According to the punditry, everyone will do better in 2013.
This rather extraordinary exercise in groupthink has occurred holistically but, basically, everyone seems to be suggesting this year is the most difficult to pick the eight finalists, how everyone is improved in 2012, all the while essentially picking the same final eight, the next four, and the last six.
For some reason, whether it be a disengagement from the football mainstream, and newly found streak of rebellion, or just a desire to be different from everyone else, I can only think of reasons why every team will struggle this year. So permit me this counterpoint, this minority report, on what will happen in 2013 – the reasons any and every team will not perform as well as in 2012.
Main reason: everyone is talking up Tex Walker this off-season, but I can see a slide from him purely because of the absence of Kurt Tippett. Suddenly Walker will be getting the best defender instead of the second-best, and he’ll have to deal with that effectively for Adelaide to traverse their way through a much tougher fixture in 2013 than the one they enjoyed in 2012.
When I think of Walker this year, I always seem to think of Lance Whitnall after Aaron Hamill left Carlton – he was never anywhere near as productive.
Main reason: They exceeded expectation last year, and this year no one will take them nearly as lightly. Jonathan Brown is another year older, and the Lions haven’t yet shed their reliance on him to kick a winning score.
(You can tell my heart really isn’t in this one – I like Brisbane to impress this year.)
Mick Malthouse doesn’t play. They haven’t addressed any area of on-field need, such as tall defender or reliable tall forward. They’ve won one final since 2001.
They’ve been up for a while. Dane Swan could be a massive destruction, and he, Darren Jolly and Nick Maxwell are getting on in footballing years. And Jolly’s replacement is the positively youthful Ben Hudson.
See 2012-13 pre-season. That and even with the recruitment of Brendon Goddard, they still lack real midfield depth, quality, proven small forwards, and reliable small defenders.
Pavlich a year older. The propensity of Ross Lyon-coached teams to fall back into timid football that produces low scoring. And they’re Freo – they’ve never won anything.
Father time must catch up with these guys, right? And possibly, their best ruck option is a steeplechaser. Can’t play Hawthorn every week.
Perhaps those youngsters won’t be as good as anyone thinks? Still lack reliable key position players at either end.
Greater Western Sydney
See Gold Coast Year Two.
These guys are done – I’m putting my neck out. They’re not young, and were in a winning position late in a Grand Final (the year after being in a winning position late in a Preliminary Final) and lost it. And with Clinton Young gone and Matt Suckling done for the season, they lack outside class.
I know that the natural way of things is for a team that has been down so long and has rebuilt so fundamentally to eventually start to climb the ladder, but seriously, where is the improvement going to come from? They certainly added some mature depth, but Byrnes, Dawes and Rodan are not about to set the footy world on fire. Those are three spots that could have gone to youngsters. Nothing excites me about these guys, nothing, and after everything, they’re still Melbourne.
Like the Crows, their 2012 fixture was a hell of a lot easier than their 2013 one promises to be. They now have a target on their backs, and one of their spots on the list was reserved for a old man who can’t play until Round 7.
A basketcase with no fans, no money and no hope. President lives in another state. A horde of mature players walked out on the club last year, to be replaced by Angus Monfries. Read that last sentence again.
They are Richmond. Good teams always progress and make finals ahead of schedule. For examples of this, see St Kilda & Geelong in 2004, Hawthorn in 2007, and West Coast in 2011. I’m expecting a quintessentially “Richmond” performance from the Tigers this year.
Surely the club which has won more wooden spoons that any other will finally revert to type in 2013? Goddard’s gone, their quality players are ancient, and their youth is uninspiring or playing for West Coast. And in the off-season, Lenny Hayes had one of his hearts removed.
They won the premiership in 2012, and history advises that they probably won’t do it again in 2013. By definition, a slide.
With their only appointed leader out for a month, not only are the Western Bulldogs looking a good candidate for last spot this year, we have no idea who will even be their captain this weekend. They look like St Kilda without the class.
In the modern footy world, an uninterrupted pre-season almost takes precedence over any other one factor as the biggest determinant of success in any given year. With so many players hurt through the first few months of 2013, perhaps most pundits faith in the Eagles is just a little bit premature? Also Cox, Glass and Embley all must be nearing their final decline.
For posterity, and to ensure their is some sort of written record of how much of a bad judge I am, here is my ladder for 2013:
Greater Western Sydney