Our Midfield - Our Current Failure and Start of our Rebirth

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BunjiMac

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Sep 20, 2007
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Regarding Matt Crouch, I've been as big a fan of him as any over the journey, but I have to admit, it seems like the competitive fire is just barely flickering right now. I don't see the same mongrel and desire in him of years gone by.

I genuinely think Nicks needs to fuel that fire by making him fight for his spot again. Matt plays his best footy when he's got something to prove, so our coaches need to give him something to prove
He used to be an inside midfielder who would work and burrow for his possessions, but in reality he's become an outside midfielder positioning as first receiver. Someone with his physical attributes should not be first receiver. You need to be either extremely quick or skilful and he is neither. He's become lazy and seduced by stats rather than ruthlessly wanting to win.
 

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He used to be an inside midfielder who would work and burrow for his possessions, but in reality he's become an outside midfielder positioning as first receiver. Someone with his physical attributes should not be first receiver. You need to be either extremely quick or skilful and he is neither. He's become lazy and seduced by stats rather than ruthlessly wanting to win.
Agreed. When he came into the league he was given nothing. He worked his way into a stacked midfield rotation through pure grit and determination. Would stick his head where angel feared to get the pill if necessary. But really he hasn't played that way since probably the GF loss IMO.

I think its still in him, but he needs to be managed to get it out of him. And as you rightly pointed out, getting his possessions as a true inside midfielder, not as a slow, not particularly damaging outside player
 

glengowan

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I’m starting to think Smith is best to leave at half back, both for himself and the team. Forget the midfield for him.

Also thinking Milera won’t be the star mid and will be better used on a forward flank with spurts in the midfield. 12 touches up forward from him may be better than 20 off half back.

We need some drive from half back and class up forward.

Get midfield minutes into the young genuine midfielders. Someone mentioned playing Sloane on a wing - I like that idea. Wouldn’t mind seeing if Murphy has what it takes in the middle too.
 

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radzyb

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Yet we signed him for a five year contract in Feb this year - five years ffs. Of course, he has his security blanket now, we can’t trade him if we ever wanted to with that contract.

Yes, we need to put it in him to produce and produce consistently. He is 22 years old and in his fifth year.
Milera is the man. He's tough, has flair and more skillful then most in our team. Bang him in the middle and leave him there. I'd like to go even further next year and say "Hey Wayne, its your side now, see where you can take us" as opposed to continuing our run of having captains clearly past their best.
 

Mr_Moogle

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And how many times did our players have options/players in space compared to Port, especially forward of centre?, how many times were Port players under little pressure when they disposed of the ball compared to our players? Two words WORK RATE.

I don't know what it is but right across the board the only player in our team last night that worked his ass off all night was ROB....there has to more to it than meets the eye.
Yet Nicks said in the presser he was happy with the amount of effort and that the players were trying their guts out.
 

1970crow

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I’ve posted this as a working theory before and I’m starting to lean towards it. And to those delicate souls this isn’t Thommo bashing. Both Thommo and Matt were/are excellent stoppage accumulators. Both largely used hands or indiscriminate kicks to clear the area. Both slow, neither player being capable of breaking lines or playing in a manner that would give them that opportunity. Both 6ft and not particularly dangerous overhead and both basically competent by foot. I’m struggling to think of similar players at successful clubs over the last decade and a bit. Whilst they’re probably the 2 best of their type over the last 15 years, I don’t think the role belongs in a modern midfield. Especially one without a dominant tap ruckman and even moreso when that ruckman‘s main weapon is deployed after the ball hits the deck.

Overall, I think we are too fixated on exact roles and squeeze players into them. Not that Matt is squeezed in, but I think the role needs to be questioned.
 

Grenville

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I’ve posted this as a working theory before and I’m starting to lean towards it. And to those delicate souls this isn’t Thommo bashing. Both Thommo and Matt were/are excellent stoppage accumulators. Both largely used hands or indiscriminate kicks to clear the area. Both slow, neither player being capable of breaking lines or playing in a manner that would give them that opportunity. Both 6ft and not particularly dangerous overhead and both basically competent by foot. I’m struggling to think of similar players at successful clubs over the last decade and a bit. Whilst they’re probably the 2 best of their type over the last 15 years, I don’t think the role belongs in a modern midfield. Especially one without a dominant tap ruckman and even moreso when that ruckman‘s main weapon is deployed after the ball hits the deck.

Overall, I think we are too fixated on exact roles and squeeze players into them. Not that Matt is squeezed in, but I think the role needs to be questioned.
Priddis maybe? You're right though, not a lot of evidence to make it a "must have" role.
Product of 20 years of poor draft picks (acknowledging the mismanagement that led to that)
 

Thetrader15

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Priddis maybe? You're right though, not a lot of evidence to make it a "must have" role.
Product of 20 years of poor draft picks (acknowledging the mismanagement that led to that)
I assume you mean the picks we had, not who we selected! We have had poor picks, but done very well with them over the last 20 years

Scott West, Priddis, Cunnington
 

Thetrader15

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I’ve posted this as a working theory before and I’m starting to lean towards it. And to those delicate souls this isn’t Thommo bashing. Both Thommo and Matt were/are excellent stoppage accumulators. Both largely used hands or indiscriminate kicks to clear the area. Both slow, neither player being capable of breaking lines or playing in a manner that would give them that opportunity. Both 6ft and not particularly dangerous overhead and both basically competent by foot. I’m struggling to think of similar players at successful clubs over the last decade and a bit. Whilst they’re probably the 2 best of their type over the last 15 years, I don’t think the role belongs in a modern midfield. Especially one without a dominant tap ruckman and even moreso when that ruckman‘s main weapon is deployed after the ball hits the deck.

Overall, I think we are too fixated on exact roles and squeeze players into them. Not that Matt is squeezed in, but I think the role needs to be questioned.
I agree. We all know our balance has been wrong for a few years, too many inside mids and no 'elite run and carry' on the outside. With Sloane, Matt, Brad (who has the most outside spread and speed of them all), Douglas, Lyons, Greenwood plus pumping about 30 games into CEY and Brode Martin over 8 years they were all very similar.

Obviously we have moved over the last couple of years to get more speed in there, which has been missing since Dangerflog moved on, but other than he and Smith and Milera, we really haven't had much over the last 6 years. This will take time to change.

They have all been relatively 'good' players, but not elite and too easy to tag out of the game (if you need to tag them at all).

There's no Sam Mitchell, Gary Ablett, or even players with a POD such as Bont, Lewis, Bartel, Pendles, Judd or Goodes.

Then we move onto midfield coaching...
 

Sanders

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Milera is the man. He's tough, has flair and more skillful then most in our team. Bang him in the middle and leave him there. I'd like to go even further next year and say "Hey Wayne, its your side now, see where you can take us" as opposed to continuing our run of having captains clearly past their best.
Tough?
 

Truck25

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And how many times did our players have options/players in space compared to Port, especially forward of centre?, how many times were Port players under little pressure when they disposed of the ball compared to our players? Two words WORK RATE.

I don't know what it is but right across the board the only player in our team last night that worked his ass off all night was ROB....there has to more to it than meets the eye.
I think it goes deeper than just work rate, I think it is our fitness. We haven't looked fit for 2 years now and we are still suffering under the Burton fitness plan with Hass in charge. This needs to change. We didn't chase, didn't work Saturday night but when you look at the faces of the players they were stuffed, yes it is harder chasing but it is a shortened game so they shouldn't be that tired.
 

glengowan

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How does O'Brien go in the ruck, purely with his tap and clearance work? Is there any stats that compare his work to others in the comp or to Jacobs?

He played well on the weekend, but have we adjusted to his style? He seems to do a lot of old fashioned kick behind the play work and mopping up the high ball at half back, whereas Jacobs was very much used as a link player and had good foot skills. I'd back in O'Brien to do the bullocking work at a clearance, but would rather him handpass than be made to kick.

I think we have neglected the ruck position somewhat. It was clear Jacobs was declining after the Grand Final year. O'Brien has done well, but a little bit like a wicketkeeper in cricket, you still need to have a really good ruckman at those ball ups.

With the way O'Brien plays - I think we could easily have another ruckman playing alongside him as O'Brien could add value forward or back in spurts. So can Frampton or Strachan be, or very quickly become, AFL level ruckman to assist O'Brien?
 

feenix67

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I think it goes deeper than just work rate, I think it is our fitness. We haven't looked fit for 2 years now and we are still suffering under the Burton fitness plan with Hass in charge. This needs to change. We didn't chase, didn't work Saturday night but when you look at the faces of the players they were stuffed, yes it is harder chasing but it is a shortened game so they shouldn't be that tired.
When I was an aging midfielder back in the day, I got to know where to put myself to offset my decreasing ability to run all day. You just get to "know" how to read the game. You get proactive not reactive.

What I see from the Crouches is flat footedness and reactiveness after the ball has left their area. I think this is what Nicks means, they're running, but they're not playing smart, not running to the right spots and therefore chasing all day. Hence why we got cut up on transition against Port
 

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GrommoT

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Aug 7, 2015
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How does O'Brien go in the ruck, purely with his tap and clearance work? Is there any stats that compare his work to others in the comp or to Jacobs?

He played well on the weekend, but have we adjusted to his style? He seems to do a lot of old fashioned kick behind the play work and mopping up the high ball at half back, whereas Jacobs was very much used as a link player and had good foot skills. I'd back in O'Brien to do the bullocking work at a clearance, but would rather him handpass than be made to kick.

I think we have neglected the ruck position somewhat. It was clear Jacobs was declining after the Grand Final year. O'Brien has done well, but a little bit like a wicketkeeper in cricket, you still need to have a really good ruckman at those ball ups.

With the way O'Brien plays - I think we could easily have another ruckman playing alongside him as O'Brien could add value forward or back in spurts. So can Frampton or Strachan be, or very quickly become, AFL level ruckman to assist O'Brien?
Our very own big bodied mid?


 

SaltPeter

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Our very own big bodied mid?


Its great how much his kicking has actually improved in the last 15 mths. I still remember people getting all excited and me telling the bloke next to me at AO when he had his first set shot on goal, "this could go anywhere". Haha, he shanked it out on the full
 

Mutineer

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Its great how much his kicking has actually improved in the last 15 mths. I still remember people getting all excited and me telling the bloke next to me at AO when he had his first set shot on goal, "this could go anywhere". Haha, he shanked it out on the full
I've watched ROB right through from the Calder Cannons/SANFL/AFL his field kicking whilst awkward generally goes in the direction he wants give or take a metre or two but his set shot goal kicking has always been very, very hit and miss. Whilst his technique is "different" I think that's more between the ears than any other factor.
 

Mutineer

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I’ve posted this as a working theory before and I’m starting to lean towards it. And to those delicate souls this isn’t Thommo bashing. Both Thommo and Matt were/are excellent stoppage accumulators. Both largely used hands or indiscriminate kicks to clear the area. Both slow, neither player being capable of breaking lines or playing in a manner that would give them that opportunity. Both 6ft and not particularly dangerous overhead and both basically competent by foot. I’m struggling to think of similar players at successful clubs over the last decade and a bit. Whilst they’re probably the 2 best of their type over the last 15 years, I don’t think the role belongs in a modern midfield. Especially one without a dominant tap ruckman and even moreso when that ruckman‘s main weapon is deployed after the ball hits the deck.

Overall, I think we are too fixated on exact roles and squeeze players into them. Not that Matt is squeezed in, but I think the role needs to be questioned.
Tom Mitchell, Lachie Neale, Ollie Wines, Seb Ross, Jarryd Lyons, Touk Miller, Jack Steele, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones......there's a lot more inside accumulators not gifted with speed than you think.
 

1970crow

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Tom Mitchell, Lachie Neale, Ollie Wines, Seb Ross, Jarryd Lyons, Touk Miller, Jack Steele, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones......there's a lot more inside accumulators not gifted with speed than you think.
It's not just speed, it's where they largely get the ball. Jones the closest as is geared more towards stoppages and doesn't run with the ball. The rest I see exit stoppages on foot and do more work around the ground in general play. But even then, which of those is playing in a successful side?
 

Mutineer

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It's not just speed, it's where they largely get the ball. Jones the closest as is geared more towards stoppages and doesn't run with the ball. The rest I see exit stoppages on foot and do more work around the ground in general play. But even then, which of those is playing in a successful side?
Not more than Matt Crouch, that's just plain wrong.....check their uncontested numbers against his over the last 3 or 4 years
 

Betts are off

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When I was an aging midfielder back in the day, I got to know where to put myself to offset my decreasing ability to run all day. You just get to "know" how to read the game. You get proactive not reactive.

What I see from the Crouches is flat footedness and reactiveness after the ball has left their area. I think this is what Nicks means, they're running, but they're not playing smart, not running to the right spots and therefore chasing all day. Hence why we got cut up on transition against Port
I genuinely believe that the Crouch boys are extremely gifted players in terms of getting the ball. But they have proven to be almost comically bad at understanding 'playing space' within the midfield, when together.

As soon as the ball is thrown up they are constantly in each others playing space because they both click straight back into "Seeball-Getball" mode, as opposed to sticking to structure. And opposition midfield coaches have seemingly caught onto to it to.

So at stoppages they either;
1) Win the ball in an tight space that congested by them, their opponent, the other Crouch and his opponent. Resulting in a higher % of low quality clearances
or
2) Their opposition player wins the ball in the ample space left by the Crouch brothers, and runs directly towards goal without a finger laid on him, putting our defense under enormous pressure.

They are very good players, and that's there is definitely room for a Seeball-Getball type in every midfield, but I strongly believe they are both better without the other at stoppages. And more importantly, so are we!
 

cleanhands

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I've watched ROB right through from the Calder Cannons/SANFL/AFL his field kicking whilst awkward generally goes in the direction he wants give or take a metre or two but his set shot goal kicking has always been very, very hit and miss. Whilst his technique is "different" I think that's more between the ears than any other factor.
I have never been a big knocker of his kicking, really only remember one real bad shot on goal early in his first couple of games, I know it looks horrible but I think too many may remember that same kick
 

Betts are off

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I have never been a big knocker of his kicking, really only remember one real bad shot on goal early in his first couple of games, I know it looks horrible but I think too many may remember that same kick
He's probably had 3 bad shots on goal throughout his career. But you're right, outside of those his field kicking although infrequent and gangly in style, does seem to be effective enough.
 

Mutineer

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I have never been a big knocker of his kicking, really only remember one real bad shot on goal early in his first couple of games, I know it looks horrible but I think too many may remember that same kick
He's also had some absolute howlers in front of goals in the SANFL believe me. Played nearly a whole season at Centre Half Back for the Calder Cannons when their Centre half back Jake Lever went down with his ACL, I remember one Finals game where he did a very good job on the Oakleigh Chargers gun forward at the time Darcy Moore. His field kicking is passable for a tall. I'd be more confident in him playing down back or a kick behind play than up forward. ;)
 

cleanhands

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He's also had some absolute howlers in front of goals in the SANFL believe me. Played nearly a whole season at Centre Half Back for the Calder Cannons when their Centre half back Jake Lever went down with his ACL, I remember one Finals game where he did a very good job on the Oakleigh Chargers gun forward at the time Darcy Moore. His field kicking is passable for a tall. I'd be more confident in him playing down back or a kick behind play than up forward. ;)
You have obviously seen more of him than I so happy to take your word, mind you I have seen Maxy Gawn have some howlers in front of goal
 

mattymac

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Wow Rowe speaking to Brad Crouch just unloaded on ROB saying his ruck craft is poor compared to Sauce.

Followed by "that's not an excuse mind you" in typical Rowe form.
 

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