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Carlton Blues season preview: Cool your finals hopes

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Roar Guru
3rd February, 2020
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After yet another disastrous season for the Carlton army with another coach getting sacked, Carlton elected to sign caretaker coach David Teague, who won six out of a possible 11 games, to a three-year deal late last season.

Carlton have won just 21 games in the last four years and it will be expected that Teague, off a seven-win season in 2019, will be pushing for a double-digit win tally for the first time since 2013.

In this piece, we will take an in-depth look at the list and how I think they’ll go in 2020.

Best 22
FB: Lachie Plowman, Liam Jones, Kade Simpson
HB: Sam Docherty, Jacob Weitering, Caleb Marchbank
C: Sam Walsh, Patrick Cripps, Will Setterfield
HF: Mitch McGovern, Harry McKay, Jack Martin
FF: Eddie Betts, Charlie Curnow, David Cunningham
FOL: Matthew Kreuzer, Ed Curnow, Marc Murphy
INT: Sam Petrevski-Seton, Jack Silvagni, Zac Fisher, Jack Newnes

Defence
The individual talent in the Carlton defence will get Blues fans excited yet again, and with a fit Sam Docherty and Caleb Marchbank, they should improve this season.

However, there is a long way to go still for a back six that was statistically one of the worst in the competition last season, conceding the third-most points of any team in the competition.

The defensive depth is incredibly thin, as shown last year with horrible defensive performances when either of Jones or Marchbank missed through injury.

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Jacob Weitering is the key to this defence improving and it’s hard to see him improving much at all. He looks like he is constantly in two minds when attacking the football and obviously as a key defender in the modern game, you have to have a load of confidence in your ability. He is only 22, which helps his cause, but you feel like this is a make or break year for the number one pick of 2015.

It’s very hard to see this back six becoming a top ten defence in 2020 and it could very easily hold Carlton back from improving and moving out of the bottom half of the ladder.

Midfield
The Carlton midfield is clearly the best part of their team and with some better coaching in 2020, they could easily develop into a finals calibre outfit.

Patrick Cripps is one of the premier midfielders in the competition and was unlucky not to win the Brownlow Medal last year, while Marc Murphy was rejuvenated when going back to the midfield and could be ready for another great season as he nears retirement.

Patrick Cripps

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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Sam Walsh had one of the better first years of any player in the game’s history as he averaged 25 disposals a game and won the Rising Star Award. Another good year is expected as he makes his way in the league.

The query surrounding the Carlton midfield is that they are slow and get hurt on the spread. Cripps, Murphy and Walsh form a very good three-pronged attack, but none of them are fast. Carlton’s other midfielders like Ed Curnow, Will Setterfield and David Cunningham aren’t quick either, which is a worry.

Their issue regarding speed is evident by them ranking fourth in the league for clearances while being ranked 16th in disposals per game. They are getting their hands on the ball first, but aren’t making any constructive plays out of it due to their lack of unity when spreading away from the contest.

For this reason, Sam Petrevski-Seton and new recruit Jack Martin will need to improve for the Blues to become an elite midfield. Both of them have elite speed and kicking ability, which is what the midfield is crying out for.

Attack
On paper, the Carlton forward line looks okay with youngsters Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay leading the attack after combining for nearly 50 goals last season.

However, the issue is whether Curnow, in particular, can stay on the park. Reports say he may miss the first half of the season with yet another knee injury and without him, the forward line looks weak.

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McKay will now have to carry the burden of leading a forward line after only playing 35 games and the second key forward will be Mitch McGovern, who turned up to pre-season overweight last year.

Carlton threw everything at trying to get Tom Papley from the Swans in the trade period to fill the void of a good small forward, however, missed out and had to settle for a most likely retiring Eddie Betts.

Besides Betts, the Blues don’t have any other small forwards. Jack Silvagni, Jack Martin, Zac Fisher and David Cunningham are all more midfielders than forwards and due to this, the Blues will yet again be lacking pressure in their forward line.

Prediction
Under a new regime, the Carlton faithful will be expecting to push for finals in 2020. However, it is yet again unlikely that they will.

On every line, there are plenty of question marks surrounding improvement or stagnation, and it would be ignorant to think that every question mark is going to be answered with flying colours.

It wouldn’t completely surprise if the Blues shot up the ladder this season, but I’m predicting a finish similar to what they did in 2019.

Predicted finish: 16th

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