Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin wants his dominant AFL side to go to another level as they seek to absorb the rise in expectation and pressure that comes with premiership favouritism.
The Demons staged an epic second-half comeback to defeat Brisbane by 22 points in western Sydney on Friday night, claiming yet another big scalp.
Goodwin declared the second half was as “good as” his team have played – a fair effort given an 11-1 record that also includes impressive wins over Richmond, the Western Bulldogs and Geelong.
Lions coach Chris Fagan became the latest good judge to heap praise on Melbourne, describing them as the best opposition that Brisbane have faced this season.
Goodwin noted the victory, coming after a flat start in which Brisbane eased to a 20-point halftime lead, would hold his charges in good stead throughout the rest of 2021.
“We want to be in a position where people do have high expectations of us because it creates pressure,” Goodwin said.
“And to do what you want to do, you have to be able to perform under pressure.
“We understand there’s a lot of excitement among our supporters and playing group… we know we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“Our challenge is to keep improving, keep stepping up to these challenges and making sure we’re ready to go when the time comes.”
Fagan described Melbourne’s 11-1 start as a “phenomenal effort”.
“And their loss was by the smallest of margins,” Fagan said.
“You have to take your hat off to them and what they’re doing at this stage of the year.”
Melbourne, who next face Collingwood at the SCG in their annual Queen’s Birthday clash, will fly home on Saturday then return to Sydney on the eve of their final game before the mid-season bye.
“We’re looking to get the crowd that the game deserves. It’s a special occasion,” Goodwin said.
“We’re looking to fill the SCG come next Monday.
“The crowd (on Friday night) was brilliant. I didn’t realise we had so many supporters in Sydney.”
Speedster Jayden Hunt suffered a knock to his shoulder on Friday night, but played out the rest of the game.
“We’ll assess that during the week, but he looks fine,” Goodwin said.