- Oct 9, 2013
- AFL Club
- Western Bulldogs
Good post I think you summed it up well. I wouldn't discount youth though based on a comparison of one game. I think overall we are a young team and have had the younger team in the majority of games this year.Another baffling loss, not just the losing, but the manner of losing. We were never in it after the first 10 minutes.
Our results are all over the place but we're seeing a bit of that right across the competition. It's a weird season.
Here are some of the bigger picture explanations (i.e. not focussing too much on individuals) that have occurred to me, and a few others have posted similar thoughts. Not all of them stack up though.
1. Lack of effective leadership - YES. see my OP in another thread. This problem compounds all the other problems IMO. Not enough suitable leaders onfield, and I suspect off field too.
Youth - NO. It can perhaps be used to explain some variable performance from week to week but we aren't even that young. It certainly can't be used as an excuse this week especially when the teams matched up like this last night:
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Hubs - NOT MUCH. It's hard to say how much the experience of living and playing in hubs is having on players but every Vic club is facing the same thing (including Richmond) so we're not unique. Certainly it's a test of resilience. My guess is older players are probably better equipped to deal with it mentally but then they are the ones more likely to have family to worry about as well. Bevo says they're taking it as an exciting challenge, which is probably the best approach.
Packed Fixture - NOT MUCH. Same story as hubs, every club has to deal with it. Those who play it "one game at a time" and don't let it get to them mentally are likely to get through it best. Let the club's physios and coaches do the worrying about who to rotate and when. I've no idea if one club is doing it better or worse than the average at this stage. Apart from one or two players I think we're doing OK on this physically and can't use it as an excuse.
Playing in Qld at night - YES. Whether it's the rain or just a damper atmosphere we are constantly playing in greasy conditions. It's true that other clubs are facing the same but it seems to have more impact on our style of play and we don't seem to have adapted. The ball becomes slick and the one-touch plays become turnovers and fumbles. That affects our confidence in ball-handling and so it deteriorates. It wouldn't be such a problem if not for ...
Tactical inertia - YES. AKA "where is plan B?" We don't seem to be making the adjustments necessary, at least not quickly enough. Examples are the Carlton game (I think that was the one) where they took every opportunity to drive the ball forward in the wet but we fluffed around with handballs looking for the perfect player in space so he could kick forward without pressure to a target. We kept handballing until the persistent Carlton pressure resulted in a turnover. When we changed later in the game to more of an old fashioned territory contest we did better. It might work well at Marvel but not at Metricon. It's still deeply ingrained - so much that last night McLean took a free kick in the fourth quarter and handballed to a surprised Daniel who was ambling past to take a more forward position. Result - Daniel was pantsed and the ball was turned over. Other examples of tactical inertia include the failure to provide a counter move once Stuey Dew figured out how to nullify English. And others have discussed our over-reliance on a zone defence which has been unpicked a few times forcing us into unfavourable mismatches deep in defence.
Structure/personnel - MOSTLY YES. ( This one's a bit of a catch-all so it's not going to be a simple yes or no. ) Our defence is capable, well structured and well-drilled so generally I'd say we're OK there. We lack a good intercept marker who can roam, although in theory Wood should still be capable of that. Keath is required to pay close attention to the KPFs so it can't be him, and Naughton's now a forward. English was doing it for a while but oppo coaches are onto him. We also get found out when it does become a one-on-one in our back 50. At the other end of the ground we have only one KPF target (Bruce) and he has struggled with marking because of the conditions (and perhaps his own condition too). Most of the other forwards are slow, out of form and/or injured (and most aren't natural forwards anyway). A couple are just starting their football careers. Only Wallace and Vandermeer can hold their head up. The midfield is doing OK but is pretty slow apart from Bailey Smith. The ruck is a continuing weakness. No matter how good everyone thinks Tim English will become one day, he's not dominating any games yet. Well maybe just once, against Essendon.
Injuries - NOT REALLY. Most clubs have their share and we're probably somewhere in the middle. Sure it'd be nice to get Dunkley, Hunter and Naughton back. They would certainly have made us more competitive but I doubt they'd have got us over the line against Richmond last night.
In summary - Seems to me a lot of our recurring problems are due to structural weaknesses (ruck and forwards) and lack of strong onfield leadership, combined with slowness to adapt tactically. Our game style isn't suited to greasy conditions and we don't seem able to adjust it.
Disregarding any game-to-game comparisons though, I think it's undisputable that we have generally been putting out a young team compared to the rest of the comp.
Generally finals teams will have played around an average of 100 games, we have fielded a side of over an average of 85 games played only once this year.
What is the number one thing about young sides...? Consistency. And that has been our core issue with performance. Some weeks we look like we could beat anyone, other weeks we look like we'd lose to the Crows.
Another factor I think is consistency in the team selection. Too much chopping and changing has means the groups haven't been able to gel much. Backline has been the most stable, and it is our best performing group.