Coach Alastair Clarkson - NMFC Senior Coach - Coaching & Football Discussion

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All football staff employed from 2010-2020 created the hot tub of muck Clarkson and Co now find themselves tasked with fixing.
I have been thinking about this.

But more in the context of on-field leadership.

2009 -2011 Boomer (Petrie for a stretch when boomer was injured)
2012 - 2016 Spitta
2017 - 2022 Jack
2023 - Jy and Luke

If we include Dish, there are 5 All Australian years in there, which sounds ok, but Boomer has 4 of them.

Now your best player doesn't have to be your captain. However it helps. Because it shifts the conversation from do as I say not as I do to do as I say and as I do. Or rather when I lift you lift with me.

External recognition is not the be all and end all because things like AA or rising star are a popularity contest. For a North Melbourne player to make it they have to be pretty undeniable.

Boomer was ok but flawed in that he was as the team is right now, attack attack attack. The balance was off but the good far outweighed the bad.

Dish was ok but he could and would melt when we needed clutch moments. Don't get me wrong, he hit some absolute beauties. But I would have been far less confident of a Frank the tank moment if those kicks were set shots. He, like many in the Scott teams lacked composure in some big moments, or composure in leadership in really big moments.

Spitta was a watch me and follow. I have little doubt that he would be able to have hard conversations in meetings off field. But he simply was not the kind to bake blokes of field and demand. punched above his weight.

Jack, and this is where we start to slide. Jack played games, too many games, as Captain where if he did not have the C he would have been dropped. I loved Jack he was a warrior for our football club, but 2 broken legs, needing to change his style of game because of his physicality over time these took a toll. His form would be all over the place and yet he'd be played through it because he had leadership.

Jy 2 Syds in years where we were appalling. Jy wanted the captaincy and had worked towards it for years. He'd righted himself from his early get on the piss and run into a motorbike. His form has been all over the shop from ok to a hot mess. Where he could smash an opponent physically, or dance around them but then fail to execute the most basic of kicks.

Luke A syd in an appalling year. Early doors (when he first started) people were calling for him to be captain because his leadership as a kid shone through. But repeated injuries (broken leg, hamstrings etc) have robbed him of being anything more than a part time contributor. This is a huge problem. Or captain can't maintain a consistent even ok level of output. Historically I don't really kick Luke, but he's not influential. At least with Jy there is the potential that he may have a 1 in 20 really decent game. Luke isn't anywhere near that.

Supporting Casts

Goldy, Cunners, Thompson, Higgo, Taz, and a cast of other players who were never in the upper echelon of the AFL for more than one off seasons if that.

Goldy is the closest to a consistent high performer and he was never in the leadership group. Cunners was Cunners and I am not gonna shoot Bambi. Higgo and Taz left, their bodies were cooked and we gave them the option but they left.

All of this above pushes us into the situation we find ourselves in.

We have some good leaders coming through (hopefully) in Sheez and Souva, I am hopeful that Jy can remain in the group and potentially improves with the release of responsibility. However as with every line we have on the ground, there are gaps in the group and there is going to be pain while we fill them.
 

The narrative has changed from the preseason, from "sick of losing" and "no ceiling" to "this game isn't that important" and "2-3 years".

It's concerning the club's waving the white flag again. If you're going to plead for more patience there needs to be an acknowledgement that the last 5+ years have been a disaster and an concrete plan explaining how it's going to be different this time.

I couldn't think of another club that would constantly bring up the closeness and togetherness of the group if they found themselves in our position. Supporters don't want their players to feel like crap but this happy-go-lucky attitude signifies they don't have the mentality required to complete. Other clubs want to rip the heart out of the opposition, we are all smiles after getting embarrassed. Obviously this doesn't apply to a few players but they're significantly outnumbered.
 

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The narrative has changed from the preseason, from "sick of losing" and "no ceiling" to "this game isn't that important" and "2-3 years".

It's concerning the club's waving the white flag again. If you're going to plead for more patience there needs to be an acknowledgement that the last 5+ years have been a disaster and an concrete plan explaining how it's going to be different this time.

I couldn't think of another club that would constantly bring up the closeness and togetherness of the group if they found themselves in our position. Supporters don't want their players to feel like crap but this happy-go-lucky attitude signifies they don't have the mentality required to complete. Other clubs want to rip the heart out of the opposition, we are all smiles after getting embarrassed. Obviously this doesn't apply to a few players but they're significantly outnumbered.
It actually makes me feel more positive, hearing that they are not dropping their heads and giving in to emotions but are committed to a program of improving to a high level over time, as individuals and as a team. And from a coach who has built this way before and achieved a lot, it’s a lot more believable than stuff I’ve heard from other coaches along the way.
 
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The narrative has changed from the preseason, from "sick of losing" and "no ceiling" to "this game isn't that important" and "2-3 years".

It's concerning the club's waving the white flag again. If you're going to plead for more patience there needs to be an acknowledgement that the last 5+ years have been a disaster and an concrete plan explaining how it's going to be different this time.

The club is essentially saying the rebuild is probably going slower than what we anticipated, and to be fair they aren't wrong sadly.

Last year after the * and Sydney games where we lost only by a kick, I was feeling we were strong chances of beating them this year.

Unfortunately right now it feels like we are still years away from upsets like that.
 
The narrative has changed from the preseason, from "sick of losing" and "no ceiling" to "this game isn't that important" and "2-3 years".

It's concerning the club's waving the white flag again. If you're going to plead for more patience there needs to be an acknowledgement that the last 5+ years have been a disaster and an concrete plan explaining how it's going to be different this time.

I couldn't think of another club that would constantly bring up the closeness and togetherness of the group if they found themselves in our position. Supporters don't want their players to feel like crap but this happy-go-lucky attitude signifies they don't have the mentality required to complete. Other clubs want to rip the heart out of the opposition, we are all smiles after getting embarrassed. Obviously this doesn't apply to a few players but they're significantly outnumbered.
The real question is why the change of attitude less than a quarter of the way through the season. It’s incredibly disappointing as a supporter to know we are really not expecting to win any games of footy internally as a club.
 
The club is essentially saying the rebuild is probably going slower than what we anticipated, and to be fair they aren't wrong sadly.

Last year after the * and Sydney games where we lost only by a kick, I was feeling we were strong chances of beating them this year.

Unfortunately right now it feels like we are still years away from upsets like that.
This time last year we were also years away from upsets like that, and then they happened.
 
The real question is why the change of attitude less than a quarter of the way through the season. It’s incredibly disappointing as a supporter to know we are really not expecting to win any games of footy internally as a club.
cant you be both sick of losing but realise we are still miles off the pace??
 
The narrative has changed from the preseason, from "sick of losing" and "no ceiling" to "this game isn't that important" and "2-3 years".

It's concerning the club's waving the white flag again. If you're going to plead for more patience there needs to be an acknowledgement that the last 5+ years have been a disaster and an concrete plan explaining how it's going to be different this time.

I couldn't think of another club that would constantly bring up the closeness and togetherness of the group if they found themselves in our position. Supporters don't want their players to feel like crap but this happy-go-lucky attitude signifies they don't have the mentality required to complete. Other clubs want to rip the heart out of the opposition, we are all smiles after getting embarrassed. Obviously this doesn't apply to a few players but they're significantly outnumbered.
I'd forgive all the happy-go-lucky stuff and about how the boys love just being around each other if just one of them actually came out on record and said "I'm not mates with anyone on the opposition teams because when the siren sounds they are my enemy and we hate them" -- but no, apparently everyone's mates with everyone in the league and it's all smiles and handshakes.

No bad blood or competitive fire actually exists in any of these boys, that or they, for some reason, aren't allowed to say these things because it "paints a bad picture of the club" or "makes them not good role models" -- I respect Charles Barkley for the fact that he said "I am not a role model", acknowledging that he just played to compete and he's a basketball player, nothing more yet we act like these sports have to serve a multifaceted purpose for existing than just admitting its about chasing different types of balls on a court or field. But for some reason in the modern AFL every player has to be a politician when we all know full well these boys are cussing and getting on the sesh like anyone else in Australia.

This fakeness and attempt at squeaky clean imagery add another layer of disconnect the fans have from the players and by association the club; like I do not buy anything the club is saying any more to its supporter base because the messaging has been the same for years (Only making tacit admissions that its gonna take longer than expected), and during those years its all hunky dory out at praccy for the lads.

It just paints a picture that nobody cares, it's not a war for them to chase the ultimate prize, its just a paycheck and they can find success anywhere else if push comes to shove. That's why players like Wardlaw and Sheezel stick out like sore thumbs, ones a consummate professional, visibly cares on game day and keeps a positive attitude and the other is hard nosed at the contest, doesn't give a flying heck what the public thinks and just says what he think, and is a competitive beast.
 
It actually makes me feel more positive, hearing that they are not dropping their heads and giving in to emotions but are committed to a program of improving to a high level over time, as individuals and as a team. And from a coach who has built this way before and achieved a lot, it’s a lot more believable than stuff I’ve heard from other coaches along the way.
All good points. I've become jaded having seen the same narrative before. The people in charge of the club have more runs on the board than previous iterations plus have more to work with. Ergo I agree that it's more likely we'll improve than not. However from Rick's analysis this week it's clear we can't even set up at center bounces properly so my trust in the hierarchy is wavering.
It's just frustrating that the club has already given up on the season as just another year of development and is spinning a narrative used previously in this godforsaken era.
 
The narrative has changed from the preseason, from "sick of losing" and "no ceiling" to "this game isn't that important" and "2-3 years".

It's concerning the club's waving the white flag again. If you're going to plead for more patience there needs to be an acknowledgement that the last 5+ years have been a disaster and an concrete plan explaining how it's going to be different this time.

I couldn't think of another club that would constantly bring up the closeness and togetherness of the group if they found themselves in our position. Supporters don't want their players to feel like crap but this happy-go-lucky attitude signifies they don't have the mentality required to complete. Other clubs want to rip the heart out of the opposition, we are all smiles after getting embarrassed. Obviously this doesn't apply to a few players but they're significantly outnumbered.
When more than half your team hasn't even played 50 games of senior footy, I'm not sure that approaching each individual game like its some matter of life and death sounds very sustainable. Especially when in the clear light of day our cattle is too inexperienced to beat preliminary finalists just yet.

I'm also not sure how you lay out a concrete plan to assuage disgruntled punters without broadcasting your strategies for the benefit of the opposition.

All I really need to know is that Clarko and Viney have a roadmap to reaching contender status that has the confidence of the playing group. They've got the licence to see that process through. A bit of temporary nourishment by way of snatching an unexpected victory would be great, but ultimately its not as important as doing the unglamorous work of ticking off the developmental milestones our club needs to play competitive footy week-in week-out.
 
This time last year we were also years away from upsets like that, and then they happened.

Yep. Footy is weird, and there are a lot of games left. The young guys who should be emerging are on track to be doing so. As frustrating as it is, I've been trying to look at the season in a macro sense. Stagnant seniors are failing us, but I'm excited by guys like Powell, Curtis, Comben, Ford, McKercher, Dawson, Wardlaw, Drury, Biggie and the truly daunting starlight of Sheezel. These guys are our future, they're just navigating games with a sub-par leadership and older players who are not performing to a level that we know they can (Zurhaar, LDU, Simpkin, Scott etc.) How this affects that younger crop remains to be seen, but we will move past them all in time.

We need to win on Sunday, and we really need to see how we're going to win in the future. Lacklustre attitudes to competitiveness are being driven from the older players downward. Stephenson has been pushed out of the side, and others are next. I'm as tired of being stuck in the mud as anyone, but I really do see reasons to believe right now.
 
When more than half your team hasn't even played 50 games of senior footy, I'm not sure that approaching each individual game like its some matter of life and death sounds very sustainable. Especially when in the clear light of day our cattle is too inexperienced to beat preliminary finalists just yet.

I'm also not sure how you lay out a concrete plan to assuage disgruntled punters without broadcasting your strategies for the benefit of the opposition.

All I really need to know is that Clarko and Viney have a roadmap to reaching contender status that has the confidence of the playing group. They've got the licence to see that process through. A bit of temporary nourishment by way of snatching an unexpected victory would be great, but ultimately its not as important as doing the unglamorous work of ticking off the developmental milestones our club needs to play competitive footy week-in week-out.
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It actually makes me feel more positive, hearing that they are not dropping their heads and giving in to emotions but are committed to a program of improving to a high level over time, as individuals and as a team. And from a coach who has built this way before and achieved a lot, it’s a lot more believable than stuff I’ve heard from other coaches along the way.
Agree. And he’s just speaking sense.
We can all see it and we know there is a way to go.

I appreciate Clarko not treating us like idiots and telling us what he thinks we’d like to hear vs reality.

As we know when coaches speak publicly it’s to the supporters and players so I can see Clarko’s take on this and his message. If we do happen to lose he doesn’t want the players dropping their heads for the rest of the year based off this one game! He wants them to stay upbeat and remain motivated to get better each day.

If we think Clarko is ‘waving the white flag’, lordy lord. Clarko and white flag should never be put in the same sentence.

And as for the ‘message’ in pre-season - memberships! And that’s understandable.
 
When more than half your team hasn't even played 50 games of senior footy, I'm not sure that approaching each individual game like its some matter of life and death sounds very sustainable. Especially when in the clear light of day our cattle is too inexperienced to beat preliminary finalists just yet.
Then don't hype up the preseason and give supporters a false sense that this year is going to be any different to previous years. Also inexperience doesn't automatically means the season will be a failure. Sydney and GWS were inexperienced last year and had successful seasons.
I'm also not sure how you lay out a concrete plan to assuage disgruntled punters without broadcasting your strategies for the benefit of the opposition.
I don't mean a matchday game plan. I mean a plan as in "We're investing X into the footy department to improve Y area, from the club review our deficiencies are A, B and C so we've done X, Y, Z to address it". Whether that's development coaching, fitness regime, structures around training/review sessions... whatever. Just show us something that shows the current setup is not just a rebrand of the same inept system because the results haven't changed.
All I really need to know is that Clarko and Viney have a roadmap to reaching contender status that has the confidence of the playing group. They've got the licence to see that process through. A bit of temporary nourishment by way of snatching an unexpected victory would be great, but ultimately its not as important as doing the unglamorous work of ticking off the developmental milestones our club needs to play competitive footy week-in week-out.
I hope so.
 
Then don't hype up the preseason and give supporters a false sense that this year is going to be any different to previous years. Also inexperience doesn't automatically means the season will be a failure. Sydney and GWS were inexperienced last year and had successful seasons.
How did the club hype up our preseason? I honestly reckon they've been pretty good at managing expectations.

Personally I'm not calling 2024 a failed season after 5 games. But I didn't expect us to play finals.

I suspect if our senior core was as good as Sydney's or GWS' then we'd be in the running.

Still, there'll be more improvements to come this year.
 
100% agree and then some.

The culture of the team appears to be dreadful and should be at the top of the list of things Clarko has to fix. The complete absence of any on-field generals. Players in the preseason saying they're sick of losing but never demonstrating it in a meaningful way. A lack of belief in themselves and a total inability to absorb pressure. Questionable work rates and willingness to do something to help out a mate. Players coming to the club and not working anywhere near hard enough. Dropping heads, having a sook, it's rubbish. Bottom line - they are losers. Understandable given they lose so often, but because of that the playing group has a loser mentality. It's chicken and egg. Did the poor results create the poor mentality, or the poor mentality create the poor results?

I only say appears to be as I'm not there and really don't know what the culture is like. Certainly there's other issues - the list is a mess, the balance in every part of the ground is out of kilter, there's too many subpar footballers and the game plan is dubious at best.

But if the culture is as bad as it appears to be then in my experience that's really hard to fix. If Clarko can do it in the 5 years he's got then he confirms his coaching greatness. I'd start with banishing the ones for whom it's too late. Don't water the rocks. Guys like Stephenson and Corr are VFL players from now on. Stephens has come to the club and just hasn't put in - see you later. I'd take the captaincy off McDonald tomorrow, leave it with Simpkin for the rest of the year and then it's Harry's in 2025 if Jy can't step up. LMac might be a popular guy and good teammate - but we need tough leaders and he is nothing like it.

It's not "play the kids" (in fact, I'd keep Greenwood in the side because he looks like a bloke who lifts standards despite his own limitations) and we can't feasibly drop 8 or 9 players and freeze them out. Over the course of the next couple of years, invest the time, and give the responsibility to those who can make a difference. Clarko should have seen enough by now to make those calls.

I'd go with poor results create poor mentality.

I grew up playing footy for several years in a side that would lose heavily most week's. With the exception of about 2 opposition teams, the other's you would go into the game knowing you had no real chance of winning. Doesn't mean I wouldn't try and play as well as I could but the reality was, it wasn't going to make any difference to the result and there was never any hope on the horizon.

You can tell in our senior blokes, McDonald is a good example, where after 4 years of repeated drubbings the belief probably isn't there anymore. As a result, he is mostly just playing out his career and probably doesn't see himself as part of the next tilt.

Some check out and leave like magoo. Zurhaar and LDU could possibly join him. I'm really not liking what i'm seeing from LDU's body language so far this season both on and off the field. Go back and have a look at the look on his face at Sheezel's contract extension announcement. I think he's one foot out the door.
 
Then don't hype up the preseason and give supporters a false sense that this year is going to be any different to previous years. Also inexperience doesn't automatically means the season will be a failure. Sydney and GWS were inexperienced last year and had successful seasons.

I don't mean a matchday game plan. I mean a plan as in "We're investing X into the footy department to improve Y area, from the club review our deficiencies are A, B and C so we've done X, Y, Z to address it". Whether that's development coaching, fitness regime, structures around training/review sessions... whatever. Just show us something that shows the current setup is not just a rebrand of the same inept system because the results haven't changed.

I hope so.
The clear difference is Swans and GWS had senior players who are more experienced and actually made finals and GF's.
We don't have that senior core leadership who are performing well to help the kids. The list will take a few years to balance and then there is development and games to be pumped into those kids so it's years before they are seasoned footballers.

It's not like we were getting out of the bottom three with our list as it currently stands (Hawks 9 wins had them 3rd last).
I think they're setting themselves for the games against teams with a similar age and experience profile. We'll win some and lose some. As Clarko said there's one eye on the now (winning games and building that culture) and one eye on the future (putting together a group that gets shared experience together for a couple of years together).

As for what has changed in terms of the footy department. Viney and Clarko really get a full year assessing things. Thursfield has taken over recruiting. New assistants Xav Clark and Adcock. New development program under Michael Barlow.
It'll take some time for these things to come together or pay off but we need some stability and patience.
 
THe pres
Then don't hype up the preseason and give supporters a false sense that this year is going to be any different to previous years. Also inexperience doesn't automatically means the season will be a failure. Sydney and GWS were inexperienced last year and had successful seasons.
There is an ecconomic reality of having a smaller supporter base of a side that has been down for some time.

They are selling hope.

Reality is we probably didn't sell any harder than we did other years just we have been down and we are still down and it is f***ing draining.

What are they going to say? Looking at our fixture this year we are predicting that within the first month all the joy of football will be gone for any supporters that are either paying attention or not looking for granular improvement. Football will be a chore where the excitement of going to a game is replace by trepidation and fear that we will yet again not be good enough.
I don't mean a matchday game plan. I mean a plan as in "We're investing X into the footy department to improve Y area, from the club review our deficiencies are A, B and C so we've done X, Y, Z to address it". Whether that's development coaching, fitness regime, structures around training/review sessions... whatever. Just show us something that shows the current setup is not just a rebrand of the same inept system because the results haven't changed.

We moved on Gavin Brown and brought in Michael Barlow. We moved on John Blakey and brought in Xavier Clarke. Both of those moves have been done with a view to more development. these happened at the end of 23.

We have refreshed practically the entire football department, Coaches, Head of footy, part of the recruitment department

Rawlings and Clayton aside most major parts have been replaced.

We had a preseason where it was categoric that we were not fit enough and that was where we focussed about all of it.

I am not sure what you are actually wanting the to tell you that they haven't already?
 
cant you be both sick of losing but realise we are still miles off the pace??
Yep you can. But don’t sell false hope all preseason and then flip the script 5 games in. Be consistent in your messaging. We know we are bad. Just come clean and say it from the start. I still don’t understand how a club participating in a competition with equalisation measures like a salary cap and the draft continues to remain perennially uncompetitive. no point trying to manipulate supporters. We are across how bad we are.
 
Yep you can. But don’t sell false hope all preseason and then flip the script 5 games in. Be consistent in your messaging. We know we are bad. Just come clean and say it from the start. I still don’t understand how a club participating in a competition with equalisation measures like a salary cap and the draft continues to remain perennially uncompetitive. no point trying to manipulate supporters. We are across how bad we are.

What false hope was being sold all preseason?
 
Yep you can. But don’t sell false hope all preseason and then flip the script 5 games in. Be consistent in your messaging. We know we are bad. Just come clean and say it from the start. I still don’t understand how a club participating in a competition with equalisation measures like a salary cap and the draft continues to remain perennially uncompetitive. no point trying to manipulate supporters. We are across how bad we are.
Not sure the brutal honesty works. Doesn't give much hope to the fans. Zurhaar's finals comments were a little optimistic but I'd rather they have a goal and you want your captain and president to be at least presenting a sense of urgency to turn it around.

Thought they had a right to be optimistic/hopeful somewhat after the summer preseason they've all had but the problem is when the real stuff starts you really find out where you are at. Is that flipping the script or just the realisation that we are a fair way off the pace with such a young and inexperienced side? Clarko has pretty consistently messaged that the kids will take time.
He may have been hopeful to get better performances out of the 24-30 year olds and also having TT out of the picture further clouds that optimism and sets things back. Goater injury doesn't help either, he was looking like having a breakout year.
 
Agree. And he’s just speaking sense.
We can all see it and we know there is a way to go.

I appreciate Clarko not treating us like idiots and telling us what he thinks we’d like to hear vs reality.

As we know when coaches speak publicly it’s to the supporters and players so I can see Clarko’s take on this and his message. If we do happen to lose he doesn’t want the players dropping their heads for the rest of the year based off this one game! He wants them to stay upbeat and remain motivated to get better each day.

If we think Clarko is ‘waving the white flag’, lordy lord. Clarko and white flag should never be put in the same sentence.

And as for the ‘message’ in pre-season - memberships! And that’s understandable.

I agree that it's great to see Clarko is not treating us like idiots because lord knows many North supporters on this very thread don't tend to warrant that assumption. The inference that Harry Sheezel, being a talented footballer playing some good football, must care a great amount, whereas Luke McDonald (or pick your preferred whipping boy) who does not have the same level of talent and is currently out of form, must not care is a pretty dumb-arse assessment of football and life in general.
 
Not sure the brutal honesty works. Doesn't give much hope to the fans. Zurhaar's finals comments were a little optimistic but I'd rather they have a goal and you want your captain and president to be at least presenting a sense of urgency to turn it around.

Thought they had a right to be optimistic/hopeful somewhat after the summer preseason they've all had but the problem is when the real stuff starts you really find out where you are at. Is that flipping the script or just the realisation that we are a fair way off the pace with such a young and inexperienced side? Clarko has pretty consistently messaged that the kids will take time.
He may have been hopeful to get better performances out of the 24-30 year olds and also having TT out of the picture further clouds that optimism and sets things back. Goater injury doesn't help either, he was looking like having a breakout year.
I 100% guarantee if it was David Nobel saying the same things around kids taking time the support around here would be far less. Anyway let’s hope they all work hard to get it together so that in a few years time press on hope and expectations actually transpires to the season proper.
 
I agree that it's great to see Clarko is not treating us like idiots because lord knows many North supporters on this very thread don't tend to warrant that assumption. The inference that Harry Sheezel, being a talented footballer playing some good football, must care a great amount, whereas Luke McDonald (or pick your preferred whipping boy) who does not have the same level of talent and is currently out of form, must not care is a pretty dumb-arse assessment of football and life in general.
Smiling after we concede our 18th of the game and patting everyone on the back after every goal comceded isn’t what we need from him as a captain. Sheezel’s body language is notably more give a heck as are his words.
 

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