Like I said in the other thread when people say “but we finished last and we to 7th this year”, no, last year was the outlier and exception to the rule where we were forced to play with ring ins. In 2012 we finished just outside the 8 after falling apart in June, in 2013/14 we finished around 7th-8th and in 2015 we were on until WADA appealed. This list has generally been around 7th-8th. We were not a true wooden spoon side, we had most our list missing.
I’ll start with the positives. We can literally thank out forwardline for most/any joy this year. Daniher is obviously a gun, Hooker I thought worked up forward for the most part, Fantasia is a star on his day, Tippa was mostly good apart from going quiet in the second half of the year and Stewart ended up finding his niche as a quality 3rd/4th forward. You can probably throw in Begley looking like he has something to work with and will fight for a spot with Green who whilst personally was average the team benefits from his presence imo.
Looking through the rest of the list for positives, Hurley was AA although we need to keep him far away from anything defensive, my god he was destroyed like a witches hat numeorous times and he needs to work on his “kick long to the flank” for every kick in thing he has going. Zach Merrett obviously our best in the middle, Parish was good in parts but lets be honest he had a down season, hopefully next year he shows his best parts for entire games. Gleeson impressed me from where I thought he was early in the year and McKenna definitely proved me wrong in cementing his spot. McGrath obviously the shining spot down back. Goddard and Baguley were passable and treaded water, both gave their all, but we’re stuck with the “he won’t improve us but can’t get rid of them” conundrum. Basically both are holes that are waiting to be fixed when they retire and I can’t see who does. So basically our forwardline was the only positive with maybe a few other players looking good in parts.
On the negatives, I can’t see how anyone would rate our season above a 7 or 8 at best. We had a soft, soft draw. Yeah we lost to those sh*t teams anyway but next year we’ll be getting lots more interstate trips that will be unwinnable for this fragile group. Trust me the draw we got this year was easy, next year we’ll be 6 day trips, bad Sunday games and going to play Freo over there. We made the finals off the back of scraping through on other teams falling over and it being a remarkably even season. We basically were handed the chance to blood kids this year and yet decided to blood games into the returning/older players that were horrendous. Howlett, Myers, Hocking, Stanton, Kelly, Goddard etc represent games that could have benefited next year for a kid but instead we played them…just cause. “But the kids didn’t earn it” I hear some say, FCK OFF. Mutch was great all year, Langford got dropped after one bad game after being great for most the year in the VFL, what a great message that sends to a kid. Meanwhile Howlett stunk it up with 12 touch nothing games and got games week after week. It took Begley all year to get the last 3 weeks. He could have had an extra 10 games. I’d rather play kids who might improve off only a little form than play older plebs who give nothing and don’t perform regardless. At least the kids MIGHT improve us. I like both Langford and Lav but we know less about them now than we did last year.
Our midfield is a shambles. Zerrett aside I don’t trust any of them to have a good game when we need them too. Heppell had about 3 really good games and the rest were mostly average. He’s laconic, seemed slower in both pace and smarts and got caught a lot throughout the year. I’m hoping it’s just this year otherwise I’d send him back to the HBF because he lacks presence in any shape or form. Zaharakis is good but he won’t be there when the going gets tough.Watson was mostly horrible no matter how much nostalgia we try and give it and pump up his average performances. Giving Myers 3 years was a shambolic decision and even more so when we look at how bad he is after year 1, he’d seriously be the most average player getting 22 games you’ll likely see. Poor foot skills, can’t handball and average contested ball winning skills at best. At best…I literally can’t think of any other semi decent midfielder. People say Langford will never be a midfielder but give him a year before we write him off, rather him than fcking Howlett or Myers.
Backline leaks goals like a sieve, in a throwback to the Knights era which you can either thank the midfield or backline for, it’s like what came first the chicken or the egg. Either way, we’re fcked. Ambrose is OK but I’m not sure we can carry both him and Hartley playing the restrictive roles, Harts needs to add some marking to his game or something. We need to find replacements for Kelly, Goddard, Bags and Jobe minimum in a year. McNiece looks ok but who knows if he’ll ever return. Bellchambers is typical good one week and caca the next 4. Luey literally can’t do anything other than win a hitout. Sooner we get Draper in the better.
When I think of the year I rate on where we’re going and how the list has progressed. I’m seeing more holes now than I did in 2014. Yes we won more games than we lost but from what we could have done, it’s a fail. I’d rather us have finished 12th and pumped games into kids. If I’m coach, next year our midfield looks like: Zerrett/McGrath/Parish with Zaka and Mutch getting game time. Hopefully get Rockliff and pray Heppell improves. I’m not saying it’s hopeless I’m just saying the year overall was a fail probably, there’s only so many Daniher/Faz/Tippa/Zerrett highlights you can watch before you start thinking about who’ll replace the Kelly or Goddard for starters. We need to draft midfielders and hit the free agency hard.