- May 5, 2009
- AFL Club
I wished I'd have kept tabs on who we brought in when we delisted players.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing but i still don't know why we selected two flanker types within 3 picks of each other (Langford/Laverde) instead of utilising a pick on a more pressing need. We have continually picked flankers.
Dodoro has often identified ok talent, but the development has failed at the football club. My gripe with Dodo has been topping us up but we have not progressed as a football club.
Here's one I prepared earlier:
I agree with almost everything Bunk Moreland has been saying. One of the points he has been making is that the job of the recruiter is to get the talent in the door. He can only be judged on the talent. Dodoro can't be responsible for ongoing mental frailty, botched development and/or bizarre team selection.
That's part of the problem I have with the discussion. Dodoro has been around a long time and never been associated with a list that has done anything, and maybe that is reason enough to part ways, but it always seems to me that he's being blamed for part of the outcome that is not his responsibility.
The reason you can look at Parish, for example, as a "miss" is because with all of the opportunity he has received he's largely the same player he was in year 1 and displays nothing that would be expected of a midfielder recruited that high in a draft (surely the minimum expectation looks something like Taranto or Oliver). It was a clear error and one of the few worth mentioining that Dodoro has made at the draft table in a long time. As much as people like to dismiss my opinion on Parish, no one actually argues that he is the player they want when they pick a mid in the top 5 (or that he is or will be better than Stanton or Zaharakis who were and/or remain whipping boys). That's not the same thing as saying that he won't have a career but that's not the discussion it's about the talent Dodoro brought to the club.
On the other hand, I've never understood why people insist on citing perennially injured players as recruiting failures. It's Laverde at the moment and it used to be Gumbleton. It's nonsensical that a recruiter could be blamed for that. There was plenty of excitement about Laverde at the end of 2015. It's also no achievement for Laverde to be an "unknown", by the way. It's essentially the best thing that can be said about his career to date. A lot of it seems to me to be petty slagging because posters can't accept Parish for what he is. Laverde could never play another senior game and it's not going to mean a thing for the quality of Parish's performances.
Francis is probably a more dicey selection than is initially obvious. He clearly had the raw ability to be selected as early as he was in the first round. However, I would also say that Dodoro's non-selection of Charlie Curnow, for example, is symbolic of an attitude he has had which does not place enough of an emphasis on the running capability of players (and physical prowess generally). You'd assume that Francis' immaturity would have been identified and I think you do have to query whether he was a smart selection where he also lacked endurance/running capability.
I don't think there is any doubt that we have not invested heavily enough in players that Worsfold recognizes as midfielders, but it raises an interesting question. Who should we have taken and what with? There is no point going back before the supplements saga, the rebuild to that point was solid enough and then got broken apart by the loss of 5 senior players who either were or have since proven to be quality players. Draft sanctions offset any raid we could have made on the draft during this period - and we were largely limited to taking the normal quota of picks over 4 years between 2013 and 2016 (despite the loss of players). There was also the problem that list management got frozen in time for a few years as we held on to chaff as we refused to play kids for 3 years.
So if we're looking at just the midfield, and starting with 2014 (as 2013 speaks for itself and being 2 selections that you could not revisit in good faith regardless of who followed).
Who were the better prospects as midfielders than Langford and Laverde? Is there a player that anyone looks at even now and thinks that he'd be making a huge difference in the middle? Jack Steele, Touk Miller, Neale-Bullen or Toby McLean? I call bulls**t on anyone who is recruiting any of those players. Steele was an academy selection anyway. In my opinion Conor Blakely is the only player with an equivalent level of raw talent. So far, it's one kid from outback WA (which tends to be a bit of a black hole for AFL recruiting other than for the WA sides who clearly hide players - and unlike SA for example where we have had a lot of success) who was not in any discussion as a top 20 pick.
For the two first round picks in 2015, it's really only Josh Dunkley who was not tied to an academy that was available to us and who can be part of the conversation if it's not pure revisionism (I'm not going to jump shark by suggesting that we select Mathieson or Fiorini at 5 instead of Parish or say that either is a better player). I suppose you could argue that Curnow could have been developed on-ball but I don't think he has played a game there to date. Gresham is starting to look like a mid but he was a small forward and has been a small forward to this point. In Redman we probably took the best available midfield sized talent so we've won anyway. Tom Phillips was taken at 58. Now, I'm definitely willing to concede that Dodoro has routinely failed to recruit players with the running power of Phillips but we don't get to do a revisionist draft in which a player taken at 58 all of the sudden becomes part of the discussion at 5. I do struggle to understand how, given the characteristic lack of running power of an Essendon midfield, he was not selected in the 20s but chances are we don't have Redman (as you can't just replace Morgan because he didn't work out). It's much the same story with Menegola.
Edit: I've left Sier out of this discussion. He has played 12 games all last year (and we regarded as having a real problem initially adapting to being an AFL player). He is probably someone we should have been looking at but, again, be careful what you wish for because he was taken at 32 which means that Redman has to be factored into this discussion.
It gets interesting in 2016. There is virtually no support for the idea that McGrath was the wrong type of player to select (though I think he is if we don't get a quality midfielder or two out of Ridley, Begley and/or Mutch). Willem Drew and Jack Graham are the only mids from 22 (Ridley) onwards you'd bother arguing about. Anyone want to substitute Ridley or Begley for either of those two on draft day in 2016? That's two of the most talented players we have and two big aggressive kids who should be developing in the middle for us. I really like Parfitt and Fisher as players but they're hardly the solution to the issues we have with our midfield.
So for 2017, who is giving up Stringer and Smith for some kids? In 2018 who is giving up Shiel?
If I had my way we'd have Saad and Shiel. It would be a hard argument to make that we would be in a better position right now if that is what occurred. I have always been prepared to accept the rationale of selecting McGrath where need was balanced out by the rest of the draft.
In 2014 to 2016, even with its questionable selections, Dodoro provided the list with a lot of raw ability in bigger/powerful players that could be used in the midfield (Laverde, Langford, Redman, Ridley and Begley). So far we've picked the least competitive player, the least suited to the role, and found a number of creative ways not to pick the others either at all or in the middle.
So I can say that I don't agree with the lack of focus Dodoro has placed on physical capability. The spine in particular is not mobile enough. The mids are not gifted runners. We haven't recruited enough highly talented inside midfielders. I might be able to squeeze Blakely and Tom Phillips onto the list but at the expense of Laverde/Langford and possibly Redman. I can't get from there to sacking Dodoro.
There is a versions of this that sees Dodoro take the fall as being responsible but no one ever really gets there as far as the analysis is concerned.
This leads me to the wonderfully rigid selection criteria which confines players to single roles despite that fact that the talent of the list is heavily skewed to the flanks and dual position players (which was clearly part of Dodoro's recruiting strategy).
Edit: everyone always criticises us for trying to turn flankers into to midfielders. We have tried it with 1 player so far. How about we try it with some of the others?
Of course, we've also got to ensure that when injury hits we start reinventing defenders as forwards, not playing forwards as forwards and using wingmen in defence instead of players who play their football in defence.
Even looking at some of last year's contracts says a lot:
- Baguley was basically the last player signed on what is 1 last 1 year deal, of course he play the first 7 games and all JLT.
- Laverde gets a 2 year deal and 2 quarters of JLT football, including a ride up to GWS as the traveling emergency (his non-selection had nothing to do with injury).
- Brown gets a 1 year deal so of course he's straight in.
- Stewart gets a 2 year deal and naturally he does not feature in our planning (as is evidenced by the fact that he was an emergency in JLT).
It has long been apparent that there is a significant disconnect between list management and coaching. List management has produced as much talent as we could reasonably expect and the coaches seem to do their best strategizing coming up with ways not to use the talent (focusing on bargain basement depth instead).
I am failing to see the connection between the recruiting and the performance of the team except for in the middle of the ground but I see no convincing way in which the middle of the ground could be improved by recruiting what was available without sacrificing an equal or greater amount.
The same Gary Buckenara who reckoned we should have kept James Polkinghorne on the senior list after the top up year? Not sure he's the answer. Not now anyway. Or they same Bucky who just got the arse from Frankston Dolphins.