Would love to know which fans they spoke to. Most of the noise in the media was WCE drivenIn a nutshell
Finals looked achievable before injuries hit hard and it all fell apart. Fans were ready to move on from the Ross Lyon era and the board agreed, axing the club's longest-serving coach and CEO Steve Rosich to herald a fresh start.
What we said in the pre-season
Tipped the rebuilding Dockers to finish 13th and that's where they landed, with their lack of depth exposed after the bye. Predicting Jesse Hogan to be the recruit of the year didn't quite work out, and his career could hinge on successful navicular surgery and rehabilitation. Picking Nat Fyfe for his second Brownlow was a no-brainer and the superstar skipper will be right in the mix.
Sonny's midfield exposure
After losing Lachie Neale, the Dockers needed Michael Walters to help fill the breach and he was magnificent, averaging 21.8 disposals while still kicking 40 goals to deservedly earn his first Virgin Australia AFL All Australian blazer.
An unexpected ruck
Rory Lobb picked Freo over West Coast partly to play in attack but it was in the middle where the Dockers got the most out of him. With Sean Darcy's name raised in trade speculation, could Lobb be the No.1 ruck in 2020?
Knuckled down over pre-season in a bid not to waste his career. Kicked 24 goals in his first 11 games before fading. Something to build upon.
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Ross Lyon's gamestyle
Questions about the culture and staff burnout lingered but the direction of the rebuild was also concerning. Fans had tired of the attritional, defensive brand Freo reverted to once injuries hit and the lack of skill development.
There is no denying injuries cruelled the Dockers, with Stephen Hill, Jesse Hogan, Alex Pearce, Matt Taberner and Harley Bennell among the quality personnel sidelined for long periods.
Again, injuries didn't help in some cases, but it's hard to argue key youngsters Adam Cerra, Sean Darcy, Griffin Logue, Brennan Cox or Connor Blakely took major strides forward in 2019. Andy Brayshaw was a tick.
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Improved to nine wins and generally competed but ultimately blew the chance to play finals.
The jungle drums became louder and louder about Ross Lyon's future as the season wore on, amid speculation about other coaching jobs and Freo's refusal to extend his contract beyond 2020. The board already knew Lyon wasn't the man to take them forward, but missing finals for a fourth-straight year gave them impetus to act swiftly and brutally to remove him after round 22.
Nat Fyfe: You could mount a strong argument for Walters after his match-winning feats, but Fyfe's consistent greatness gets him over the line. He could join elite company by winning his second Brownlow Medal in a matter of weeks.
Darcy Tucker: Had been on the fringes for three seasons but cemented a spot through the middle and half-forward and showed plenty, averaging 19.1 disposals and kicking 10 goals.
Luke Ryan: Would have been an All Australian contender if he didn't ping a hamstring in round 19. The emerging defender is tough, a beautiful kick and excellent overhead. The Dockers must do everything possible to re-sign him beyond 2020.
Stephen Hill: If there's a team that can't afford to have their best ball user sidelined it's the Dockers, and Hill managed just three games with more soft-tissue woes. Fremantle must get him right to offset the likely departure of brother Bradley.
Round five: Greater Western Sydney 11.16 (82) d by. Fremantle 16.10 (106)
Snapping the Giants' nine-game streak in Canberra was a huge upset, even if beating Brisbane and Collingwood were more dramatic wins. Freo's improved ball movement and potent forward line was everything supporters crave.
Highlights: GWS v Fremantle
Best individual performance
Michael Walters: Round 10 v Brisbane at Optus Stadium
Take your pick from any of Walters' performances against the Lions, Pies or Power during his mid-season purple patch. The Brisbane game - when he had 25 touches and kicked two goals, plus the match-winning behind - was a stunning finale to Sir Doug Nicholls Round and revived Freo's season.
Incredible scenes as Walters wins it after siren
Sacking the coach and CEO is never a sign things are going swimmingly. This is the chance to hit the refresh button on and off the field.
The big questions
Who will the next coach (and CEO) be?
Can the Dockers land Tim Kelly and what will it cost?
Will Alex Pearce, Jesse Hogan, Stephen Hill and Matt Taberner overcome serious repeat injury concerns?
Season in a movie title
Retirements: Aaron Sandilands.
Delistings: Hayden Ballantyne, Harley Bennell, Shane Kersten.
Unsigned free agents: Ryan Nyhuis.
Freo give a new look to being chaired off
How should they approach trade and draft period?
With an open mind. If Tim Kelly is willing to come, then go and get him. Use every bit of leverage to extract maximum value from Bradley Hill's departure, and take a serious look at top under-18s talent – especially WA guns Luke Jackson and Deven Robertson – while ensuring enough draft points to secure Next Generation Academy star Liam Henry.
Early call for 2020
So much depends on injuries. The Dockers' top 25 players form the nucleus of a very competitive squad, but depth is a major issue. If the new coach demands better skills, implements a more balanced gamestyle and has his best talent fit then Fremantle can play finals.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs
I highly doubt it would have been talkback callers that they’re referring to.Would love to know which fans they spoke to. Most of the noise in the media was WCE driven
But it was far from unanimousI highly doubt it would have been talkback callers that they’re referring to.
It would’ve been supporters. At the games, people they know, family, friends, sponsors, work mates, etc etc. They don’t sit in a concrete office all day with no interaction with the public.
Good points. I think the key is not to make shortsighted decisions right now based on impatience for success and an inaccurate view that the ‘rebuild is complete’. We have a good top 20-22 players on the young side of their prime and if we attack this draft with the strong WA talent in it from draft picks we can get for Langdon and Hill, we can really improve our depth and set the club up for some sustained success.Soz, long post
I want to see the club take a greater view of a sustainable strategy rather than immediate success, given the impatience of many because of our miserable history.
Ambitions and 'five year plans' of success, with ultimatums like Lyon & Rosich just had where they had to make finals this year, creates irrational list management and narrower 'windows'.
It requires patience and making the best decision for the long term future for the club.
We have a crippling depth problem at the moment, because we were unwillingly forced into a rebuild just because winning was not possible entering the 2016 season. We could only deal with that rebuild in the off-season of that year. So after a few years of recruiting and drafting we've assembled a list, with a good 15 players that are still inadequate and unlikely to make an AFL career for themselves. Despite this, Alcock sends the members a letter at the start of the year declaring that the 'Rebuild is Complete'.
Just because we rebuilt, doesn't mean it was done correctly. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't.
In order to make a robust list, that's capable of winning a premiership, that right decision needs to be made every time and being prepared to cop bad luck on the chin.
Although I hate the contracts and recruitment of players like Shane Kersten & Travis Colyer, decisions like that brought us Rory Lobb, Joel Hamling, Nathan Wilson, Brad Hill & Brandon Matera. Offering mid-ranged draft picks for WA players is a strategy that will further strengthen our list and sustain it.
However, pushing all-in on a broken down Jesse Hogan, with dubious off-field behaviours, because the club felt external pressures of needing a key-forward and simultaneously misreading what was a very strong draft..... well that's the wrong decision. We make that 100 times, we'll be a long way behind.
We absolutely did the right thing by having Weller & Neale still contract and dealing them when they were, because you can gain multiple assets to prepare you for the future. If we had Weller & Neale in 2019 we still would have missed the finals, because our depth was garbage.
Having depth covers the inevitable movements like Langdon & Brad Hill departing, we should have at least 2-3 players in every position that are poised to come through.
Optimistically we have a very good 17-22 players who are mostly in a young age bracket that will support us for another 5-8 years. Pessimistically however, I can't see enough depth coming through that will catch up to the prime of Fyfe & Walters. If we stay injury free we'll play finals the next two years, but recent history has told us that we wont...
Your club had to make only 3 changes, I said this about 6 months back...sack Lyon, Rosich and hire Peter Sumich as coach and you will win a flag within years.
Smells funny.I started this rumour and it grew some legs, no club in their right mind would hire him as senior coach ? could be getting a gig developing at West Coast at best.
Yep, we’ve been sadly lacking in that area. That’s the missing ingredient imo. Henry will be welcomed but probably won’t be ready for a while. If we can get Flanders or Stephens in the draft to go along with him it’d do the job. Otherwise entice Bolton to come home.I wonder how we would look with 3 or 4 quick forwards who can all tackle , Mark and kick a goal.
Sturt, Henry, plus 2 more.
That and better depth and we should play finals.
7. The team going into 2020
B: Ryan Hamling Logue
HB: Hughes Pearce Wilson
C: S Hill Walters Cerra
HF: Tucker Tabs Sturt
F: Matera Hogan Lobb
R: Darcy Fyfe Brayshaw
INT: Blakely Cox Mundy Conca
EMG: Henry Carter Switta Duman Cam Mac