Opinion WHERE WILL THE IMPROVEMENT COME FROM?

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CursingFijian

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Seasons greetings, Sainters!

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It's that time of the year again, when we're all basking in that post-draft, pre-christmas positivity. We're feeling good and we're looking great. Houses are being trained to the ground and we're unsure whether or not we should keep the F word out of our 2022 projections lest we put a pox on the club before a single ball has been handballed in anger.

But let's be honest here, the disappointment of missing out this year is well behind us and there is a growing expectation that we improve enough for another finals tilt next year. How deep into September we can go is another issue, but we just expect to be there.

If we are expecting our relative improvement to be sufficient enough for us to overcome another tough fixture and sit among the top 8 my question to you is where will that improvement come from and who is going to drive the rise?

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HOW DO WE STACK UP?

So how do our team averages stack up in various statistical categories? Below is a list statistical measures with our ranking. I have put the minor premiers - Melbourne - ranking in brackets for an easy comparison.

Top 6
Hitouts - 4th (1st)
Marks - 6th (16th)
Freekicks For - 6th (9th)
Tackles Inside 50 - 4th (1st)
Tackles - 3rd (1st)

Middle 6
Disposals - 7th (8th)
Kicks - 8th (10th)
Inside 50 - 10th (2nd)
Clangers - 12th (16th)
Uncontested Possessions - 7th (15th)
Contested Marks - 12th (3rd)
Marks Inside 50 - 10th (2nd)
1%ers - 10th (14th)
Bounces - 7th (14th)
Stoppage Clearances - 7th (5th)
Contested Possessions - 11th (1st)
Intercepts - 11th (1st)
Goal Accuracy - 11th (14th)
Turnovers - 7th (13th)
Rebound Inside 50's - 12th (9th)

Bottom 6
Freekicks Against - 14th (11th)
Handballs - 12th (9th)
Goals - 13th (4th)
Behinds - 13th (1st)
Goal Assists 16th (11th)
Disposal Efficiency - 14th (17th)
Center Clearances - 17th (8th)
Metres Gained - 15th (1st)
Goal Effiiciency - 14th (7th)
Shot Efficiency - 15th (1st)
Shots on Goal - 14th (1st)
Score Involvements - 16th (11th)

WHERE CAN WE GET BETTER?

I think it would be fair to say that a large chunk of our prime movers are still learning a little bit about each other and you would hope that some of our marquee recruits over the last three years take another step forward in this regard. There is no doubt that all the great premiership sides play with a real team spirit that allows them to play to each others strengths and capabilities. I think our team has evolved so rapidly over the last three years, and combined with injury we really haven't been able to get our best players together for significant stretches of games. I also think the decision to bring in youth is very smart as it will allow the more mature players to settle into the team and start to build a real rapport. Crouch, Jones, Higgins, Highmore, Sharman and even Bytel can all make significant strides through just getting more games with the core group.

COACHING & DEVELOPMENT

Our game plan still seems to be evolving. This is probably the weakest aspect of my understanding of footy but I thought the game plan got exposed early in the year with two unexpectedly large losses to the Bombers and the Tigers, before an embarrassing 111 point capitulation to the highly fancied Doggies less than 8 months after we turfed them out of the 2020 finals. I think at that point the club put everything on the table for review, including the coaches and the game plan. Dialled back the run and gun at all costs midway through 2021 and worked very hard on team defence. The second Richmond game really showcasing our newfound commitment to working together defensively. Hopefully, as the team settles the game plan tweaks are reduced and we start to play with a clear and identifiable brand. Going in to his 3rd year in the system Brett Ratten (& Brendon Lade) really need to bring a winning plan immediately that allows the players to work on their roles and achieving some consistency. Expecting Corey Enright to inject a little more and hopefully Damian Carroll can assist the younger players to find their feet as quickly as possible.

It's also going to be a baptism of fire for Nick Walsh to get the boys primed and conditioned to be able to see out games from Round 1. But Saints fans bemoaned our lack of fitness leading in last year and will be expecting marked improvement in that regard. We don't really how he gets that done it just needs to be better.


INJURY & PLAYER MANAGEMENT

Only 13 players played more than 75% of the season for the Saints this year for a multitude of reasons. But we had a significant number of key players who struggled to get to the ones, let alone find form. Hunter Clark, Jack Bytel, Zak Jones, Rowan Marshall, Paddy Ryder, all had interrupted seasons and were unable to find their best form. While Jade Gresham and Ben Paton both missed the best part of the entire year.

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MIDS

Simple lets be better at the contest and in clearances.

Our contested work around the ball is still lacking, and that was before we shunted our third best player in this metric to the premiership winning side. Jack Steele, Brad Crouch and Rowan Marshall continue to lead the way in this regard, but we really need a few more to start showing more intent over the ball. Zak Jones, Jack Billings and Seb Ross are 3 older players who could do more, and we probably need Hunter Clark, Jack Bytel & Ryan Byrnes to find more of their own ball. And of course we are all looking forward to Jade Gresham's return from injury to have a big impact in this space.

Our centre clearance work has been woeful for a long while and needs to improve markedly. Patrick Ryder and Rowan Marshall staying fit would help enormously. And Brad Crouch, Zak Jones and Bytel perhaps the other three who really need to stamp their ground at centre bounce. Having first use and sending the pill inside 50 off restart is vital and the Saints shine when we can get on top in the middle.

FWDS

In a nutshell we just need to kick more goals. Achieving this may be a little bit more complicated than spiking the conversion rate, although we know that obviously helps. We badly need to boost the number of shots on goal, which is directly tied to the quality and frequency of our inside 50 entries. Again we need better connection between some of our prime ball carriers and our leading forwards.

I think our tackle pressure in the forward 50 is on point and the balance between talls and smalls is good. There is real depth especially after Cooper Sharman demonstrated what he can do late last season. While Dan Butler only needs just another half a goal a game to be amongst the best in the league, Ben Long needs to either kick more goals or create more goals otherwise he should be on the outer. Max King's organic growth is probably the most exciting thing to anticipate. Max brings real marking power to the team, and if he can get better supply and lift his goal kicking efficiency then he should easily kick 50+ in a season. If Scoops and Skunk can both find a way to play in the same side then our intent around goal will have defences scrambling to cover.

BACKS

The defensive line is fairly settled. Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie are the two pillars down back with both players engaging in one on one contests close to 70 times more than any other Saints players, and winning nearly 3 out of every 4 of those contests. Jack Sinclair had a wonderful year and ranked first in the team for intercept possessions, and I hope he continues in the same vein. Nick Coffield & Thomas Highmore are the two players who can really drive growth in the back half if they continue to track upwards.

THOUGHTS?

Anyway I'm keen to know where you think the improvement will come from and who are the key players in your minds.
 

DGontheQT

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Oct 25, 2015
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Seasons greetings, Sainters!

cec42d289cdc92c1298c6838ed10f02e.jpg



It's that time of the year again, when we're all basking in that post-draft, pre-christmas positivity. We're feeling good and we're looking great. Houses are being trained to the ground and we're unsure whether or not we should keep the F word out of our 2022 projections lest we put a pox on the club before a single ball has been handballed in anger.

But let's be honest here, the disappointment of missing out this year is well behind us and there is a growing expectation that we improve enough for another finals tilt next year. How deep into September we can go is another issue, but we just expect to be there.

If we are expecting our relative improvement to be sufficient enough for us to overcome another tough fixture and sit among the top 8 my question to you is where will that improvement come from and who is going to drive the rise?

View attachment 1300540

HOW DO WE STACK UP?

So how do our team averages stack up in various statistical categories? Below is a list statistical measures with our ranking. I have put the minor premiers - Melbourne - ranking in brackets for an easy comparison.

Top 6
Hitouts - 4th (1st)
Marks - 6th (16th)
Freekicks For - 6th (9th)
Tackles Inside 50 - 4th (1st)
Tackles - 3rd (1st)

Middle 6
Disposals - 7th (8th)
Kicks - 8th (10th)
Inside 50 - 10th (2nd)
Clangers - 12th (16th)
Uncontested Possessions - 7th (15th)
Contested Marks - 12th (3rd)
Marks Inside 50 - 10th (2nd)
1%ers - 10th (14th)
Bounces - 7th (14th)
Stoppage Clearances - 7th (5th)
Contested Possessions - 11th (1st)
Intercepts - 11th (1st)
Goal Accuracy - 11th (14th)
Turnovers - 7th (13th)
Rebound Inside 50's - 12th (9th)

Bottom 6
Freekicks Against - 14th (11th)
Handballs - 12th (9th)
Goals - 13th (4th)
Behinds - 13th (1st)
Goal Assists 16th (11th)
Disposal Efficiency - 14th (17th)
Center Clearances - 17th (8th)
Metres Gained - 15th (1st)
Goal Effiiciency - 14th (7th)
Shot Efficiency - 15th (1st)
Shots on Goal - 14th (1st)
Score Involvements - 16th (11th)

WHERE CAN WE GET BETTER?
THOUGHTS?
We have so many things to work on at St.Kilda , with the main one being fitness. Getting fitter will help with nearly every statistic , as fatigue affects our run and spread , offensively and defensively , and our disposal. A lot more repetitive and competitive match simulation is needed too , as it will help with the implementation of the gameplan and it will lesson the likelihood of the run ons against us , which happened often last year. Accelerating our player development , by whatever is needed is crucial too , from looking closely about whether the Sandy alignment can be improved upon , better and targeted skill development , and even some mental strength training for some of our shrinking violets. Let some of our younger guys on reduced workloads assist our AFLW team too. Best way to learn leadership is by doing it , not being told how to , in a classroom. We should just look at improving everything , and becoming AFL industry leaders in all we do. In recent years , The Dogs , Richmond and now Melbourne have emerged out of football obscurity to become premiership winning clubs. If we put in the hard work , why can’t we.
 

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Saintbloke

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Need the midfield to get consistency into their game, and the coaches to work on stoppages- we were really poor in that area this season. We had many games where we had an advantage, yet we allowed the opposition midfield to get on top and swing the results against us.
 

BrutThough

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Great post.

Looking at the stats you listed, I think the forward line is the area we will see the biggest improvement in. With the player we have available, it is the area with our biggest potential star power and if we want to play finals, we need those players performing a lot closer to their potential.

You'd hope our centre clearances would also improve next year, as a midfield with Steele, Crouch, Jones etc shouldn't be the the 2nd worst clearance group in the comp.
 

chris_h_11

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The 22-25 year old group will ultimately decide where we go in 2022 and beyond.

Coffield
Clark
Higgins
Paton
Battle
Gresham

These guys have all shown patches of "eliteness", or at least elite attributes. But none have been able to produce that consistently, and none of these guys had a good year in 2021 (maybe Higgins aside, he was good).

Just gotta get these guys on the park and producing good footy more often than not, and we'll be right in the mix.
 

gringo2011

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Stop going sideways???

Disposals - 7th (8th) (OK)

Metres Gained - 15th (1st) (Crap)


That seems to be Ratts thing, short passing to a lead up mark. Interesting that Melbourne's disposal efficiency is second worst in the comp. Very overrated IMO, grab it, pump it forward then defend it is Richmond as well.
 

gringo2011

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Great post.

Looking at the stats you listed, I think the forward line is the area we will see the biggest improvement in. With the player we have available, it is the area with our biggest potential star power and if we want to play finals, we need those players performing a lot closer to their potential.

You'd hope our centre clearances would also improve next year, as a midfield with Steele, Crouch, Jones etc shouldn't be the the 2nd worst clearance group in the comp.


Turn more of the behinds into goals and we instantly improve.
 

BrutThough

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Turn more of the behinds into goals and we instantly improve.
We went from 18th in goal kicking accuracy pre bye to 1st post bye. Maintain that next year, and our forward line will be dangerous (if we can get it in there)

Now that Rath and Roughy have worked their magic on King, they need to spend some time on Marshall.
 

Saintbloke

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One thing that stood out to me when watching all the teams in the finals teams this year, was that their overall disposal quality was far superior to ours- slicker by hand and foot, more accurate over longer distances, and more to players generally in a better position. We need a big emphasis on foot skills especially.
 

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CursingFijian

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Great thread mate, will post my thoughts later but I think you're on the money. For me mental toughness is one of our biggest areas of improvement.
That's an interesting comment George and I'm going to refrain from taking advantage of the magnificent opportunity to poke some fun at you here by saying something whimsical like "that would rule you out as a line coach then". Definitely won't do that.

But I am interested in 1) who you think is responsible for instilling that mental fortitude and 2) which player in particular needs to lift in that area.

My own experience is that on field confidence comes from preparation. If you've done the hard work, got enough miles into the legs, spent enough hours perfecting your technique and decision making, then you always feel like you're in the game and ready to contribute. Every now and then I have come across an opponent who I just know is next level better than me and then it becomes about limiting their impact.
 
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CursingFijian

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That seems to be Ratts thing, short passing to a lead up mark. Interesting that Melbourne's disposal efficiency is second worst in the comp. Very overrated IMO, grab it, pump it forward then defend it is Richmond as well.
Melbournes goal accuracy was worse than ours. They were however ranked first for shots on goal. My take is the need to increase goal kicking opportunities is more urgent that goal kicking accuracy. And I think is more a midfield issue than a forward one. We need Steele-Crouch-Jones-Clark-Bytel to become a powerhouse unit.
 

George

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That's an interesting comment George and I'm going to refrain from taking advantage of the magnificent opportunity to poke some fun at you here by saying something whimsical like "that would rule you out as a line coach then". Definitely won't do that.

But I am interested in 1) who you think is responsible for instilling that mental fortitude and 2) which player in particular needs to lift in that area.

My own experience is that on field confidence comes from preparation. If you've done the hard work, got enough miles into the legs, spent enough hours perfecting your technique and decision making, then you always feel like you're in the game and ready to contribute. Every now and then I have come across an opponent who I just know is next level better than me and then it becomes about limiting their impact.
I think our resilience when challenged is really poor, so I guess it's a whole of team thing. I guess it does have a bit to do with preparation but it seems like when things get too hard for us we drop our bundle, and that's been a theme for a few years now.
 

gringo2011

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One thing that stood out to me when watching all the teams in the finals teams this year, was that their overall disposal quality was far superior to ours- slicker by hand and foot, more accurate over longer distances, and more to players generally in a better position. We need a big emphasis on foot skills especially.


I disagree, I don't think that is us any more, we are usually quite clean under Ratts except for the second half of this season. Most sides that won through to late finals were messy. Melbourne are a scrappy side. Richmond are a messy side and won three premierships off the back of not playing clean footy. Moving the ball faster is more important than moving it super clean and slow. West Coast would be the only side to win a premiership off the back of clean ball use since the Hawks. The Cats have changed up to a clean keepings off side and fall over in finals when they face fast contested sides.
 

gringo2011

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Melbournes goal accuracy was worse than ours. They were however ranked first for shots on goal. My take is the need to increase goal kicking opportunities is more urgent that goal kicking accuracy. And I think is more a midfield issue than a forward one. We need Steele-Crouch-Jones-Clark-Bytel to become a powerhouse unit.


Guys like Petracca and Oliver just keep pumping the ball in to their 50. Then defend with guys like Pickett and Jackson who is surprisingly mobile for his size.
 

gringo2011

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I think our resilience when challenged is really poor, so I guess it's a whole of team thing. I guess it does have a bit to do with preparation but it seems like when things get too hard for us we drop our bundle, and that's been a theme for a few years now.


We really only have Steele that has that ability to step up when things get hot in the kitchen. Most seem to go into their shells when challenged. Somehow Billings who won games off his own boot early on became a eunuch under Richo. Gresh should help. He is a match winner, we just have to hope he stays fit this time.
 

gringo2011

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Who are the culprits pebbles? Is this a coaching issue or a player issue in your opinion?


Ratts. Dunny supposedly wasn't following team rules when he was pumping the ball inside 50 straight out of the centre. We might actually go back to Ratts keeping off style once we get Paton back off the HBF. He was a bit of an architect of the slow build off HB before injury.
 

Remboy

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Melbournes goal accuracy was worse than ours. They were however ranked first for shots on goal. My take is the need to increase goal kicking opportunities is more urgent that goal kicking accuracy. And I think is more a midfield issue than a forward one. We need Steele-Crouch-Jones-Clark-Bytel to become a powerhouse unit.
I think our midfield will automatically improve if we have at least one of Marshall and Ryder playing each week, and hopefully both more often than not.
 

Ads734

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I think these are some basics we need to challenge top 4 . At least 3/4 guys in all aus 40 at least 2/3 guys make the team.


I think these guys realistically could make it if we finnish top 4/5

Defenders - Highmore(don’t ask me why but im super high on him. He got so much better as the year progressed. Havnt had that level of toughness/intercept marking since Cripps Fisher. He’s also super mature.

Wilkie - speaks for itself


Mids
- I think two of

Clark, Jones, crouch need to become top 20 mids in the comp. I think Jones specifically is the one. When he’s on we’re on. His consistency has been a big issue tho. He also adds something that trans like the Dogs, Deez have that real burst out the midfield. Clark I think needs to average 25 midfield and we become an instantly better team.


Fwd
King is the obvious one I’d love to see him too 5 for contested marks and kick 50 goals.

In addition. I really think Owens if he gets a go could really add some tenacity to us. That is the first thing I thought of when watching him. A little like Archie Perkins, but if strength and swaggerX
 

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