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Blues fans can dare to dream of a flag

Date

Carlton has flown under the radar but the top four – and even a flag – is now possible.

The Blues sit six and four after the first 10 rounds. That's exactly the situation they were in 12 months ago. Back then it was "top four or bust", and bust they did. This year, they say there are "no limits".

A win over Essendon on Friday will have Carlton supporters starting to dream big time. The Eagles, Crows and Magpies are not firing and if the Bombers lose, that will be four losses in five games and the downward late-season spiral that we have seen in recent years will be a reality again. The Blues faithful will be saying: “Forget the eight, start focusing on the four.”

The Blues, having lost their first three games, have been happy to fly under the radar. The attention on Essendon, Melbourne, Buddy, Vossy and Eddie has meant little credit and attention has been given to their six wins in the past seven games. It would have been a clean sweep of seven but for the stupidity of Jarrad Waite getting himself suspended. And they have done this without the input of two of their most important players, Andrew Carrazzo and Eddie Betts.

Mick Malthouse will still be working out the strengths and weaknesses of his new team but one thing he has them doing is getting in hard, fast and first to win the contested ball. They have smashed the opposition in this area, up by an average of 25 in each of the past six weeks.

The Blues are also defending much better than they did in the first month of the season. In the past five weeks, they have conceded the fewest inside 50s.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that the team's better defensive efforts began when new skipper Marc Murphy was criticised for a lack of defensive accountability.

Two players the Bombers will have to contain are Andrew Walker and Jeff Garlett. Both have been in red-hot form at opposite ends of the ground. After a couple of seasons up forward, Walker is relishing being back in defence. Bouncing off the half-back line, he just keeps on getting the ball.

With his dash and penetrating kicks, he makes attacking 80-metre plays. Walker is second only to Murphy for disposals at Carlton. Few defenders could boast that. Garlett, in the absence of Betts, has stepped up. Last year he kicked 29 goals. Already he leads the way this season with 27 majors and plenty of assists. Throw Betts back in alongside Garlett, Chris Yarran and Dennis Armfield and you have the slickest small-forward set-up in the AFL. Garlett also leads the way with tackles. He has laid 42 and Yarran 28. Brock McLean, who is playing predominantly midfield/forward, has also put on 28 bone-crunchers.

What the Blues desperately need to complete the scoring mix is for Waite to be disciplined and in good form up forward. The little fellows will play their part but in big games, big forwards are needed to step up. Waite is the key.

He is capable of taking 10 marks and kicking five goals. Levi Casboult is worth persevering with too, if only because he can take a contested pack mark. I think he will be a better player than Shaun Hampson, as long as he is given games to develop. Last year, the Blues averaged 94 points per game. This year it's up to 105.

A trend in today's football with the better sides is to develop versatility among the playing group.

Malthouse is doing this with Carlton. Yarran, Walker, Bryce Gibbs and Lachie Henderson can swing to either end of the ground.

Midfielders in Murphy, McLean and Chris Judd are spending more time forward, while Kade Simpson and Heath Scotland are working midfield/back. Apart from rucking, Matthew Kreuzer has played key forward and key defence and, in the absence of Carrazzo, Ed Curnow and Jaryd Cachia have been given the "run with" roles. Out of favour, and out of the back line, are Nick Duigan and Jeremy Laidler. You couldn't fault their competitiveness but their speed and skill is questionable. So taller, quicker types in Simon White and Josh Bootsma have been rightly preferred.

You sense the Carlton players are now playing with real resolve. Is it a new coach, a chance to regain last year's lost credibility or a realisation that time is running out for Judd, Waite, Scotland, Carrazzo and Simpson? The Blues hierarchy have said there are "no limits" to 2013. A win over Essendon and Hawthorn next week would give Blues supporters a week off with the bye, and a lot of time to dream.

Could a 17th premiership be a possibility? You never know. The footy gods are smiling. Two months ago eight teams stood between Carlton and the cup. Now, it's just four: Fremantle, Sydney, Geelong and Hawthorn.

105 comments

  • Oh Wallsy you certainly are a dreamer. Who have Carlton beaten this year? And now you are going on about a 17th flag, when were you heading OS? Goodbye and Good Riddance.

    Commenter
    Go Dons
    Location
    Wodonga
    Date and time
    June 06, 2013, 6:02PM
    • wallsy - on the wagon or off the wagon?

      Not a dons fan, but please smash em

      Commenter
      ash
      Location
      prahran
      Date and time
      June 06, 2013, 6:43PM
    • Didn't Wallsie also say he's cancelling his Blues membership after they sacked Ratten & all his assistants & replaced him with Malthouse & his crew? I think he said something along the lines of "they've got all this money to pay everyone out, they don't need my money!"
      They've got a tough month ahead so let's see if he's still on the bandwagon come July.
      Also, if Waite can be fined $10,000 by the club for being suspended, then I assume Eddie Betts got fined $30,000?

      Commenter
      Moe
      Date and time
      June 06, 2013, 9:04PM
    • I think the top 4 is now set. Geelong hawthorn sydney and fremantle are all easily a class above the rest of the competition. The rest of the comp are also rans.

      Commenter
      Barney
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 7:55AM
    • Nothing wrong with dreaming.

      I'm daring to dream one of the 4 builders I called 2 weeks ago may call me back at some point...Fingers crossed.

      Though I like my chances better than the Blues (however remote they are).

      Go Cats - 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 9:24AM
    • Take it with a grain of salt people, have you seen where Wallsy is in the experts tipping competition? Last......, well, to be totally honest second last, The Village idiot is in last place!!!!!

      Commenter
      SNDON
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 11:07AM
    • Really quie a ridiculous article by an annoying ex kindergarden teacher.

      Like what hope have Carlton got of beating the top teams? They are bereft of classic tall forwards and tall backs fundamental to any premiership team. There reliance on a brigade of smalls that consistently "go missing" when the blow torch is applied is unhealthy in the extreme.

      It will take some form of cheating of John Elliot proportions for things to change. Carlton would need a Prattesque type ignoring of the rules for them to achieve an outcome that Walls suggests.

      But hey - we are talking about Carlton

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 11:17AM
    • Notice Walls failed to mention those wins were over GWS, Port, Bris (just), Melb,
      Flag?? Keep dreaming Wallsy!!!
      Love that the last paragraph doesnt include Essendon.
      Tonights win must be in the bag!

      Commenter
      2Boards
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 11:53AM
    • Don't think Wallsy has gone far enough - it's time Carlton started talking back to back flags. No reason an average backline and almost non-existent forward line (certainly no quality talls) should hold them back. And to think, I used to respect Robert Walls' views...

      Commenter
      SteveR
      Location
      McKinnon, Vic
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 12:21PM
    • Wallsy thinks Carlton has flown under the radar but the top four – and even a flag – is now possible.

      Wallsy you're "dreamin"
      1. Either you were up in QLD to long and the hot sun up there has killed most of your brain cells. 2. In this late stage of life you've taken up smoking pot.
      3. You're suffering from delusions.

      Commenter
      Bushy
      Location
      Cressy
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 1:00PM

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