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Coach not to blame, say Demons players


Michael Gleeson and Jon Pierik

Nathan Jones says the game plan is different but not difficult to grasp, the issue is simply that players are not yet playing it instinctively.

Nathan Jones says the game plan is different but not difficult to grasp, the issue is simply that players are not yet playing it instinctively. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

MELBOURNE'S leaders are bewildered by the stinging criticism directed towards their coach, saying an inexplicable lack of effort and not the coach or his game plan has been to blame for the winless start to the season.

Nathan Jones said yesterday the external image of Mark Neeld as a tough coach who had come in too aggressively and lost his players ''could not be further from the truth''.

''He definitely came in and set standards, but he has come from a successful club and has seen where we were and where Collingwood were,'' he said.

''And it is the same as Craigy [Neil Craig], [and other assistant coaches] Jade Rawlings and Leigh Brown, they have come from clubs that are successful and they saw, as an entire footy club across the board, that we needed to lift our performance. Before we even played footy we needed to lift our performance in training and recovery and all those things.

''Neeldy was staunch on the areas we had to lift our game in for us to start to grow. So Neeldy from the day he came in it was 'this is how it is going to be, these are the expectations and standards we want to reach'.

''He could not be any more open and encouraging. He is open to giving feedback no matter who it is and how you are going, but there are also non-negotiables. And the perception that is out there at the moment could not be further from the truth. He has just set a standard and it is an elite standard that we want to get to. We want to be a club that plays finals footy.''

Jones said the game plan was different but not difficult to grasp, the issue was simply that players were not yet playing it instinctively.

He and club co-captain Jack Grimes yesterday fielded questions as the Demons endured more scrutiny after their miserable winless start to the season, in which they have lost games by an average 57-point margin.

Champion Data statistics highlight the Demons' troubles on game day. They allow the opposition to hit a target 76 per cent of the time - the highest of any side. They concede an average of 64 inside-50s and 17 goals a match - the most of any side. The Demons average 303 disposals a match - the lowest of any side - and average 98 fewer disposals, 19 fewer marks and 25 fewer inside-50s a match compared with their opposition.

The Demons average just nine goals a match - ranked 17th and only in front of Greater Western Sydney - and average eight marks a match inside-50 - the equal-worst in the competition.

''We have a few guys that haven't been playing as well as they have in the past. A few guys are adjusting to different roles and that sort of thing,'' Grimes said.

''We are trying to help guys through it. Guys like Aaron [Davey], who is playing a bit of a different role to what he was last year. We will help him through that.''

Grimes said the Demons had spoken to the enigmatic Colin Sylvia about his jovial on-field behaviour after the 101-point thrashing by Sydney last Saturday.

''I think Colin was pretty disappointed with the way that came across. It didn't look great after a big loss like that,'' he said.

Grimes dismissed suggestions he and co-captain Jack Trengove were too young to be in leadership roles.

''It's been tough, but it's not just because Jack and I have a 'c' next to our name. It's been tough because we are none and eight.''


  • Of course the players will say those things. Does anyone really think the players will turn around and say "you know what...the coach is hopeless". They know it would be the last thing they did in footy.

    But it is the coach who is responsible for on-field performance. He must take full responsibility for their lack of success and he must unite and harness the players and turn it around. At least get the players to put in the effort. I'm sure Neeld didn't tell the board at his job interview "we'll be zero and eleven at the half way mark...but you'll need to have some patience and don't blame me"

    And why would anyone think Neil Craig can coach? Five minutes after he left the Crows they become world beaters. Not sure he is the right one to be Neeld's mentor.

    Date and time
    May 23, 2012, 8:16AM
    • Like every Melbourne member or supporter, my mind is full of doubts and questions. The reality is though, that we do not, and cannot, know the full story 0 the behind closed doors story - about what is really going on at the club. we have to take people of trust - the president, the board, the players and the coaches. I hope Mark Neeld suceeds because if he does, then team will succeed. However I do wish the game plan was: First, get the ball which will give you control of the game, second, kick the ball through the goals, then worry about the defensive aspects. Despite all the science and Champion Data, it's a very simple game to play!

      Tassie Dee
      Date and time
      May 23, 2012, 10:05AM
      • Melbourne refuse to accept the fact that Neeld is probably the wrong coach for Melbourne at this point in time. He has totally over estimated the current list and his game plan is a shambles. The club was split last year when Bailey got the heave ho and nothing has changed this season.Not coincidental that Dean Bailey went to Adelaide and look how they are going whilst Melbourne decided to hire Neil Craig. Now they are rumoured to be chasing Cloke? Why would Cloke want to get involved with such a dysfunctional club?
        Last season Melbourne were about to get rid of a few committee people. One bad game and they survived whilst the coach was executed. Start again dees and get rid of the poison element in your club.

        Date and time
        May 23, 2012, 10:54AM
        • under bailey they were winning games with these players, now if there is a mass exodus of players, whether sacked or leave, where does that leave melbourne?? there are 17 other clubs looking for young talent in the draft, free agency, well players on the move will be looking for a successful club, so why would they choose melbourne?? that means discards from other clubs and thats not going to get melbourne far, all because of an inexperience coach........WOW what a mess

          Date and time
          May 23, 2012, 12:18PM
          • Gee...once we string a few wins together everyone will sing a different tune...i can recall WCE being champions then the days of cellar dwellers, the drugs culture etc etc...wosher's walking a high look at them...The supporters and critics seem to forget that Neil Craig as assistant to Malcom engineered the science of fitness that propelled the Crows to 2 premierships from a lowly position, and yes i would have preferred an experienced coach, last year Neeld was seen as one of the leading assistants in the AFL.
            The standards at Demon land have been below the ever rising standards of the "top" teams for a long time, of course its going to take time...even the Saints with high draft picks took about 4 ys to get it together before they started to move up the ladder after appointing a highly rated assistant from Sydney.
            It was reported in several news papers in this city at the end of past year the the Dees had put together one of the best off field group of assistants and staff at any club, that Gary Lyon can take some credit for, im very confident in the not to distant future we will be singing a different tune, i can see a turn around in the second half and with some already reported aggressive recruiting from Demon land mixed with some top talent just waiting to click, game plans and standards reached a new look MFC will emerge big strong and bold.

            Demon eyes
            Date and time
            May 23, 2012, 12:21PM
            • I am a Swans supporter and watched the game against Melbourne with relish. The Swans started hard. However, a lot of the game was played by them in 3rd gear. How many marks did you see that were uncontested? There was one taken by Josh Kennedy 40 metres from goal where the only Melbourne player who even went near him was Aaron Davey and he just stood and watched. Then there was the goal kicked by Mattner. It looked like an elementary training drill. Honestly, with a couple of exceptions, Melbourne made it easy. If they had the enthusiasm of GWS, they would be killing it.

              Date and time
              May 23, 2012, 12:36PM
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