Analysis Assessing the Midfield

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beatlesmith

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 18, 2006
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The Brander talk gives me a chuckle, because it's a classic West coast scenario when it comes to midfielders:

-lets draft a halfback, and makes him a midfielder!
-lets draft a small forward, and make him a midfielder!
And in Branders case
-let's draft a key position player and make him a midfielder!

Here's a crazy thought: how about we develop Brander as a forward where he has always played and make him the successor to Josh Kennedy. And then we can draft a midfielder, and (drumroll).......actually play him in the midfield.

We nail our key position guys, but by God for the last few years we suck at drafting and developing on ballers. Particularly when we try to play them out of position at half forward
I don't think Brander is being talked about as a wingman because that's what we necessarily want him to be, it's because that's where he's showing the most promise.
He's not a player who has showed that he can be a pack crashing, contested mark taking, goal kicking key forward. Allen, Williams and even Waterman seem to have him covered in those departments.
His best assets appear to be his field kicking, running ability, poise in traffic and ability below his knees for someone his size. So it's hardly surprising that 1) they play him up the ground and 2) he plays well there.
From what I've seen of Brander, he's never going to be a Kennedy replacement. That's just not his game - he isn't aggressive or physical enough to play that role in the same way that Jack Watts isn't. I think he could be a great high half forward, tall wingman or intercept defender, but a spearhead full forward he is not.
 

FKASC

Under Notice
May 28, 2017
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Poor kid.

I with Kelly in and him coming back from a serious concussion, I kinda hope we treat him like a first year player again. Would like to see him playing full time wing with a bit of on ball for the 2's. Maybe push into a full time on ball role later into the year.
Haven’t watched the footage of his concussion since it happened but it must have been really bad.
 

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Wedgetailed Westerner

Club Legend
Oct 17, 2018
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Poor kid.

I with Kelly in and him coming back from a serious concussion, I kinda hope we treat him like a first year player again. Would like to see him playing full time wing with a bit of on ball for the 2's. Maybe push into a full time on ball role later into the year.
Venners into beast mode next year. This kid is looking good after most the year off
 

ME ME ME

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Well i just found out that Hamish Brayshaw got delisted, but will be redrafted if he is available.

I wanted to see him make a debut and hope he gets another shot
 

Carbine Chaos

Ainsworth #33
Apr 1, 2009
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I find it terrifying that this is the young midfield talent on our list. Keeping in mind that we won’t have high picks for a couple of seasons as well.

Hamish Brayshaw (22) - too slow, 0 games
Daniel Venables (21) - unlikely to play again
Brayden Ainsworth (21) - can’t kick
Luke Foley (20) - already HBF in WAFL, 0 games
Xavier O’Neill (19) - possible role player
Mitch O’Neill (19) - future Tas captain

If we don’t win a flag in the next 2 years I think we’re setting ourselves up for a world of hurt.
 

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Monocle

Norm Smith Medallist
Sep 18, 2003
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I find it terrifying that this is the young midfield talent on our list. Keeping in mind that we won’t have high picks for a couple of seasons as well.

Hamish Brayshaw (22) - too slow, 0 games
Daniel Venables (21) - unlikely to play again
Brayden Ainsworth (21) - can’t kick
Luke Foley (20) - already HBF in WAFL, 0 games
Xavier O’Neill (19) - possible role player
Mitch O’Neill (19) - future Tas captain

If we don’t win a flag in the next 2 years I think we’re setting ourselves up for a world of hurt.
That is indeed scary reading.
It highlight just how bad our recruiters are at drafting genuine midfielders and its been that way for over a decade now.

I won't go on again about who we have overlooked as that tends to get the O'Brien fans all riled up and become narky and defensive.
By Fu(k we do have a host of apologists on Big Footy that defend our recruiters ad infinitum ............. hope they are enjoying the plight that we are in currently with ZERO young talent pushing up for midfield time.

Incompetence has consequences.

Sustained incompetence leads to mediocrity and failure and sadly thats where our midfield depth sits currently.

BUT the harsh reality is that our recruiters have a massive blind spot, its spotting midfielders at all points in the draft be it round 1 or the rookie list.
They draft tall's exceptionally well but their achilles heal has been mids.

Our last two drafted genuine A grade mids are Shuey ( drafted pick #18 2008) and Gaff (drafted pick# 4 2010) the closest we have recently come to drafting a quality midfielder has been a B grader in Sheed ( Drafted pick# 11 2013).
That's a long time between drinks.

Our trading in of mids has also been good Redden, Yeo and Kelly but the cost in terms of draft capital that has been spent on getting these trades done has exacerbated our midfield depth.

We were able to get a Premiership in 2018 as a result of the good trading, but the cost of these trades and the "Mother Load" of draft capital we have given up to get Kelly will take its toll going forward.

Of the list Carbine Chaos has posted the only young player that I have seen show a smigent of midfield promise, is Xavier O'Neil. ( Maybe a tad harsh of Mitch O'Neil as he hasn't had a chance to display his wares yet in the WAFL.)

I would love to be proven wrong but I just cant see this group winning another flag in the next two years as some of our senior players have now hit the wall ... father time and all that.
We need a re tweak, a re stock, for a couple of years to replace Kennedy, Hurn, Jetta, Schofield.
That process starts in earnest in the 2021 draft as we don't have a first rounder available till that time.

We won't fall off the cliff, to become spoon recipients, but we will go backwards before we become a genuine contender again.

Spine in the next five years is looking OK but the midfield is in serious need of a retool and that will require some success at the drafting table, the caveat to that, is the reality that history suggests that this current recruiting team is just not up to it.

Time for some personnel changes in the recruiting team, they have had enough chances to address our midfield depth and they keep coming up donuts and have complied a group of hybrid flankers that they think can morph into midfielders ..... just a hint recruiting team ....... maybe pick a couple of specialist genuine midfielders ..... the hybrid: Venables, Duggan, Foley types aren't and won't help our midfield depth woes.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

We need to poach recruiters that have an eye for midfield talent.
We should try to lure Micky Ablett away from the AFL position he holds over here in WA and get him on our recruiting team.
Micky has a marvellous eye for junior talent he is one of the brightest up and coming recruiting talents in the land.
 

boondy

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Nov 15, 2013
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These shortened 1/4s suit the pressure teams getting players around the ball . Slippery conditions dont help iether . If we can make finals the weather will be warmer and our kicking game will suit the warmer dryer spring weather .
 

Carbine Chaos

Ainsworth #33
Apr 1, 2009
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These shortened 1/4s suit the pressure teams getting players around the ball . Slippery conditions dont help iether . If we can make finals the weather will be warmer and our kicking game will suit the warmer dryer spring weather .
Why haven't we adapted tho. Isn't that the coaches' jobs?
 

RookiePick

Brownlow Medallist
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We look to have gone the wrong really. Most blokes looking slimmer coming in.

Needed a more explosive athletic base rather than endurance.
 

Patron

Genuine Shuperstar
Aug 1, 2010
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But we don't look fit either atm... I think our heart isn't in it in the hub, the weather hasn't suited the game plan, and the midfield isn't gelling with Kelly yet. A couple of the players appeared to not give it their all during COVID-19 isolation either. We are just getting old and tired and there's little to no young midfield talent pushing from below.
 

mattyc75

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Too slow with brander, redden and sheed in there.
Also need a player willing to do the dirty work

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
 
2020 Mid-Season Update

Dylan82

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Aug 14, 2004
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Time for a mid-season update.

After completion of Round 10 the top 50 under this rating are as follows:

Mids-Rating-2020-R10-001.jpg

Top 50 players (minimum 4 games played). Refer to the OP for details on calculation method.


West Coast are currently the only club with five players placed within the top 50 for this rating.


Indeed, when tallying the combined best six, the club is well in front of the rest of the competition as per expectations at the start of the season.

Mids-Rating-2020-R10-003.jpg

The trade acquisition of Kelly is already having a significant impact in just half a season.


Beyond this there remains a chasm in depth - this typified 2019 - the difference this year is the obvious inclusion of Kelly and the rejuvenation of Naitanui.

Mids-Rating-2020-R10-002.jpg

Note the dips in individual output as Kelly is accommodated, but improvement in the team output overall.

The other notable observation is that six of the above top 20 within the club did not even rank inside the top 500 in 2019. That is a significant shift for any club, lest one that is hunting for the premiership. Considering four of the nine matches to Round 10 by the club were played before the tactical shift that liberated Nelson, Duggan and Cole to impact higher up the ground, it will be interesting to see how this progresses through the rest of the season.


Because that next level of midfield support is the weak spot of this team.

Mids-Rating-2020-R10-004.jpg

Note the few numbers of players in the light green and yellow brackets at West Coast in comparison to premiership rivals.

Development of players to fill this gap will consolidate the dominance that the elite talent at the club is able to provide.


The club's midfield has without question the highest quality available in the competition - and with a terrible 1-3 start growing smaller with each passing week, these ratings are likely to improve further during the rest of the season. The key question mark hangs over the supporting group and what improvement may come from there - the ultimate success or failure of the year will be heavily dependent on this outcome.
 

FKASC

Under Notice
May 28, 2017
15,385
27,739
AFL Club
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Time for a mid-season update.

After completion of Round 10 the top 50 under this rating are as follows:

View attachment 931816
Top 50 players (minimum 4 games played). Refer to the OP for details on calculation method.


West Coast are currently the only club with five players placed within the top 50 for this rating.


Indeed, when tallying the combined best six, the club is well in front of the rest of the competition as per expectations at the start of the season.

View attachment 931817
The trade acquisition of Kelly is already having a significant impact in just half a season.


Beyond this there remains a chasm in depth - this typified 2019 - the difference this year is the obvious inclusion of Kelly and the rejuvenation of Naitanui.

View attachment 931822
Note the dips in individual output as Kelly is accommodated, but improvement in the team output overall.

The other notable observation is that six of the above top 20 within the club did not even rank inside the top 500 in 2019. That is a significant shift for any club, lest one that is hunting for the premiership. Considering four of the nine matches to Round 10 by the club were played before the tactical shift that liberated Nelson, Duggan and Cole to impact higher up the ground, it will be interesting to see how this progresses through the rest of the season.


Because that next level of midfield support is the weak spot of this team.

View attachment 931827
Note the few numbers of players in the light green and yellow brackets at West Coast in comparison to premiership rivals.

Development of players to fill this gap will consolidate the dominance that the elite talent at the club is able to provide.


The club's midfield has without question the highest quality available in the competition - and with a terrible 1-3 start growing smaller with each passing week, these ratings are likely to improve further during the rest of the season. The key question mark hangs over the supporting group and what improvement may come from there - the ultimate success or failure of the year will be heavily dependent on this outcome.
And most of those yellows and oranges aren’t even mids. I suspect other teams would have depth mids in those sections.
 
2020 Post Season Update

Dylan82

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So season 2020 is done.

Here are the top 50 players for the 2020 season according to this means of ranking (minimum 5 games played):

Mids-Rating-2020-PostSeason-001.jpg

Top 50 midfield rankings 2020: note once again the highest ranked player is also the Brownlow medallist (since 2010 only twice has that year's medallist placed outside of the top three rankings).


West Coast are one of just two clubs (the other being Richmond) to have 5 players ranked inside the top 50 and is the only club in the competition with 4 players inside the top 30.

Naitanui at 14th is just the second time a ruckman has placed inside the top 20 since this system's commencement in 2005 - the other occasion being Sandilands in 2010.

The expectations for the best six from the club after last year's trade period were not unfounded - they ranked clearly ahead of all other clubs:

Mids-Rating-2020-PostSeason-003.jpg

Club midfield rankings comparison: Top 6 players, post trade period 2019 and post season 2020. Note West Coast is a standout #1 here, ahead of Richmond, who improved significantly. GWS fell a staggering 14 places from 2nd to 16th.


Yet, for all of the strength of the above, the club ranked 15th in the competition for both contested possessions and metres gained per game in 2020.

It is the same story again as the previous year, a lack of support for that top tier of players.


Here is the list of club midfield rankings for the 2020 season:

Mids-Rating-2020-PostSeason-002.jpg

West Coast Eagles midfield rankings 2020: note the improvement from Naitanui and the quality falling off a cliff beyond Gaff. Alarmingly, Redden has now dropped 78 places over the past two seasons.

A complete lack of assistance for that elite bracket. The story of the season is when members of that group were not available for decisive matches, the club had no-one to call upon and cover their loss.

Indeed, when we look beyond the best six ranked players the club is without question the worst in this area when compared to the rest of the competition:

Mids-Rating-2020-PostSeason-004.jpg

Competition midfield rankings 2020: note that 3 of the 4 Preliminary finalists occupy the highest positions for players ranked 7-12 and 13-20, whereas West Coast come in at a miserable 17th and 18th.


The 2020 season, despite all of its novelties and upheavals, ended up being a repeat of 2019.

The quality of first choice midfield was the best of any, but the supporting cast were woefully inadequate.

Aside from the procurement of T.Kelly, nothing was done to improve this gaping deficiency and perhaps it should then not come as any surprise that the season delivered a similar result.


The club is not in need of big name targets for its improvement. What needs to take place is the acquisition of a number of B and C grade players who are capable of facilitating a role and elevate that 7-12 group to improve the squad overall.

Whether it occurs at the trade table or through mature-aged draftee selections that can provide immediate contribution, if the club fails to address this area then 2021 is likely to go down the same worn path of underachievement as 2019 and 2020.


Further notes:
  • refer to the OP for the method of ranking calculation.
  • this method is far from perfect, but allows an "apples-for-apples" comparison with previous seasons going back to 2005.
  • There is a more comprehensive ranking system that covers other positions in addition to midfielders available within the Squad Selection & Ratings resource.
 

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