I think last nights game was the game that informs us how we proceed from here. I started writing this post with a view to plot our comeback into contention this year, now we know we need to rotate players in and out of the side more to keep them fresh enough to actually be competitive. But when I looked ahead, I didn’t see a good chance at a win before round 12 and I didn’t see a game we should win until round 15. Clunk … the sound of the lid going on.
We knew physically we were up against it with the build up to the Adelaide game, and the older and more physically oriented returning players were affected more than the rest, with Trav being both younger and a less bang and crash player. So rather than not knowing how the players will come up after the break, we now do know and will have to start managing Jobe and co. accordingly.
With a 10 day break it is reasonable to think the returning players will come up OK, so my optimism is still relatively intact for the Collingwood game. But history says don’t get our hopes up too high.
Hitting the wall against the Crows, followed by a break will probably makes the players more match hardened and more resilient going forward, but they will still need to be managed and it is this thought that has got me looking at the fixture. Unfortunately I came away thinking, we cannot expect to win more than 10 or 11 games this season and it may only be 8 or so (see fixture review below).
It is time to experiment with managing the returning players so they don’t play “fried”, especially in the game against Melbourne 5 days after ANZAC day (that will be a very interesting selection dilemma).
Looking at the draw, it is looking much harder than it did to me at the at the start of the year, with road trips agains Freo, Giants, Swans and Suns on the agenda, one five and five 6 day breaks.
I am thinking, while usually being the eternal optimist, that we will be lucky to finish the year with over 10 wins. This means we may well be playing with a view towards 2018 sooner rather than later, with the senior players who may be in line for retirement taking on a mentoring / onfield / on training track coaching role, much like the top ups did last year. Looking at the fixture …
Round 5 Tuesday, April 25
ESS v COLL
We’re a chance - yes, a good one as it turns out.
Round 6 Sunday, April 30
ESS v MELB
Should be a good chance, but after a five day break, managing fatigue will probably mean a lot of changes which could destabilise our line up. (I will claim this one too).
Round 7 Sunday, May 07
FRE v ESS
Freo seem to have their mojo back and Subiaco is always a hard gig. (nearly got this one wrong).
Round 8 Saturday, May 13
ESS v GEEL
Trip back from Perth and a 6 day break before a big game against a top side, thanks Gill. (I might have got the top side bit wrong - certainly exceeded my expectations though).
Round 9 Sunday, May 21
ESS v WCE
Not looking an easy match, but should be a chance. (More than that as it turned out).
Round 10 Saturday, May 27
RICH v ESS
The Tigers are flying at the moment, hopefully this won’t continue, but looking difficult at this stage with a six day break.
Round 11 Saturday, June 03
GWS v ESS
At this stage I am thinking, Fark this fixture.
Round 12 Saturday, June 10
ESS v PORT
Really, really want this to b a good game for us. First good chance of a win and this is 10 rounds after our last win at this point. Still no gimme.
Round 13 BYE
We won’t lose this week.
Round 14 Friday, June 23
SYD v ESS
Lets hope their still not playing well, but Sydney in Sydney is not easy, and coming off the bye is not always good for form.
Round 15 Sunday, July 02
ESS v BL
At last one we should win (but I don’t like the should bit, that makes me worry).
Round 16 Saturday, July 08
COLL v ESS
We tend to do better in the non ANZAC matches, but still not over confident. A good chance though even with a six day break, but not too hectic before this.
Round 17 Friday, July 14
STK v ESS
Two six day breaks in a row and playing a side who will probably be similarly ranked, will be harder than it should be, and it wasn’t going to be easy.
Round 18 Saturday, July 22
ESS v NMFC
I’m hopeful for this one.
Round 19 Sunday, July 30
WB v ESS
We’ll give this one a crack, but the Bullies seem to do enough to win most of the time at the moment.
Round 20 Saturday, August 05
ESS v CARL
We better be up for this one. Should hit them pretty hard I would think, even with a six day break.
Round 21 Saturday, August 12
ESS v ADEL
I would think we will want to be on our game for this one, should do better, but not expecting to win.
Round 22 Saturday, August 19
GCFC v ESS
Gazza may be getting ready to pull the curtains, so I think GC will be up for this. A chance.
Round 23 Sunday, August 27
ESS v FRE
I would see us wanting to put on a show to try to win this one. A good chance.
So am I being too pessimistic? Or do we need to admit the “realists” (gloomers) have got it right. Still it can be a very enjoyable season looking at Zerrett, Pidget (McGrath), Raz, Walla, Green, Joey, Trav, Darcy, Franga, Ambruise, The Langford maybe Lav, Stewart, Mutch, McNeice, Begley and Conor flourish. Will be good seeing Hurls and Hooker (forward or back) gel better with the side, and see how Myers, TBC, Hartley and a number of others who I have neglected to mention go this year.
Roll on 2018, and we can start enjoying the preparation with some good wins along the way, but alas I fear, no finals in 2017.