Analysis 2019 List, Game Plan and Best 22?

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caesar88

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We will agree to disagree. Won’t hurt their development at all. Not complex. Won’t hurt our forward line if rotated through appropriately, especially now potentially with Menzal there (and the return of Reid).

FWIW 1st March 2018:
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/swan-papley-adds-afl-value-in-two-areas

He's (Papley) one of a number of players the Swans will look to rotate through midfield to assist their established on-ball champions, Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker.

"There will be different times where we might have a Dean Towers or a Will Hayward, someone from a forward perspective, come through and spend a bit of time there," Swans assistant coach Brett Kirk said.


The article is just fluff.
Forgive me for doubting the fluff-ness of the article given Horse's history of mismanaging players' roles. I think back to Gary Rohan and Lewis Jetta as two players who Horse simply over-complicated. Rohan was a full forward one month, a winger the next, a HBF rebounder another. Then there was Jetta, who for some reason was expected to add a contested, inside dimension to his game, even though he was built like a twig and only one year earlier had kicked 40+ goals in a flag-winning year. Both were enormous talents that had the potential to lock-down a role and become stars in those roles. Yes they had their own reasons for not fulfilling that potential, but I think the asking too much of them during their development years definitely would not have helped.

Sometimes he just needs to show more certainty and decisiveness with players, and actually put more trust in them to just master their role. Exhibit A being Florent. First year we only saw glimpses of what he could do as he was playing predominantly as a small forward. His second year rolls around and Horse takes an enormous leap of faith and plays Florent basically full-time on the wing. And whaddyaknow he shines, absolutely out of nowhere. It's the rare time where Horse saw a player and their qualities and kept it simple with what he expected of them. Other times I think he just isn't as sure what to do with those dynamic, attacking types like Hayward and Papley.

I think getting the best out of these types of players is not a strong suit of his as a senior coach. Which is OK because no coach is perfect, but I'd hate to see Hayward and Papley's development suffer because things weren't kept simple for them and their roles weren't clearly defined. You are confident that it won't hurt their development and that it's not complex, but I am not. I hope we're sitting here a year from now with you saying, "I told you so" and not the other way round!
 
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Forgive me for doubting the fluff-ness of the article given Horse's history of mismanaging players' roles. I think back to Gary Rohan and Lewis Jetta as two players who Horse simply over-complicated. Rohan was a full forward one month, a winger the next, a HBF rebounder another. Then there was Jetta, who for some reason was expected to add a contested, inside dimension to his game, even though he was built like a twig and only one year earlier had kicked 40+ goals in a flag-winning year. Both were enormous talents that had the potential to lock-down a role and become stars in those roles. Yes they had their own reasons for not fulfilling that potential, but I think the asking too much of them during their development years definitely would not have helped.

Sometimes he just needs to show more certainty and decisiveness with players, and actually put more trust in them to just master their role. Exhibit A being Florent. First year we only saw glimpses of what he could do as he was playing predominantly as a small forward. His second year rolls around and Horse takes an enormous leap of faith and plays Florent basically full-time on the wing. And whaddyaknow he shines, absolutely out of nowhere. It's the rare time where Horse saw a player and their qualities and kept it simple with what he expected of them. Other times I think he just isn't as sure what to do with those dynamic, attacking types like Hayward and Papley.

I think getting the best out of these types of players is not a strong suit of his as a senior coach. Which is OK because no coach is perfect, but I'd hate to see Hayward and Papley's development suffer because things weren't kept simple for them and their roles weren't clearly defined. You are confident that it won't hurt their development and that it's not complex, but I am not. I hope we're sitting here a year from now with you saying, "I told you so" and not the other way round!
Isn’t it more than learning their roles? Don’t they also need to know how each of the other forwards plays and how to work together to the point that their forward play becomes almost instinctive. It’s why our back six used to play so well.



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connolly

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Agree with Caesar. I have noted Horse plays bottom six and fringe players as utilities often out of position. Think Allir as a forward, Towers in multiple roles, Robbo the same, Cunningham is another classic.
Rohan at full forward. If Longmire had a square peg he would find a round hole
 

SBD Gonzalez

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Kidding, right?
On Christmas day it will be 88 days to go... :)

Coincidentally, on Christmas Day it will be 88 days since I've had a cigarette! :D :D :D

What's that got to do with 2019 List, Game Plan and Best 22? Absolutely nothing, but I just can't resist skiting!
Congratulations! Best decision you'll ever make.
 

caesar88

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Isn’t it more than learning their roles? Don’t they also need to know how each of the other forwards plays and how to work together to the point that their forward play becomes almost instinctive. It’s why our back six used to play so well.



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Correct. Further more reasons why pushing young forwards into dual roles doesn’t sit well with me. If they’re 25, already experienced, star forwards who are maybe down on form or lacking that spark, sure, try them elsewhere and give them a new challenge that may rejuvenate their form. But to me if you have a young player made for a role, just let them focus solely on doing that role the best they can while taking the guidance from their more experienced peers.
 

Wolftone

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Correct. Further more reasons why pushing young forwards into dual roles doesn’t sit well with me. If they’re 25, already experienced, star forwards who are maybe down on form or lacking that spark, sure, try them elsewhere and give them a new challenge that may rejuvenate their form. But to me if you have a young player made for a role, just let them focus solely on doing that role the best they can while taking the guidance from their more experienced peers.

I agree. I thought one thing that hurt our forward structure was when Longmire decided it would be a good idea for Hayward to start off the back of the square. We then basically just had Franklin one out and the HF were pushed up so far there were no crumbers to take the spoils when the opposition triple teamed Franklin. forward structure is important and maintaining those structures under pressure even more important. We maintain absolutely NO structure under pressure especially when the ball is in the back line. We have a kick blindly in hope mentality. sometimes that comes off but more than not it doesn't.

When we maintained some form of structure forward of the centre when the ball was in the back half we were good. In fact some of our slingshot footy was the best ever seen. But unfortunately the coach seems to panic and fall into the trap of putting all or 17 of the 18 players in the backline if they are threatening.
 

caesar88

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I agree. I thought one thing that hurt our forward structure was when Longmire decided it would be a good idea for Hayward to start off the back of the square. We then basically just had Franklin one out and the HF were pushed up so far there were no crumbers to take the spoils when the opposition triple teamed Franklin. forward structure is important and maintaining those structures under pressure even more important. We maintain absolutely NO structure under pressure especially when the ball is in the back line. We have a kick blindly in hope mentality. sometimes that comes off but more than not it doesn't.

When we maintained some form of structure forward of the centre when the ball was in the back half we were good. In fact some of our slingshot footy was the best ever seen. But unfortunately the coach seems to panic and fall into the trap of putting all or 17 of the 18 players in the backline if they are threatening.
Yeah even Horse's staunchest supporters would have to admit forward structure is something he's never been good at as a coach. And we can't even blame our midfield woes the last two seasons, because even in 2014-2016, it was just rather typical that we'd have a vacant forward line. And now he really doesn't have much of an excuse. We finally have enough weapons up forward to create a lethal and efficient forward six. We have Buddy, Reid, Menzel, McCartin, Hayward, Ronke and Papley who can all play forward. Could even throw in Blakey depending on where he plays and how much game-time he gets. We should have a forward 50 that nearly always has targets aplenty.

Who knows maybe 2019 will be different but history says otherwise. We may have another season of the ridiculous long bombs, Buddy-centric entries and a forward 50 that resembles a ghost town.
 

RUNVS

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Who knows maybe 2019 will be different but history says otherwise. We may have another season of the ridiculous long bombs, Buddy-centric entries and a forward 50 that resembles a ghost town.
and Kirk's comments imply it is going to be more of the same.
 

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bungee

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From what I've seen watching non-Swans games, Horse is doing what a lot of coaches are doing. He's increasing his options by encouraging players to be able, if called upon, to move between roles. There aren't a lot of teams that can afford to play with very structured positions. Versatility is key in the modern game, particularly when depth is thin. The last few years we've rebuilt much of our list yet remained competitive, even as our depth has been sorely tested. We are doing something right and I quite reasonably expect to see even better results over the coming years as our next premiership window opens wide.
 

Wolftone

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Well if he doesn't then we're ******. Literally.
Agree with this. Maybe not the literally part. We have the forward talent. We will also have the midfield talent this year with Heens and George now both strong mids. Add Mills, Jones, Blakey, Dawson, Rowbottom and Ling to the equation and we have plenty of depth there too. I'd like to see Ollie Florent playing in the mids as an old fashioned rover. This is the position he was playing in the TAC Cup comp that obviously impressed our recruiters. So let him play his natural game in the mids not on the wwing. We now have plenty of speed to play wing. Clearances are an important part of developing a new, exciting brand of footy. In that mix has to be the midfield being less predictable. As with franklin in the forward line, the mids are predictable when Kennedy is there. Maybe we need to change Joey's role in the mids and allow Heens, Rowbottom and Dawson to extract with Joey playing the feed off role.

We have plenty of options but the coaching has to be less predictable and more innovative. In 2016 Horse almost got it right. His game plan was good and we were hitting up leading targets. Some of our ball use and fast play was sensational and wonderful to watch. Other than the umpires, two things interfered with our premiership tilt that year, ability to finish matches and a slight lack of talent forward. We were developing players like Hewett, Heens, Paps etc but we had X Richards in the position which now will be filled by either Reid or McCartin. Both of which are far better players than X. Our fitness was obviously a problem because all season we failed to run out matches. We tended to kill them off in the first half, consolidate in the third while sliding a bit in the last. In the GF all the Bulldogs did was wear us down and when we did not get a huge lead by half time they knew they were in with a chance. Certainly we would have had a rather large lead had the umpiring been fair. But the reality is both umpires and Bulldogs knew that if we didn't get a big lead we could be run over in the last. We did not run matches out.

Next season we can't make any of those mistakes. We need a new strategic book. Our personnel are certainly better than 2016 and we run deep. The fitness level needs to be at the sharp end. We need to be as fit as ballet dancers (by standards of fitness adjudged the fittest people in the world). We also need to be able to look at an opposition and be able to pick a side that is best to match and dispatch them. this idea of picking best 22 is long gone. Today coaches need to be flexible enough to pick the best players for the game by measuring opposition strengths and weaknesses and not matching them but overwhelming them. Of course pressure plays a huge part.
 

caesar88

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From what I've seen watching non-Swans games, Horse is doing what a lot of coaches are doing. He's increasing his options by encouraging players to be able, if called upon, to move between roles. There aren't a lot of teams that can afford to play with very structured positions. Versatility is key in the modern game, particularly when depth is thin. The last few years we've rebuilt much of our list yet remained competitive, even as our depth has been sorely tested. We are doing something right and I quite reasonably expect to see even better results over the coming years as our next premiership window opens wide.
I agree that versatility is key in the modern game, but key to what I'm not sure. West Coast won the premiership this year with a pretty rigid structure. They had a few who floated in various positions - Yeo (HB/mid), Vardy (ruck/forward), Masten and Jetta (both all-rounders) but that was just about it. Yeo aside, think about their best players, and they were all dominant in their one role. Darling never had periods down back. Gaff and Shuey never had periods resting forward. Hurn and McGovern never played as key forwards. LeCras stayed almost exclusively inside 50. Duggan, Redden, Hutchings and Sheed stayed on the ball as crucial midfield depth. Jamie Cripps, Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli played exclusively as the small forwards they were brought into the team to be. They all did their roles well.

You could also look at the Hawthorn three-peat team as another example of rigid structures working well. With their forwards, Roughead went through the midfield one year, Buddy played up the ground in his final year. That's it. The rest of the time, Roughead, Gunston, Breust and Puopolo were always strictly forwards (only recently has Clarkson started being more flexible with a few of their roles to no devastating effect yet.) Their midfield collective of Mitchell, Hodge, Lewis, Shiels and Smith never had stints resting forward. The exceptions were Burgoyne and Rioli, who seemed to have free reign to impact the game anywhere they were required, which isn't uncommon with mercurial talents (we often did the same with Goodes.) The result was a back-line that was under-rated with their stingy-ness, a midfield that consistently performed in big occasions, and a forward line that was repeatedly the best in the league.

I think we can look at the way the game is played a million different ways but the most effective way that is tried and true is to be dominant in your positions. To have a defence that is stingy and impenetrable, to have a midfield that wins the hard balls consistently, and to have a forward line that can score heavily. To do these things I think you need to have six players in each position that can master their roles. Otherwise, to paraphrase RUNVS from a month ago, you end up with players who are the jack of all trades but the master of none.
 

caesar88

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Agree with this. Maybe not the literally part. We have the forward talent. We will also have the midfield talent this year with Heens and George now both strong mids. Add Mills, Jones, Blakey, Dawson, Rowbottom and Ling to the equation and we have plenty of depth there too. I'd like to see Ollie Florent playing in the mids as an old fashioned rover. This is the position he was playing in the TAC Cup comp that obviously impressed our recruiters. So let him play his natural game in the mids not on the wwing. We now have plenty of speed to play wing. Clearances are an important part of developing a new, exciting brand of footy. In that mix has to be the midfield being less predictable. As with franklin in the forward line, the mids are predictable when Kennedy is there. Maybe we need to change Joey's role in the mids and allow Heens, Rowbottom and Dawson to extract with Joey playing the feed off role.

We have plenty of options but the coaching has to be less predictable and more innovative. In 2016 Horse almost got it right. His game plan was good and we were hitting up leading targets. Some of our ball use and fast play was sensational and wonderful to watch. Other than the umpires, two things interfered with our premiership tilt that year, ability to finish matches and a slight lack of talent forward. We were developing players like Hewett, Heens, Paps etc but we had X Richards in the position which now will be filled by either Reid or McCartin. Both of which are far better players than X. Our fitness was obviously a problem because all season we failed to run out matches. We tended to kill them off in the first half, consolidate in the third while sliding a bit in the last. In the GF all the Bulldogs did was wear us down and when we did not get a huge lead by half time they knew they were in with a chance. Certainly we would have had a rather large lead had the umpiring been fair. But the reality is both umpires and Bulldogs knew that if we didn't get a big lead we could be run over in the last. We did not run matches out.

Next season we can't make any of those mistakes. We need a new strategic book. Our personnel are certainly better than 2016 and we run deep. The fitness level needs to be at the sharp end. We need to be as fit as ballet dancers (by standards of fitness adjudged the fittest people in the world). We also need to be able to look at an opposition and be able to pick a side that is best to match and dispatch them. this idea of picking best 22 is long gone. Today coaches need to be flexible enough to pick the best players for the game by measuring opposition strengths and weaknesses and not matching them but overwhelming them. Of course pressure plays a huge part.
Why would we play these proven midfield talents in the midfield when we could play proven forwards like Hayward and Papley as midfielders instead?
 

bungee

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.... Our personnel are certainly better than 2016 and we run deep. ...
I disagree Wolfie. We've lost an enormous amount of experience since 2016 and some of our older players have a reduced output. We're coming towards the end of a period of transition where we've turned over much of our list in the last 2 years as the generation that took us to three GFs makes way for the next.

After a 2016 when we didn't do much wrong at all and were unlucky to lose the GF the myth developed that we only needed to change our playing style to win the 2017 and 2018 GFs. Somehow the complete rejuvenation of our list, sufficient to send most teams well out of the eight, has been whitewashed out of the discussion. It's like losing two wheels of a race car and blaming the driver.

As for depth, our run of key personnel injuries over the last couple of years showed how little depth we had. Our only fully fit tall forward was also the youngest guy in the comp. He played a full season when he should by rights have managed one or two games at best. The supporting cast of forwards weren't much older. We played Parker forward for much of the year despite our lack of midfield depth as we simply needed the experience in the forward line. Buddy was struggling to simply get up for a game and the pressure on him told in the end.

With Parker forward we ran guys like Papley and Hayward through the middle to help Kennedy and co. who were already disadvantaged by our number one ruck being held by an under-sized Sinclair, borrowed from his position as a tall forward to prop up the hole Sinclair left. We spent the last two years and 2018 in particular robbing Peter to pay Paul, such were the holes in our depth. Defence didn't fair much better. Rampe, Smith, Melican. Mills and Grundy all were unavailable for periods during the past couple of years so we played inexperienced guys like O'Riordan or pushed Heeney back to cover hole in our defence.

Does that mean we now have lots of depth ? No, not yet, it means we now have better depth than we could have reasonably expected two years into a rebuild. Guys like McCartin, Stoddart, O'Riordan, Dawson are still young and raw. Thurlow and Clarke new to our system. Our depth players need more games and more experience before they are genuinely able to contribute, though McCartin may be a happy exception if his development continues apace.

I do agree with you that we have a good group of talented players. I think our recruiter have done a marvellous job this year. They haven't panicked and thrown away big bucks trying to fill holes in our list but have stuck with their guns to carefully built a list that should see us very well placed in terms of experience, talent and youth in the every near future.

Is that future now ? In all honesty I think a 2019 GF appearance is a long shot given there are other teams better poised list wise than we are at present but certainly a top four finish is possible and will give our young players even more finals experience. Don't forget that despite everything that was thrown at us in 2018 we finished just one win away from a top four finish and had the best record of any team against the other top 8 teams. Had Buddy been able to play in the last round of the H&A he may have been the difference. Sadly though, Buddy was cooked and was unable to have any further impact for 2018.

The final pieces of the Swans generational transformation will come when the last of 2012 retire, perhaps with a couple of exceptions. Come 2020 onwards I see us entering a real purple patch. Our list will be approaching a peak age/experience profile and our depth should be solid. Then we can judge whether our team is performing to its full potential.
 

caesar88

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I disagree Wolfie. We've lost an enormous amount of experience since 2016 and some of our older players have a reduced output. We're coming towards the end of a period of transition where we've turned over much of our list in the last 2 years as the generation that took us to three GFs makes way for the next.

After a 2016 when we didn't do much wrong at all and were unlucky to lose the GF the myth developed that we only needed to change our playing style to win the 2017 and 2018 GFs. Somehow the complete rejuvenation of our list, sufficient to send most teams well out of the eight, has been whitewashed out of the discussion. It's like losing two wheels of a race car and blaming the driver.

As for depth, our run of key personnel injuries over the last couple of years showed how little depth we had. Our only fully fit tall forward was also the youngest guy in the comp. He played a full season when he should by rights have managed one or two games at best. The supporting cast of forwards weren't much older. We played Parker forward for much of the year despite our lack of midfield depth as we simply needed the experience in the forward line. Buddy was struggling to simply get up for a game and the pressure on him told in the end.

With Parker forward we ran guys like Papley and Hayward through the middle to help Kennedy and co. who were already disadvantaged by our number one ruck being held by an under-sized Sinclair, borrowed from his position as a tall forward to prop up the hole Sinclair left. We spent the last two years and 2018 in particular robbing Peter to pay Paul, such were the holes in our depth. Defence didn't fair much better. Rampe, Smith, Melican. Mills and Grundy all were unavailable for periods during the past couple of years so we played inexperienced guys like O'Riordan or pushed Heeney back to cover hole in our defence.

Does that mean we now have lots of depth ? No, not yet, it means we now have better depth than we could have reasonably expected two years into a rebuild. Guys like McCartin, Stoddart, O'Riordan, Dawson are still young and raw. Thurlow and Clarke new to our system. Our depth players need more games and more experience before they are genuinely able to contribute, though McCartin may be a happy exception if his development continues apace.

I do agree with you that we have a good group of talented players. I think our recruiter have done a marvellous job this year. They haven't panicked and thrown away big bucks trying to fill holes in our list but have stuck with their guns to carefully built a list that should see us very well placed in terms of experience, talent and youth in the every near future.

Is that future now ? In all honesty I think a 2019 GF appearance is a long shot given there are other teams better poised list wise than we are at present but certainly a top four finish is possible and will give our young players even more finals experience. Don't forget that despite everything that was thrown at us in 2018 we finished just one win away from a top four finish and had the best record of any team against the other top 8 teams. Had Buddy been able to play in the last round of the H&A he may have been the difference. Sadly though, Buddy was cooked and was unable to have any further impact for 2018.

The final pieces of the Swans generational transformation will come when the last of 2012 retire, perhaps with a couple of exceptions. Come 2020 onwards I see us entering a real purple patch. Our list will be approaching a peak age/experience profile and our depth should be solid. Then we can judge whether our team is performing to its full potential.
Some good points here bungee. It’s worth noting though that some who criticise our game style now were also criticising it throughout 2016 when we looked far and wide to be the best team in the comp. Those critics correctly saw that while we were winning, and no team was performing better than us, that we struggled with pace and decisive ball movement, and that when these things were used against us we came undone. They correctly predicted it would be our undoing, as we lost twice in that year to GWS and the Bulldogs, the two teams who used pace and attacking ball movement as weapons. The issue’s got worse as we’ve become more stagnant and the rest of the competition has become more attacking.

But you make a good point that flaws or not, the way we play does stand up. It wins us games we would otherwise have no right winning. It forces other top eight sides to persist with their game plan or be out-lasted and out-fought by us. But the problem is there will always be at least one team who will persist with their game plan, and there will always be at least one team who will have a game plan that’s better, more attacking and more direct than ours. So at some point racking up enough unconvincing wins just won’t cut it. We’ve reached that point now two years in a row. The club collectively, led by Horse, need to make up their mind whether we stay in the past and cause ourselves to be stuck in this limbo state of good-but-not-good-enough, or if we’re going to move into the future where we could possibly be the best.

I think the club has looked into the future. They’ve had their eye on the future for a few years now, since we began investing more in youth. But they’ve not yet moved into the future. That much is evident in the way we aren’t quite willing to let go of some veterans who truthfully could’ve retired, and the way we’re not playing to the strengths of the predominently young players at our disposal. Things are going to have to change and Horse is going to have to embrace this change and the rewards it can bring, not shy away from it in fear of letting the glory days of 12-16 go.
 

bungee

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Some good points here bungee. It’s worth noting though that some who criticise our game style now were also criticising it throughout 2016 when we looked far and wide to be the best team in the comp. Those critics correctly saw that while we were winning, and no team was performing better than us, that we struggled with pace and decisive ball movement, and that when these things were used against us we came undone. They correctly predicted it would be our undoing, as we lost twice in that year to GWS and the Bulldogs, the two teams who used pace and attacking ball movement as weapons. The issue’s got worse as we’ve become more stagnant and the rest of the competition has become more attacking.

But you make a good point that flaws or not, the way we play does stand up. It wins us games we would otherwise have no right winning. It forces other top eight sides to persist with their game plan or be out-lasted and out-fought by us. But the problem is there will always be at least one team who will persist with their game plan, and there will always be at least one team who will have a game plan that’s better, more attacking and more direct than ours. So at some point racking up enough unconvincing wins just won’t cut it. We’ve reached that point now two years in a row. The club collectively, led by Horse, need to make up their mind whether we stay in the past and cause ourselves to be stuck in this limbo state of good-but-not-good-enough, or if we’re going to move into the future where we could possibly be the best.

I think the club has looked into the future. They’ve had their eye on the future for a few years now, since we began investing more in youth. But they’ve not yet moved into the future. That much is evident in the way we aren’t quite willing to let go of some veterans who truthfully could’ve retired, and the way we’ re not playing to the strengths of the predominently young players at our disposal. Things are going to have to change and Horse is going to have to embrace this change and the rewards it can bring, not shy away from it in fear of letting the glory days of 12-16 go.
Wow. You comment that I've made some good points then completely ignore them and perpetuate the self same myths. Let me address the myths in bullet form

* The Swans dominated in 2016 but some critical injuries were carried into the GF. The final blow came when Hanners had his legs taken out, costing us his valuable gut running when we needed it most. The umpires then awarded the free against him for, "putting his legs in the way of a dangerous slide", a new rule the AFL introduced that afternoon, along with the "a throw is OK if it's quick enough" and the "drop the ball if tackled" rule. Even then our game style held up just fine while we had the personnel on the park. Don't underestimate how determined the AFL were to have a Dogs or Giants fairy-tale that year.

* 2017 and 2018 were rebuilding years after 3 GFs and a premiership. These were made worse by a horror run of injuries to key personnel. The game plan "Find a way to win or limit the damage" was detested by many but wholly appropriate. It stopped us becoming St Kilda. Despite everything we still made the finals both years. From Round 7 of 2017 we got some players back on the park and won an astonishing run of games. It was not our game style that ended our incredible run. We were simply out asking too much of too few.

* We can agree that there has been deliberate recruiting for a new generation of player, which obviously suggests a change in the way we play. The Swans ability to remain competitive and play finals for 13 of the last 14 years suggests we are able to adapt better than almost any other club. Clearly when you are already one of the best you make incremental rather than wholesale change.

*Are you suggesting we should have no system or no team strategy for some of our players. That some players should just follow the voices of their inner Kirk (James T. not Brett) ? And do you seriously think the Swans want to run every player through a cookie cutter ? If so, the logic escapes me. Why would the Swans recruit for very specific types of player if they didn't intend to utilise their strengths ? Perhaps the answer is that they also see their weaknesses ? I know Aliir is your pet gripe but seriously, he was pretty much a one trick pony when he first played seniors. He always went for the mark, always played on, always played off his man. Other teams exploited him (look at North with Majak Daw) or other our defenders were forced to sacrifice their own came to cover for him. Look at him now and tell me he's not a better player. He's learning when to play loose or tight. He's learning to play a team defence. He's learning when to mark or punch, when to come off his man and when to checck him closely and, most importantly, he learning when it's fine to throw up your tail and go for a gallop up the field. Given his natural style of play I'm not surprised he was tried as forward or even as a ruck. Sometimes a player just can't be made to fit a role and then you discover he fits another perfectly. Imagine if Grundy has been kept as a forward, or Leo Barry for that matter. Jones has learned to use his strengths and watch his weaknesses. It's made him a more complete player. Aliir will also benefit.

*Finally, there will always be a bogey team. No team beats everyone every time. No mattter how good the Hawks were in their prime they always lost to Geelong. In 2017, the only team to interrupt our amazing run of wins was the Hawks, twice. Did it matter ? They didn't even make the finals. Sometimes a bogey team gets knocked out by someone else. In 1995 Carlton was so dominant they lost only two games all year, finished 1st (4 games clear) and easily won the premiership. The two teams that they couldn't beat (and completely thrashed them) in 1995 were the Swans (who finished 12th) and the Saints (who finished 14th). Again, not a big problem as they're weren't playing finals. Conclusion : You need a game plan that consistently beats most teams, no matter how ugly. Period.
 

caesar88

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Wow. You comment that I've made some good points then completely ignore them and perpetuate the self same myths. Let me address the myths in bullet form

* The Swans dominated in 2016 but some critical injuries were carried into the GF. The final blow came when Hanners had his legs taken out, costing us his valuable gut running when we needed it most. The umpires then awarded the free against him for, "putting his legs in the way of a dangerous slide", a new rule the AFL introduced that afternoon, along with the "a throw is OK if it's quick enough" and the "drop the ball if tackled" rule. Even then our game style held up just fine while we had the personnel on the park. Don't underestimate how determined the AFL were to have a Dogs or Giants fairy-tale that year.

* 2017 and 2018 were rebuilding years after 3 GFs and a premiership. These were made worse by a horror run of injuries to key personnel. The game plan "Find a way to win or limit the damage" was detested by many but wholly appropriate. It stopped us becoming St Kilda. Despite everything we still made the finals both years. From Round 7 of 2017 we got some players back on the park and won an astonishing run of games. It was not our game style that ended our incredible run. We were simply out asking too much of too few.

* We can agree that there has been deliberate recruiting for a new generation of player, which obviously suggests a change in the way we play. The Swans ability to remain competitive and play finals for 13 of the last 14 years suggests we are able to adapt better than almost any other club. Clearly when you are already one of the best you make incremental rather than wholesale change.

*Are you suggesting we should have no system or no team strategy for some of our players. That some players should just follow the voices of their inner Kirk (James T. not Brett) ? And do you seriously think the Swans want to run every player through a cookie cutter ? If so, the logic escapes me. Why would the Swans recruit for very specific types of player if they didn't intend to utilise their strengths ? Perhaps the answer is that they also see their weaknesses ? I know Aliir is your pet gripe but seriously, he was pretty much a one trick pony when he first played seniors. He always went for the mark, always played on, always played off his man. Other teams exploited him (look at North with Majak Daw) or other our defenders were forced to sacrifice their own came to cover for him. Look at him now and tell me he's not a better player. He's learning when to play loose or tight. He's learning to play a team defence. He's learning when to mark or punch, when to come off his man and when to checck him closely and, most importantly, he learning when it's fine to throw up your tail and go for a gallop up the field. Given his natural style of play I'm not surprised he was tried as forward or even as a ruck. Sometimes a player just can't be made to fit a role and then you discover he fits another perfectly. Imagine if Grundy has been kept as a forward, or Leo Barry for that matter. Jones has learned to use his strengths and watch his weaknesses. It's made him a more complete player. Aliir will also benefit.

*Finally, there will always be a bogey team. No team beats everyone every time. No mattter how good the Hawks were in their prime they always lost to Geelong. In 2017, the only team to interrupt our amazing run of wins was the Hawks, twice. Did it matter ? They didn't even make the finals. Sometimes a bogey team gets knocked out by someone else. In 1995 Carlton was so dominant they lost only two games all year, finished 1st (4 games clear) and easily won the premiership. The two teams that they couldn't beat (and completely thrashed them) in 1995 were the Swans (who finished 12th) and the Saints (who finished 14th). Again, not a big problem as they're weren't playing finals. Conclusion : You need a game plan that consistently beats most teams, no matter how ugly. Period.
I didn’t think I ignored your views so much as I offered a counter to a few of them.

Your first point about the 2016 season I don’t disagree with, as I don’t need any convincing that the outcome was incredibly compromised by the AFL. But even with a lot against us, we shouldn’t have been troubled by the Bulldogs. We had considerably more talent out there than the Dogs, but they out-ran and out-worked us over each quarter. Yes, we were up against 25 that day while we were basically playing with 18 (Buddy, Hanners + McVeigh and Mills who shouldn’t have been playing). But I can’t just blame our performance on those factors, because it has consistently happened to us against teams that run hard and use direct ball movement to break lines. At best we can shut those teams down enough to narrowly scrape over the line (a la Essendon and Adelaide wins in 2017), but more often than not we will lose to these types of opponents. This dates back to pre-2016 GF and still applies today, which is why the factors involved with that one particular game aren’t really relevant when you look at the bigger picture.

Your second point about 2017 and 2018 being rebuilding years I personally think is being too generous. Personnel-wise yes, we absolutely kicked our already-active rebuild into overdrive. Seeing kids like Florent, Hayward, Ronke, McCartin, Melican etc come through has been a pleasure and instilled further belief in our future. But footy-wise I think we almost ground the rebuild to a total halt, if not went backwards. I genuinely believe that H&C were still in the frame of mind that we could do what we did in 2013, or 2016, and it would still work. I think we continued to persist with a stoppage-based game, like in the glory days of 12-16, even though all signs pointed to that being a weakness of ours with the current list.

Which brings me to your third and fourth points. I think Horse did what he could do given the injuries and personnel, to limit the damage as you say. That was to rely on the style of footy that he was familiar with and knew was effective enough to win games. Like I’ve said, it does hold up to a certain extent, which is how we still managed 14 wins. But just because you don’t have the ideal 22 you’d want at your disposal, why does that mean you have to stop trying to get the very best out of your team? I would have much preferred Horse go, ok this is a bit of a makeshift 22 here, but let’s get creative. Instead it was like we basically conceded that we were too injury-plagued, too-youthful, too inexperienced to be a threat, and so we just stuck to the tried and true template.

I don’t think it did many players much good. You bring up Aliir and I’m glad you did, because he’s exhibit A in my issue with the way we play. Do I think he’s better now than he was in 2016? No. I think he’s no better and no worse. You say in 2016 he was a one-trick-pony because he always played loose and always took the game on. IMO that made him unpredictable and a double threat to oppositions, and we reaped the benefits of his attacking play-making off the half back. This year, that run and play-making was almost completely MIA from Aliir. He’s got better at intercept marking and one on one defending, but it’s so far been at the expense of the facet of his game that was arguably his best (and worst) quality. Our game plan, which is allergic to moving the ball on quickly, breaking a line and using the corridor, has made Aliir into more of a one-trick pony now than he ever was. It’s basically mark the ball, grind to a halt, and take the 20m sideways kick. He is far from the only one whose qualities happen to not be suited to a stoppage-based style of footy who is being restricted. Our best ball-user and runner Lloyd is being deployed on the last line of defence, our young goal sneaks like Hayward, Papley and Ronke are being sucked up the ground (this is not because they are young, this is because that’s the way Swans forward lines have functioned since 2012 regardless of personnel.) Zak Jones is doing all the hard yards to win hard balls and work it into attacking, dangerous positions, looks up and sees a vacant field ahead as our stoppage-based game demands all 18 Swans be lured out of their positions to surround a single contest. Our game style doesn’t just effect players’ individual form but it also effects our structures and makes it difficult for us to play a cohesive four quarters.

That’s why your last point is interesting. It is fine to have bogey teams, but ours are always the same types, year in, year out. Teams that are efficient by foot with their spread and run hard to break lines and create chains with speed. This is interesting because over the past half a dozen years, these kinds of teams have consistently troubled Horse. And the irony is that looking at our list and the players we have intentionally and methodically sought after, our best chance at becoming the best team we can be is by becoming just like those teams. Using our running capacity and pace to cut through other teams’ structures. That is Horse’s challenge going forward, but if he hasn’t had much success with repelling other teams attacking game, you can see why I have doubts he can create an attacking game of his own.
 

bungee

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First point. We outplayed just about everyone in 2016 but factors like injuries and umpiring went against us in the end. Getting to a GF is the hardest bit. The teams you mentioned didn't even get there. As for struggling against Essendon in 2017 ?? We squeaked home once and we wiped them off the planet in the second encounter. Besides, you get to the big dance by beating most other teams, not every other team. And you only have to beat them by a single point to get the four. Somehow that offends you ? Any kind of win is a win.

2nd & 3rd- Stop attributing thought to Horse that you think he has. These guys are way ahead of the curve. Playing finals for 20 of the last 23 years is not a fluke. Don't try suggesting that the game's only changed in the last few years. It's always been evolving. We've managed again to rebuild on the fly. That takes skill. You play the game that has the best chance of getting a win from the cattle you have on the park. The Swans did that. Their game style changed throughout the year as available personnel changed. Players were moveed around to cover each other. They did every trick in the book to stay competitive and they succeeded.

4th - Your devotion to Aliir is touching but also rather blind. He had a lot of talented tricks but he also had some shocker games where the opposition worked out how to play him. He's become a better team player and a better indivdual player and will continue to get better if he adds more strings to his bow. Get rid of this idea that he was somehow born the second coming. As for players being utilised out of position. That's what you do when you don't have the depth to cover injured players. You hobble together the best combination. You ask players to step outside their natural game because the team needs them to do it. You balance that compromise as best you can. Sometimes that throws up surprises.

5th. Richmond was the closest we had to a bogey team in 2018 but I'm confident we can beat them with a full compliment of players. They, like the wonderful Dogs, have yet to play more than one GF in recent memory. We beat every other team in the eight this year and remain the bogey team of West Coast and Melbourne despite Melbourne being the most attacking team in the comp in 2018. I don't think your perceptions match reality.

Perpetuate facts by all means but don't let your personal bias towards players or coaches flavour your thoughts.
 

Wolftone

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I agree that versatility is key in the modern game, but key to what I'm not sure. West Coast won the premiership this year with a pretty rigid structure. They had a few who floated in various positions - Yeo (HB/mid), Vardy (ruck/forward), Masten and Jetta (both all-rounders) but that was just about it. Yeo aside, think about their best players, and they were all dominant in their one role. Darling never had periods down back. Gaff and Shuey never had periods resting forward. Hurn and McGovern never played as key forwards. LeCras stayed almost exclusively inside 50. Duggan, Redden, Hutchings and Sheed stayed on the ball as crucial midfield depth. Jamie Cripps, Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli played exclusively as the small forwards they were brought into the team to be. They all did their roles well.

You could also look at the Hawthorn three-peat team as another example of rigid structures working well. With their forwards, Roughead went through the midfield one year, Buddy played up the ground in his final year. That's it. The rest of the time, Roughead, Gunston, Breust and Puopolo were always strictly forwards (only recently has Clarkson started being more flexible with a few of their roles to no devastating effect yet.) Their midfield collective of Mitchell, Hodge, Lewis, Shiels and Smith never had stints resting forward. The exceptions were Burgoyne and Rioli, who seemed to have free reign to impact the game anywhere they were required, which isn't uncommon with mercurial talents (we often did the same with Goodes.) The result was a back-line that was under-rated with their stingy-ness, a midfield that consistently performed in big occasions, and a forward line that was repeatedly the best in the league.

I think we can look at the way the game is played a million different ways but the most effective way that is tried and true is to be dominant in your positions. To have a defence that is stingy and impenetrable, to have a midfield that wins the hard balls consistently, and to have a forward line that can score heavily. To do these things I think you need to have six players in each position that can master their roles. Otherwise, to paraphrase RUNVS from a month ago, you end up with players who are the jack of all trades but the master of none.
I agree totally. I think the modern game is about endurance. Flexibility is not necessarily the mainstay it is just a tool some coaches think will give them advantage. It works sometimes and sometimes not. Before Paps went into the mids he kicked 29 in his first year, 30 in his second and could have kicked far more if it weren't for stints in the mids. In 2018 he kicked 24.

I'd hate to see the back-line treated the same way as the forward-line. We would end up being anhiliated. Think of this thinking 'We need flexibility in the backs, let me see, Reid to FB, Reg to FF, Smithy to FP, Hayward to BP' now that looks good says Horse.

Of course we would not do that so why do it to a potentially incredibly dangerous forward-line?

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Wolftone

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I disagree Wolfie. We've lost an enormous amount of experience since 2016 and some of our older players have a reduced output. We're coming towards the end of a period of transition where we've turned over much of our list in the last 2 years as the generation that took us to three GFs makes way for the next.

After a 2016 when we didn't do much wrong at all and were unlucky to lose the GF the myth developed that we only needed to change our playing style to win the 2017 and 2018 GFs. Somehow the complete rejuvenation of our list, sufficient to send most teams well out of the eight, has been whitewashed out of the discussion. It's like losing two wheels of a race car and blaming the driver.

As for depth, our run of key personnel injuries over the last couple of years showed how little depth we had. Our only fully fit tall forward was also the youngest guy in the comp. He played a full season when he should by rights have managed one or two games at best. The supporting cast of forwards weren't much older. We played Parker forward for much of the year despite our lack of midfield depth as we simply needed the experience in the forward line. Buddy was struggling to simply get up for a game and the pressure on him told in the end.

With Parker forward we ran guys like Papley and Hayward through the middle to help Kennedy and co. who were already disadvantaged by our number one ruck being held by an under-sized Sinclair, borrowed from his position as a tall forward to prop up the hole Sinclair left. We spent the last two years and 2018 in particular robbing Peter to pay Paul, such were the holes in our depth. Defence didn't fair much better. Rampe, Smith, Melican. Mills and Grundy all were unavailable for periods during the past couple of years so we played inexperienced guys like O'Riordan or pushed Heeney back to cover hole in our defence.

Does that mean we now have lots of depth ? No, not yet, it means we now have better depth than we could have reasonably expected two years into a rebuild. Guys like McCartin, Stoddart, O'Riordan, Dawson are still young and raw. Thurlow and Clarke new to our system. Our depth players need more games and more experience before they are genuinely able to contribute, though McCartin may be a happy exception if his development continues apace.

I do agree with you that we have a good group of talented players. I think our recruiter have done a marvellous job this year. They haven't panicked and thrown away big bucks trying to fill holes in our list but have stuck with their guns to carefully built a list that should see us very well placed in terms of experience, talent and youth in the every near future.

Is that future now ? In all honesty I think a 2019 GF appearance is a long shot given there are other teams better poised list wise than we are at present but certainly a top four finish is possible and will give our young players even more finals experience. Don't forget that despite everything that was thrown at us in 2018 we finished just one win away from a top four finish and had the best record of any team against the other top 8 teams. Had Buddy been able to play in the last round of the H&A he may have been the difference. Sadly though, Buddy was cooked and was unable to have any further impact for 2018.

The final pieces of the Swans generational transformation will come when the last of 2012 retire, perhaps with a couple of exceptions. Come 2020 onwards I see us entering a real purple patch. Our list will be approaching a peak age/experience profile and our depth should be solid. Then we can judge whether our team is performing to its full potential.
I agree with you about 2019. I don't see us in a GF either. I still think our list has far more talent than 2016. Several of those senior players you talked about were well and truly cooked in 2016. We had Richards as our back up for Reid, a third tall at best and a lazy footballer. I have just been watching 2016 games and his work rate was woeful.

Talent wise I think this list is streets ahead of 2016. We have offloaded the fringe players and drafted far better talent. The trades are all top 20 draft picks so had obvious talent to start with and just need to develop that talent. I'm not saying it is ready, what I am saying is that talent wise it bat's far deeper the 2016.

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