This thread is going to be entertaining when rock up to round 1 in 2018 with the exact same midfield, minus Jobe who is replaced with our first pick in the draft.
Our forwardline is at the level that we need and still has a lot of scope for improvement.
Our backline needs a clean out with the likes of Baguley needing to be moved on and possibly Hartley as well (he is handy depth and could get to a good level, but he has been given multiple baths this year and it’s as if he and Gleeson somehow switched brains and they both think that they’re in the other players body) however, he is still young and does possess a lot of tools required to become an AFL level defender and key position players usually tend to take longer to develop so he is worth persisting with for now IMO. Kelly I would give another year to but only if someone taps Disco on the shoulder and says “pull ya farking digit out and do whatever it takes to get some elite level players onto the list” because if we aren’t going to be serious about contending and addressing our deficiencies then there is no point giving another year to Kelly and we should blood a kid in his position instead.
Now, as stated a million times above, our midfield is the worst area of our team where the biggest issues lie. Watson, Stanton, Howlett and Hocking all have to be moved on and that’s a non-negotiable, however, the club won’t get rid of them all so realistically I can see Howlett and Hocking playing another year but ideally we shouldn’t be giving Howlett a new contract at all.
We have some good talent in the midfield with Heppell, Merrett, Zaharakis and Parish and then it falls off a cliff and that is being generous. So we currently have 4 AFL standard midfielders when we need about 8-10 who aren’t all glacier types of slow.
For years I have heard the phrase “midfielders are a dime a dozen” and it is implied that they are easier to find and develop than key position players unless it seems, you are Essendon who haven’t addressed this ever in Disco’s reign other than getting Goddard as a Free Agent who you could argue is a utility and not a midfielder anyway.
This year there is Dustin Martin, Josh Kelly and Tom Rockliff on the open market that would instantly go a long way to addressing our midfield problems. If I were the CEO or the board, I’d be tapping Disco on the shoulder and saying that as good as he has been draft-wise he will be either moved on or demoted if he fails to get at least one of those names listed above or at least a player of a similar quality to those listed above because you aren’t going to win a grand final in the AFL solely built around the draft. It. Does. Not. Happen.
Our best 22 IMO looks like this:
FB: McGrath, Hurley, Gleeson
HB: Kelly, Hartley, McKenna
C: Parish, --------, Zaharakis
HF: Stewart, Hooker, McDonald-Tipungwuti
FF: Fantasia, Daniher, Green
FOL: Bellchambers, Heppell, Z.Merrett
Bench: Colyer, Laverde, Goddard, -------
So we need at least a minimum of two new midfielders for our starting 22 who are nothing short of Elite.
So the positive:
Best forwardline we’ve had in 17 years who can kick big scores week in, week out.
Some really young and exciting prospects already entrenched in the 22 who still have a lot of room to improve ie McGrath, Parish, McKenna and Merrett.
A backline that is perhaps only missing more games into the likes of Gleeson, McKenna, Hartley, McGrath until it becomes very dependable.
Elite level key position players in Hurley, Hooker and Daniher.
Getting good value for players lost since 2012 due to the saga with Crameri getting us Zach Merrett, Carlisle getting us Parish/Francis, Ryder getting us Langford (if he gets to where we expect him to get to).
Plenty of salary cap room to offer to FA/Trades and retain our own players.
Great training facilities to help entice players to the club.
Record membership numbers.
A few players who are/were vital who are passed their best or retiring this year or in the near future ie Watson, Goddard and Kelly.
Deadwood that needs to be moved on ie Howlett, Hocking, McKernan, Baguley and J.Merrett to name a few.
A prior history of our list manager being unable to attract elite level talent to the club via trades or FA.
Losing key players over the past few years that would be in our starting 22 if it weren’t for the saga ie Ryder, Crameri, Carlisle, Hibberd, Melksham (wasn’t a key player but has had a really good year for Melbourne and seems to have improved a fair bit).
Debt from the saga.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this off-season will shape the club for the next 5 years, whether that be good or bad and it solely rests on the shoulders of Adrian Dodoro.
There is a reason why so many people fail to see a heap of positives and I get it and we still have a long way to go and if anything, this club needs to become ruthless on and off the field again and catch up to other teams in terms of player recruitment and trading/free agency.
There is a lot to be positive about IMO but we have to continue to add to it and hopefully Woosha is going to do just that this off-season.
I apologise for the obscenely long post.