Target fixation and the Essington cycle


Beautifully said. Love it'


I'm just so glad there are other supporters who can acknowledge how much of an issue this is... and has been for some time.

Supporters views/opinions clearly have no bearing on results... but I'm sure there is the collective eye roll pre-game when there are predictions of "thrashings" whenever we play so called 'weaker' sides. Why? Because it just never happens. Just when we think a change is in the air, the result gets worse. Previous posters in this thread have already referenced several games I was thinking about.

Upsets happen... to all teams... absolutely. But ours would have to be the deadset worst for a number of reasons.

We played the bottom side at home on the weekend... with hardly a player on the injury list... and still couldn't get the job done. The writing was on the wall in the 1st Quarter when a majority of players were in cruise control.

Is it our fault as supporters? Do we get too excited after a decent performance or two and just expect the team to 'click' into gear? Are there too many egos in the playing group that enjoy drinking their own bath water? We've done nothing to justify some of the arrogance that was evident prior to the Brisbane game and as usual... it hurts us all, especially when a return to finals was probably on the line and we still couldn't get the job done.



I think Saladin is on to something and Dodga has asked the right question.

At it's simplest it is like shouting at someone who is balancing something delicately, "Don't drop it!". The moment a person thinks this is the moment they drop it.

Was I alone at the end of the game thinking, "We are going to lose this!"?

Players express this sort of feeling as "going into your shell", losing the flow of the game; and then the side that has nothing to lose gets a run on.

It is very difficult to think your way out of this situation, negative thinking creeps in very easily and quickly, group think, as Saladin hints, can take over both negatively and positively; and in the case of Essendon and Brisbane or Essendon and Sydney both happened simultaneously.

Wanting not to lose, helps you lose.

Thinking positively is better.

Not thinking at all and being in The Zone is the best.

Getting some Mindfulness training is a great idea if the whole team can embrace it. This means exercising your focus and concentration so it becomes stronger and you can stay in the moment, be unfailingly vigilant.

Ironically having a grumpy, frustrated, long suffering colossus of a supporter base doesn't help you stay focussed. The side shouldn't be worrying about us, they shouldn't be worrying about anything other how to stay focussed when they need to be.

If they can do that, they won't be worrying at all.


I wasn't in Melbourne to see the Geelong, West Coast and Port games. But we got off to a flyer in the Geelong and Port games and kicked straight. Whenever we don't capitalize early on against the weaker teams they smell the blood and know they can beat us. We are mentally weak because our leaders are psychologically scarred from past results. Do you really think Jobe Watson and co believe as a group they will win? The losses over their careers have been so demoralizing there is no chance in hell it doesn't enter the back of their minds and affect their performance.

There are no good learning experiences from the last two weeks. They are horrible horrible results that should not happen. They will haunt the leadership group in years to come.


I thnk that since 2001 essendon has been very poor at list management. We have overrated the list for years. Case I point, sheeds drafting mal michael, campo and Murphy. What was the point of that?

Another example, was choosing knights over hardwick because apparently hardwick thought we needed a complete rebuild compared to knights that thought the list was solid.

To some extent we did the same thing again this year by picking up all the suspended players again. However, having said that the club had no choice but to do that. Not offering a last season to those guys would have been a bit of a dog act. However, it has probably delayed the drafting of some new blood / development of younger players.

Not sure what the solution is. The club needs to be realistic about where it is and what needs to happen to become dominant once again. There are no short cuts and rose coloured glasses help no one. I'm hoping it is tweaking but if it isn't let's just get on with it. I want to get back to the days where we expected to win. Winning a final would be a good start.

I look back to the hird's last years as a player and how essendon would basically leave it to hird to win games of footy. To few contributors. We can't let that mentality continue. Hard decisions need to be made. Or players called to account.

I am hopeful. But not expecting.


It's just been so long since we won a flag. Put it this way, the last time we won a flag I had never even had a bl0wjob. Can you believe that? And now it's been so so long that I have had two OR maybe even three. My how time flies.


Hey Im married and straight but if you can get me to flag no 5 then well..... I will consider......shouting you beer or a fine single malt.


No deal


Look, last week was terrible, really. As Yossarian said you could see it in the first half, it was a repeat of the Melbourne game and the Carlton games this year.

Obviously we need to work on it, but we just aren't good enough at this point in time that we can expect to play to our best each week.

Yes, I believe this responsibility is that of the coaches, to get the players up, and to fix this at the breaks. If we could all see it, then surely the coaches should. Do they just "back the players to turn it around", because it hasn't always worked.

In any case, from a supporters perspective, it's up to the club to make the next move, and to suck us back in, because as a supporter that display said "no finals, season over, expect to get belted most games from here on out".

Admittedly, I was a LOT more bouyant after the swans game and penciling in a few straight wins in the lead up to finals.

A week is a long time in footy, and it could be the loss that we never forget.

But it's up to the club now to convince me they are worth watching, because that was farken ■■■■■.


People are trying to make it far more complicated than it need be. Does anyone not think you walk past Hawthorne's trophy cabinet on the way in? Has Stkilda's lack cups in the foyer inspired them to the ultimate success? I'm not saying that arrogance and more specifically complacency haven't been a part in the clubs demise but for mine the biggest factor is far more straight forward. Our list management and talent develop have been poor. The club under Jackson cared more about a profit than ensuring we had the best people at the club. Better players and a lot more wins and all of the other stuff doesn't seem so much an issue anymore.
The league post 2000 became a lot more professional. Gone were the zones that had seen guys like Misiti & Mercs gifted to us and finding talent through the draft became Paramount. We were left floundering with amateur staff and facilities. The nett result was we added very little talent to the club and didn't properly develop the players we had. As the premiership players were replaced we were falling further and further behind. We've never recovered from that talent drain. We drafted some good players, filled some holes with recycled guys but I just don't believe we have had the cattle to be a really good on-field team even if everything else at the club was fine. We were building close to a genuine contender when the saga hit but even then I don't think we batted deep enough to really be a force. In an era where mids dominate we've only drafted 1 star who's almost faded with only 1 heir apparent. Until we have a midfield that can consistently control matches, everything else
will be pointless and I'm willing to bet once we have a good list the other problems won't seem to be holding us back.


I'd add that once we recognised the issue we were stuck with years of compromised drafts that made fixing it a problem. And then the saga led to compromised ability to fix it.


Its not talent or lack thereof that causes things like the loss to brisbane (and various others). Its not really a list management issue either.

That team on Sunday was good enough to win. No doubt.

Its between the ears.


Brisbane's team was also good enough to win. I think a lack of talent has absolutely been a major reason for the fade outs that we've been seeing for a long time. When you're not playing at your best talent alone can keep you in the game. A fully dedicated team can beat a more talented team who are less motivated no doubts at all but I don't think we have been a talented enough side to survive the peaks & troughs of momentum through games let alone seasons. How many 4 qtr performances has the club produced this decade???

A talented side can survive not being at 100% for longer. Last week against Sydney we ultimately fell short because we didn't have a midfield who could win the footy when we needed it. I believe we simply don't have the running capacity of the better sides & rely very heavily on too few to get our wins. Against Brisbane we couldn't counter the influence of Zorko & our best mid this year was well down. We can't sustain our best (nobody can) & the lack of talent means the drop off is far more significant.


Definitely this. Let's use the bottom 6 philosophy to evaluate the weekends team.

  1. Green - a specialist sml forward with 13 goals for the year. Delisted by last year's wooden Spooner.

  2. Hartley- former VFL defender who averages about 10 possessions per game.

  3. Kelly - a 34 yr old who was delisted 2 years ago.

  4. McKenna - Irish player who is, unsurprisingly, wildly inconsistent in his output.

  5. Colyer- an occasionally damaging outside player who is very out of form.

  6. Baguley- a solid, honest, truer who offers very little offensively.

Take the Essendon blinkers off, and tell me you wouldn't always give yourself a chance against us?

We are making serious progress, but we aren't there yet and it has nothing to do with bad Essendon karma and everything to do with talent.


And therein lies (one of) the problems we have... our list is nowhere near good enough. It's a combination of circumstances making us "indebted" to the 10 returning players (half of which are now undeniably cooked) and not making the early call of ordinary players. 10 list changes at a minimum are required at year's end. I've said elsewhere that I could comfortably chop 15.

I'm far from convinced about our coaching (lack of tagging, lack of any sort of reactivity), but that's another discussion.

BTW, not convinced that McKenna was in our bottom 6 for the weekend's disgrace. He certainly didn't match his recent output, but he at least tried to run, present and create. Which is more than you can say for about 18 of his team-mates....


Yeah I could have picked from about 10 players, Oirish's fumbles really did my head in though.

We need a super active off season (15 is a little crazy though!). Probably 5-6 draft picks and 1-2 recycled players at a minimum.


I'm not convinced that the cultural aspects we as supporters see as pulling us down correlate to the way players feel and how they mentally get through games. We have years and years of highs and lows from an outsiders perspective. The club videos, stories, advertising etc is geared towards us, not the players.

This is why I scoffed at SMJ's hide the cups post in the other thread (a bit rudely too, apologies SMJ, that loss had me all sorts of aggro). But where long term supporters are mentally; how can we know how these same factors impact on, say, a Fantasia or a Merrett?

I like the concept of Mindfulness or similar, as raised by SCarey, helping the players focus positively (it's something I've been recently getting into to help my own life). It's really hard for us to say "oh, we have an arrogant culture of just expecting to win" when we don't know what is running through individual player's minds.

I think it's a lack of talent, but we can't dismiss it being somewhat mental also.

Fark, not even sure where I'm going with this. Perhaps the team right now is being held back by saga-drained older players and developing younger guys and our sweet spot is still a couple of years away, when the saga well and truly fades, the younger guys get wiser and grow in resolve and take ownership of the mentality of the playing group, and if we manage to entice some top talent to complement the list.


I really liked this post. Whats interesting about this topic is that Blitzers view football in different ways.

There are those who can view it more clinically and mathematically and with less emotion such as JBombers post. There's a lot of truth to that and so if what JBomber says is true then "Essington" is a matter of us fans getting out of sync with the reality of where our talent is at?

Other posters have views that you can coldly cut players careers, drop respected former leaders to the two's. Clinical and cold. But you look at the effect of Lewis/Mitchell at Hawthorn and all of a sudden that winning culture has been damaged (hopefully irreparably). I think the cutting of Harvey at North has also hurt that club. And these are only 1 or 2 respected players we are talking about. The talent at Hawthorn hasn't changed much year on year.

I personally think that in sport, that morale, belief, confidence, daring, resilience, leadership and culture are real factors that tip the balance.

Dangerfield is a good player but it astounds me that half the nobodies running round for Geelong post the retirement of Enright, Scarlett, Chapman, Stevie J etc are able to keep Geelong up.

Talent wise they are average and without the belief they have I could see them languishing around 12th on the ladder.


Well, no. Ultimately we lost (irrespective of the midfield) to sydney due to making a whole series of very poor decisions. From some very talented players. And Zorko? Couldnt counter or didnt bother tactically/coaching wise?

I dont disagree at all that we need more midfield talent. At all. But unless you're viewing mental strength and consistency of focus as "talent" ( which arguably, you could) then i dont think thats the underlying issue of this thread.

Yes, every side has its ups and downs and more 'talent' can minimise the drop off. But that outlook ignores the "Cupido effect" where talent simply isnt the problem. Applying it is the problem. Plus, there's a predictability and pattern that suggests that this is more than a standard cycle. We beat the top 4 sides and then predictably, inevitably we play actrociously against sides we should knock over or at least be at their level. There's a feeling at many games ive been to of absolute simmering frustration, the players seemingly waiting for the crowd to get involved and the crowd waiting for the players to do something worthy of getting pumped up for. Imo, the "talent" or "bottom six" factor is what stops you getting from top 5 to premiership. Its not what causes a win over premiership contenders and follows up with a predictable loss to bottom. Particularly when you can generally see it in the opening minutes.

Imo, There's unquestionably a mental factor in this regular event.


Not sure it's a good philosophy, GWS bottom 6 from last weekend.

Matt De Boer
Jeremy finlayson
Aidan Corr
Daniel Lloyd
Sam Reid
Nathan Wilson

Bottom 6 is usually pretty crap.