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Collingwood's conundrum: Time's in short supply if you are a Magpie

The path to the finals.

The path to the finals.

Collingwood is always a victim of bloated expectations. A football club with a massive membership, huge following and the game’s most outspoken president guarantees headlines whether it’s performing or not.

Right now, those headlines scream “crisis”. The Magpies’ loss to Adelaide on Sunday was their fifth in the past six games, tipping them out of the eight for the first time since round four and in danger of missing finals for the first time since 2005.

It’s unaccustomed territory for this proud club and predictably, the fingers are being pointed everywhere, most popularly at coach Nathan Buckley and list management and recruiting decisions made over the past couple of years.

Magpies players walk off after their defeat.

Magpies players walk off after their defeat. Photo: Getty Images

You can understand the angst. This, after all, is a team that still less than three years ago was playing off for a 16th premiership, having won 14 games in a row in 2011 and 20 of 21 leading up to the final home-and-away game of the season.

Superficially, that seems a dramatic fall from grace indeed. But the Collingwood of 2014 isn’t a pale imitation of its former self. It’s a completely different product, and a good example of how quickly the AFL wheel now turns.

Run through that 2011 grand final team and you might be surprised just how profoundly. Just 10 of the 22 who played off against Geelong remain on the books. And just six of those were fronting up against Adelaide on Sunday.

Scott Pendlebury addresses his young charges.

Scott Pendlebury addresses his young charges. Photo: Getty Images

Indeed, Collingwood hasn’t fielded many less experienced sides in its modern history than that which took the field against the Crows. No fewer than 10 players for the Pies still have less than 50 senior games to their names.

That’s more than even the Western Bulldogs, a team viewed as a classic example of a side rebuilding upon youth, played in their last game against Essendon.

The difference is all in perception. The Bulldogs are a far lower profile club that can go about such a mission with relative immunity from the various stumbles and pitfalls along the way. When Collingwood cops a whack on-field, the entire football world is watching, scrutinising, and often rejoicing in its demise.

2010 is a long time ago for the Magpies.

2010 is a long time ago for the Magpies. Photo: Wayne Taylor

That doesn’t mean Buckley shouldn’t be immune from criticism, mind you. Some good judges on Sunday questioned, for example, his use of tagger Brent Macaffer on Rory Sloane rather than Patrick Dangerfield, a bigger danger to the Pies.

Scott Pendlebury’s use on a wing or forward at stages raised some eyebrows, as did that of Travis Cloke further away from goal, where his disposal efficiency is poor, despite Ben Reid struggling in his comeback game. But Collingwood’s structural issues are greater than some puzzling positional tinkering.

All season, there’s been far too big a reliance upon Cloke and ground-level goal sneak Jamie Elliott for scoring power, Jesse White having failed to deliver the support needed, and trailing off badly in games, kicking just two of his 15 goals for the season after half-time.

Collingwood’s defence, popularly viewed pre-season as its biggest Achilles heel, stood up manfully early thanks to the revelations that were Jack Frost and Tom Langdon, but has clearly buckled under the strain, the mid-season injury to then retirement of Nick Maxwell leaving it without proper organisation.

That in turn has placed greater pressure on the Magpies’ midfielders to lend more weight defensively, and even in Collingwood’s peak years of 2010-11, their much-feted midfield group wasn’t noted for its capacity to work back nearly as hard as it liked to run forward.

What back then seemed like the competition’s best midfield group now doesn’t bat nearly deep enough, and the absence of Dane Swan and Luke Ball through injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The recurrent theme when you look through those from Collingwood’s grand final side now gone are that the qualities they brought to the side haven’t been adequately replaced.

Leon Davis and Ben Johnson offered not only experience but tremendous rebound out of defence. Dale Thomas then was rated close to the best midfielder in the game, and Sharrod Wellingham was surrounded by enough talent to consistently get under opponents’ guards.

In the ruck, Darren Jolly was at the top of his game and had important mobile support from Leigh Brown. And up forward, the smarts of Andrew Krakouer and Alan Didak and work rate of Chris Dawes gave Collingwood’s attack the sort of balance it so palpably lacks now.

Most of those names were also cool-headed, efficient users of the football. Their loss and replacement by rawer kids still coming to grips with the pressure of AFL level has ensured that Collingwood’s skill level has declined markedly to the point it’s become a continual bugbear.

You’d expect that to improve over time. Tim Broomhead, for example, looks a very classy player, Paul Seedsman has already shown in patches his link-up ability, Taylor Adams arrived from GWS very highly rated, and for young ruckmen, Jarrod Witts and Brodie Grundy have both showed they have decent futures.

But will they be given the leeway to develop with the odd glitch along the way? That’s always the fundamental issue for Collingwood.

Because while the Magpies, who have won just three of nine games this season against top eight sides, now have the profile of a team sitting about where logic dictates they should be on the ladder, the profile of the club dictates that that position is never enough.

47 comments so far

  • If my memory is correct Magpies have three times in 2014 clawed its way to lead in Q4 then instead of burying the opposition as would have happened in 2010 they have given up the lead Those 3 losses say a lot and had they been wins would have Pies solidly entrenched in the finals mix!!!

    Commenter
    Joseph W
    Location
    Phnom Penh Cambodia
    Date and time
    July 28, 2014, 12:46PM
    • Vale, McCryer, FIGJAM and Collingwood!

      Commenter
      Funeral
      Location
      Procession
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 1:08PM
    • I thought that it was more Adelaide's poor kicking and ridiculous over-use of handball that kept Collingwood in the game. Only when they under the pump did the Crows go more direct with precision kicks and scored more heavily as a consequence. If the Crows had played really well it should have been +10 goal rout.

      Commenter
      Porkies
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 5:32PM
  • McSreamer will blame Sydney for being in this situation. FIGJAM is coaching as he played. I am not going to suggest where the problems lie, and where improvement can be made. I am enjoying the fruits of the sown seeds.
    The truth has a way of being revealed. Show care on the rise, as you will be remembered on the fall!

    Commenter
    Niloc
    Location
    Vietnam
    Date and time
    July 28, 2014, 1:05PM
    • oh well at least we are still in Melbourne, unlike the swans, sorry bloods... What are you calling yourselves this week?

      Commenter
      Jim
      Location
      Preston
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 3:15PM
    • no he isn't , he played successfully, that aside,
      reflect for a moment about someone who may have 7 b & f's, 7 all Australians, a norm smith,a brownlow etc etc.
      and someone who sits in an office? waiting to have a dig at the pies, hmmm

      Commenter
      Jenny
      Location
      Mordialloc
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 3:28PM
    • You are on the same page as Niloc, Jenny. He played for individual acknowledgement, not team success. Hence the title; FIGJAM. Congratulations with your perception.

      Commenter
      On the money
      Location
      Honey
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 4:32PM
  • Can someone explain the rationale for getting rid of Malthouse and installing Buckley to me, again?

    Commenter
    Jace
    Date and time
    July 28, 2014, 1:13PM
    • Go ask McGenious McMouth!

      Commenter
      No
      Location
      Brainer
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 1:25PM
    • I couldn't agree more, Jace. Why has there been a rebuild when only 3 - 4 years ago the pies were in two grand finals with one of the youngest lists in the comp. Surely when Malthouse refused to be director of coaching, it would have been more sensible to let him coach until the end of 2013 season and make Buckley wait as Mick had recent success. Instead, everything was geared towards Buckley who was unproven. Buckley has ripped the heart out of this club and doesn't understand it takes different personalities, both good and bad, to make a successful team. Pies no longer stand for anything.

      Commenter
      Mr Taff
      Date and time
      July 28, 2014, 1:40PM

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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127 vs WBU 57 13:10AS
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 15:20SS
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81 vs CAR 121 11:10NZ
ESS 49 vs COL 69 14:40MCG
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 17:40SO
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 19:40Adelaide Oval
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 20:45Domain Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65 vs WCE 118 13:10G
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 15:20SS
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45 vs COL 120 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76 vs GEE 85 13:45MCG
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 14:10SCG
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 16:35MS
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 19:20ES
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50 vs FRE 118 13:10MCG
STK 80 vs ESS 82 15:20ES
ADE 78 vs PTA 91 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
WBU vs STK 14:10ES
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
BRI vs PTA 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs WCE 13:45ES
GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs COL 16:35MS
HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 5 5 0 0 151.10 20
Collingwood 5 4 1 0 147.53 16
Western Bulldogs 5 4 1 0 104.75 16
Hawthorn 5 3 2 0 149.86 12
West Coast Eagles 5 3 2 0 145.92 12
Sydney Swans 5 3 2 0 118.26 12
Adelaide Crows 5 3 2 0 111.40 12
GWS Giants 5 3 2 0 102.87 12
View all
 
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