As a proud Geelong man, it’s been a tough month of viewing.
Cats fans have become accustomed to Geelong’s slow play style in the last four or five years. Fans have been promised that the coaching panel just need a big recruit or two and the dream of another flag will be just around the corner.
However, as the last few years have shown us, no matter who plays in the mighty blue-and-white hoops, Geelong just can’t seem to get past the roaring pressure of the Tigers as well as other teams that have adapted to the modern game and chosen the speed and chaotic style of game.
The Geelong brand has changed too far away from what the Cats are and what they have tried to be as a club for decades. From the era of the Geelong flyer to the excitement of Gary Ablett, Geelong have been a team that may not have always got the chocolates, but boy, were they fun to watch.
You only have go back to the mid 2000s when Sydney and West Coast were defensive beasts and experts everywhere were asking how sides were going to score against them. The answer? Just straight down the Geelong highway. That to Geelong fans was what we’ve always wanted. Fast, skilful and quick game styles gave us something to cheer about.
We now sit through games bored and frustrated at this rigid, structured game style that’s truly taken all the entertainment and joy out of watching the game and team we love so much.
Ironically, the game style Geelong now play is in the same mould of the club we love to hate in Hawthorn. It’s become too much for the supporters to bare. We are a very understanding group, we know key players are out, we understand we have had a shorter pre-season than most and we get that the start of the season can show some sides are a bit more ready.
We can handle these excuses, but what we can’t handle is the same thing, year in and year out, expecting a different result. That is the definition of insanity.
This style has not been able to work under high pressure for the last four years, whether that pressure be the intensity of a finals game or the pressure placed on the ball carrier. As we have seen time and time again, it does not work against teams that heap pressure on Geelong, especially in the Cats’ back half.
Geelong have a defensive unit skilful enough by foot to be chipping the ball around, maintaining possession, and if the Cats did, I’m sure there would not be so much talk around it. Geelong need to make a change and they need to make it now.
It isn’t just the ball movement that’s the issue. Geelong have seemingly got no spark and unfortunately, it’s in a number of areas. There’s no zip in the Cats’ ball speed or leg speed. Sides are seemingly outpacing the Cats in both facets.
There is also no aggression or ferociousness to the team. Sides don’t fear Geelong when they have the ball. They are fending the Cats off, and running through Geelong’s lines and zones of coverage, and it’s because they’ve identified that Geelong don’t cut off the ball at the source.
Geelong run away from the ball carrier into their defence to try and intercept the long kick inside their 50. You’ve seen too many forward 50 entries from the opposition where the leader is coming to the direction of the kicker, which is catching the Cats off guard.
I would love to see Geelong try to be more aggressive when it comes heaping pressure on the opposition around the contest and allow less inside 50s altogether. Geelong need to find a way to get aggressive and put that fear back into sides that if they try to run and carry the ball through the Cats, someone will be there to apply pressure or a tackle.
That’s a Geelong team I want to see – not this clean-cut, high-possession nonsense that the Cats are playing now. The potential inclusions for this week should help this week and the farewell of some of the club’s past champions will hopefully inspire the team to put on a great show for us all.
Let’s hope this Sunday is a catalyst.