Karma Bomber and I attended Bomber's press conference this morning and I thought Bomber looked tired and lacking his usual bounce. Most of the questions were standard but two points were of interest.
Firstly he said that Carlisle was not working hard enough - no equivocation here but a bald statement.
Secondly Dempsey trained with the main group today and addressed the players before training - mea culpa, Humble Pie, its good to be back etc. etc. I'm pleased to see him back.
The season has reached an interesting stage where Bomber's long term strategies are clashing with the immediate tactical imperatives necessary on match day to win games.
Here are four of them from the pre-season.
1) We need to address the tendency to fall away at the end of the season. Thus we have seen relatively poor pre-season match form as the team went through a solid twelve week block of training that will presumably (hopefully) benefit the team in the latter part of the season. It could be argued that the indifferent showing of the past two games is part of this overall strategy - slower start, stronger finish.
2) Joe Daniher will be played in every possible game and will be a better player after thirty games. We must expect there will be some games where he doesn't play well but its something we must do for the long term strategy of his development as the key to the forward line. Daniher has kicked very few goals and not taken a lot of marks often going to ground when he misses them. Last week he was eventually played off the bench. Thus Bomber faces the tough decision of balancing an out of form but undroppable Joe, an out of form Carlisle and the return of a third big man in Bellchambers.
3) Daniher and Carlisle will constitute a successful forward line and need games together to develop an understanding and a forward system. (This has been hampered by Carlisle having to play in the ruck for two weeks.) So far they have produced little in terms of goals and marks (although other players have managed to put the score on the board in two games) and tactically you would be tempted to change this but strategically you can't.
4) Hurley back and Carlisle forward. So far Hurley is a marginally better player in the backline - at times good but so far not approaching the almost All Australian standard that Carlisle had set. Carlisle, according to the coach is on the cusp of being dropped and has been a clear loser in the swap so far. Again the long term strategy is for this to continue but it is leading to a degree of inflexibility tactically as we saw against St Kilda when many would have called for a swap.
The way in which Bomber handles the conflict between his long term strategies and the tactics of match day will be fascinating to watch and its resolution will determine whether his plan is that of a genius or stems from feet of clay.