Having written a number of pieces for The Roar, have you become aware that I like to yell at clouds?
Would you be surprised to learn I do this because Collingwood constantly troubles me?
Would you be shocked to hear me tell you that since the 2018 grand final they’ve gone backwards?
And that over those two years I’ve stockpiled a list of questions?
For instance, who agreed to the Dayne Beams deal? Why did Collingwood prioritise a midfielder when they had a dearth of key positioners? Who failed to do the due diligence on Beams? Or did Collingwood do the due diligence and move forward with the deal anyway? Was it a politicised move designed to beautify Collingwood’s image and show that one of their prodigal sons would return home?
Why did Collingwood overpay to acquire him given they didn’t desperately need him? Since Brisbane were eager to offload him, couldn’t Collingwood have taken a harder line? Why did Collingwood allow themselves to be dictated to when they held a stronger position? Was a 29-year-old midfielder really worth two first-round draft picks? Did Collingwood ever consider walking away from the deal?
Who at Collingwood didn’t factor in how Beams’s contract would bloat their salary cap and force James Aish to be squeezed out just one year later? And then to cause what looks like a fire sale two years later? Do these people not know how salary caps work? Isn’t that a handicap given the running of the club requires an understanding of finances?
Come 2019, who decided to abandon the daring, exciting, running game that catapulted the Pies up the ladder in 2018 and revert to a slow, indirect, possession-heavy game plan that saw Collingwood play stagnant, uninspiring, backwards football in 2019?
Are the club truly oblivious that what we saw was the same indecisive, error-laden strategy that shot them to mediocrity in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017? Who thought this was a good style to resurrect?
Was it the same people who decided to play a high-possession style for three quarters in the deluge that flooded the 2019 preliminary final? Coming out of 2019, were there not warnings about what to avoid for 2020? Why did they persevere? What is the definition of insanity? Is it trying this gameplan again? Are Collingwood just trolling us? Will they unveil a banner at some point that simply says, ‘Punked!’?
Given Collingwood’s lack of quality key positioners, why did they not retain a draft pick to net Jake Riccardi? Isn’t a prospective key forward exactly what they need? Why do they instead draft a preponderance of flanker types? Why do they insist on accumulating a swath of smaller, lighter players? When players are getting bigger and stronger across the competition, why are Collingwood persevering with lighter and smaller?
Why do Collingwood seem to believe that the best way of filling a key position is by recruiting a ruckman? Given the game has had only one genuinely freakish ruck-sized forward (Paul Salmon), why do Collingwood persevere with this strategy?
If they’re going to insist on this strategy, why is it they seemed to exile Mason Cox for a chunk of 2020? If they’re going to use Mason Cox as a forward, why do they not play him out of the goal square? Wouldn’t that seem the logical place to position a goliath? Wouldn’t you orbit crumbers at his feet? Wouldn’t you then try and get the ball in there quickly and directly? Is this too logical? Do Collingwood and logic not go together?
While other clubs found ways to retain assistants in 2020, why is it Collingwood abandoned the highly rated Gary Hocking? Did they explore options to keep some of the assistant coaches? Given the grand finalists did, wouldn’t it have seemed a good idea to remain as staffed as possible? If coaches had to be cast off, wouldn’t you cast off coaches whose messages are now well known?
Why do they continue to rely on the same triumvirate of Nathan Buckley, Robert Harvey and Brenton Sanderson that has failed to produce ultimate success? Why do they believe that this triptych will generate new ideas given that in 2020 they decided regression was their best means forward? Doesn’t it tell the club something that their assistants Justin Longmuir and Matthew Boyd have been taken but the incumbents remain blissfully ignored?
Remember that criticism about the way Collingwood played in 2019? Why did they do it all over through the bulk of 2020? At what point do these people realise this game plan is not going to click? How many more seasons do they need to try it before they see what everybody else has been complaining about?
Given none of their forwards were offering the same return they did in 2018, why did nobody at the club consider going back to the strategies employed in that season? Why did it take until their first final against the Eagles for a change to be wrought? Is it a case of 18th time’s a charm? Is this any way to run a team? In 2021 should we expect our best game to be in Week 1 of the finals? Do we really expect to make finals again playing stodgy football?
Is there a possibility that we might address our midfield woes? Can we teach our dominant ruckman and midfielders to communicate? Why hasn’t this been remedied? Do they not realise it was a significant factor in the 2018 grand final loss? And then throughout 2019? And then again in the 2019 preliminary final loss? And then throughout 2020? What was that definition of insanity again? Is it a surprise that keeps coming up?
When Brodie Grundy and his manager demanded a seven-year contract, who thought that was a good idea for a ruckman so reliant on his athleticism? Who determined that Grundy would still be effective in seven years given all Collingwood’s recent history with tall players – Darren Jolly, Nathan Brown, Ben Reid, Travis Cloke – is that they’ve all experienced rapid declines? Do they think Grundy will be the exception? Why? Is Collingwood truly a club where longevity exists?
If Grundy is so prized, why did Collingwood not rest him when they had that packed schedule of four games in four different states in 14 days? Why does it seem from the outside looking in that they ran him into the ground? Why did they not rotate more heavily through this period? Why did they not try their other draftees, rather than going back to more of the same?
Why has nobody advised the president to keep a low profile? How can he have committed a string of gaffes in recent years and still be given license to blather? How is it nobody suggested he shouldn’t publicly come out so strongly over COVID indiscretions given how horribly it could possibly backfire?
After it did backfire, why did nobody tell him outright just to shut up and not say anything that could come back to bite him and the club? When it bit him yet again, did he – and the club – not realise what a laughing-stock they appeared? How has nobody reconciled that these distractions are harmful to the team’s preparation?
How is it that this keeps happening over the years and yet it’s never remedied? Do they think at some point that all the bluster will work? How well did it work for John Elliot at Carlton? Is there any fear that such a long presidency will – as it did at Carlton with John Elliott – lead to stagnancy and poor decision-making? Has that day already come? Is it already long behind us? What do you think?
Why did Eddie McGuire state that Jeremy Cameron was always going to Geelong like Tom Lynch was always going to Richmond? Is McGuire not aware that we expect the club to seduce players into choosing Collingwood as their destination over our rivals? Isn’t that how recruiting and free agency works? Can he not fathom that we want to believe we’re in with a chance of snaring these sorts of players?
If those clubs got to those players earlier, why is that the case? Why weren’t we the first? Do we just give up? Can’t we poach them the way Sydney poached Lance Franklin from going to GWS and Kurt Tippett from going to Brisbane? Did we try? Can we at least try? Or is the actual truth that those clubs are just run better than Collingwood?
Why is it that Collingwood so rarely seems the destination of choice for big names? Are Collingwood that unattractive? How do Richmond and Geelong manage these deals and keep their salary caps in check while Collingwood has to jettison players to keep the list they have?
Who decided to sign Adam Treloar to a humongous deal and long-term contract after he tore both hamstrings in 2018 and hasn’t yet proven his return to full capacity? How does a player they fought hard to court and bring to the club so quickly become sacrificial? Why has it been revealed that he might be “hard to coach”? Have they considered it’s not that he’s “hard to coach” but that he’s badly coached? Have they considered he might fare better on the outside where he can use his run?
How has this whole Treloar affair been handled so clumsily? Is it healthy for the club and their brand for this to be aired so publicly? Doesn’t this look like amateur hour? And we’re expecting these people to continue running the club? Is their intent to run it into the ground? Have they seen their members voice their disapproval on social media? As an aside, given a 2020 membership meant nothing in Victoria due to COVID, will the club discount 2021 memberships?
Since Treloar seems such a popular figure, have Collingwood considered how this treatment of him could affect morale? If they’re going to ditch Treloar, wouldn’t other players feel they might also be at risk down the line? Wouldn’t prospective recruits fear the same could happen to them should they come to Collingwood? If I’m the next big thing looking for a new club, why would I choose Collingwood after this debacle?
Going back to Dayne Beams, why has his contract settlement become such a protracted saga? While the club assures us that everything will be fine, do they realise how frustrated supporters are that this deal has compromised their list management? How is it that it seems we’re struggling to hold onto players and yet we’re holding onto somebody who doesn’t want to play?
Have they done everything possible to reconcile with Heritier Lumumba?
Why does Jordan de Goey seem so wayward?
Why did they arbitrarily delist Matthew Scharenberg rather than trade him out, even if it was for a low pick?
How could they consider trading Jaidyn Stephenson? Do they really believe one bad season in a young player’s career makes him expendable? Do they remember he won the Norwich Rising Star in 2018? Do they recall he was playing just fine as a forward in 2019 until his suspension?
How can other clubs efficiently manage contract negotiations but all the big contracts at Collingwood become more convoluted than a Netflix limited series?
While opposition clubs are targeting important needs and quality recruits, how does Collingwood plan to galvanise their list? What is going on with the list? Why is it that we hear so much about the possible outgoings and yet we’re not legitimately connected to a single incoming?
Are they going to address their gameplan? Is there a chance that they might devise a game plan for the playing list at their disposal? Or are we going to see yet again the return of the horrible game plan? Do they know that most fans don’t know what to expect from week to week? Are they aware that 2018 simply looks like an outlier?
What is their vision for the future? Do they have a plan for the future? Aren’t they concerned that opposition clubs are moving past them? If they claim they are right in the mix, are they unaware that the ladder for the last two seasons suggests otherwise?
Given Collingwood finished second in 2018, fourth in 2019 and sixth in 2020, what is their plan for 2021 to arrest their downward trend? Is their plan realistic? How close do they think they are to a premiership? Are they still operating off the currency of 2018? Do they not understand how quickly it can change? Have they not seen that it has already changed?
If they truly don’t fear that opposition clubs have moved past them or are moving past them, why not? Do they think they are finishing lower and lower because of extenuating circumstances? Are those extenuating circumstances injuries? Why do injuries keep happening at the club? How are they going to be remedied?
While every club makes mistakes, are Collingwood aware that their last two years makes them look inept?
With many among the Collingwood faithful growing increasingly disgruntled, how will the Collingwood brains trust assuage their fears? Will Collingwood conduct a period of self-evaluation and identify, acknowledge and address their problems? Will they make significant change?
Is there any genuine message they could offer us that will assure us things will get better?
Or will it be more of the typical ‘side by side’ rhetoric that is the equivalent of a used car salesman’s pitch and means nothing meaningful to anybody?
Are they aware of the growing movement where many are demanding change at every level of the club? Is Nathan Buckley still safe in his job after nine years at the helm? If so, why? Is Eddie McGuire still safe in his presidency after 21 years in the position? Isn’t it all beginning to feel a bit stale? And complacent? And unadventurous?
While Collingwood’s credo is “only the best”, who is the best at what they do at the club? Can they name a single position where they have the best person in that role? If they don’t have the best person in those roles, why do they claim “only the best”?
Why has dread replaced the excitement?
Where do we go from here?
Can you believe this is only two years’ worth of questions?
When do the clouds clear?