after playing in a preliminary final in 2018.
One of the big disappointments of the season was the output of Steven May.
The former Gold Coast skipper was acquired along with Kade Kolodjashnij in exchange for pick six in the trade period but the defender struggled with form and injury restricting him to only eight games for the season.
The expectation was that Steven May and Jake Lever would form a formidable defensive partnership. Lever also missed the majority of the season. Some luck on the injury front will see both players fulfilling pivotal roles next season and beyond.
It was apparent early last year that May was struggling with fitness levels and the 27-year-old never got into any rhythm or cohesion with persistent groin and hamstring injuries.
Simon Goodwin gave his new recruit a bit of a clip on radio in an interview with SEN only a month into the season when he questioned the physical condition May was in when he arrived at the club.
“I felt we always knew we had work to do with Steven,” the coach said.
“He walked in and he certainly knew he had a bit of work to do. He’ll get his rewards if he keeps working hard and stays in good shape. But he certainly won’t be coming back to pre-season in that nick again, that’s for sure.”
Not required to officially return to training until last week, the former Sun is keen to make amends for a poor year.
The defender is working with a Pilates coach, focusing on yoga work and also undertaking a personalised running program to ensure there are no repeats of the failed 2019 campaign.
As unacceptable as the season was for Melbourne, they lost seven games by margins of less than three goals. Some may call it blind faith but a variety of factors has me convinced the poor results in 2019 will prove to be an aberration.
The trade period saw Ed Langdon and Adam Tomlinson join the club and the Dees are well placed in the draft with two picks inside the top ten.
The off-season saw the highly sought-after Alan Richardson appointed as the director of coaching, and with fitness a major criticism levelled at the players throughout the year, the club responded by signing highly rated fitness guru Darren Burgess.
The time for redemption is almost here. Steven May and the whole club has addressed its shortcomings and next season should see a quick rise up the ladder.