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Dees need to show they are on right track


Robert Walls

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THERE'S a chance Melbourne will be winless when it reaches round 12 and has its bye, as not much has gone right for this club since it overreacted and sacked coach Dean Bailey after round 17 last year.

As such, there's a stack of questions to be asked of the Demons.

■ Are the players who played under the old coach being confused by the demands of the new?

Hard yards: Melbourne's Matthew Bate, Mark Jamar, Jack Watts, Brent Moloney and Jack Trengove during training yesterday.

Hard yards: Melbourne's Matthew Bate, Mark Jamar, Jack Watts, Brent Moloney and Jack Trengove during training yesterday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

■ Are they shaken by the off-field issues that have affected Liam Jurrah and Aaron Davey?

■ Are they still grieving the loss of club legend Jim Stynes?

■ Are they befuddled that loyal veteran Brad Green was dumped as captain and the two young men who replaced him, Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes, started last week's game against Geelong on the bench?

■ Are the players angry the club couldn't persuade Tom Scully to stay?

■ Are they miffed that Mitch Clark, who is no better than a good, ordinary player, walks in on superstar money?

■ Are they embarrassed that their major sponsor was a dill and had to be replaced?

■Do they look at Nic Naitanui and think of what could have been?

■ Do the players get exposed enough to former Adelaide coach Neil Craig? We never see or hear from him, unlike Rodney Eade at Collingwood and Mark Thompson at Essendon.

So, where do you start with the Dees? Since Bailey was sacked, the team has won once in 11 outings. Just what was expected of Bailey? In his four years, the success rate went from 14 per cent to 18 per cent to 39 per cent to 44 per cent. Weren't they on track? Don't forget that it took Thompson eight years to land his first flag with Geelong.

Bailey evidently didn't hit it off with chief executive Cameron Schwab and football general manager Chris Connolly. But those who have power at the club chose to keep the ''old boys'' and cut a coach who, with his experience at Essendon and Port Adelaide, knew what premierships were about.

Bailey's teams played with a certain amount of flair. When on their game, they were good to watch. Slowly, Bailey was building the required defensive strengths.

Under new coach Mark Neeld, Melbourne uses the boundary 67 per cent of the time when coming out of defence - the highest percentage of any team.

In Collingwood's 2010 premiership season, Melbourne played the Pies twice, for a draw and a one-point loss - good signs. The players enjoyed being encouraged to play attacking, possession-based football. Last year, the Demons averaged 89 points a game, and conceded 105. This year, the averages are 70 and 118. In effect, they are five goals a game worse.

Neeld has to be given some time. He has no doubt brought Collingwood's premiership game plan with him. But that doesn't mean much. You have to cut your coat according to your cloth. The best game plan in the world may work with one group of players, but not with another.

The Demons don't have the size, strength or fitness base of the Magpies. Their midfield doesn't run as deep, and they don't have two power forwards, or the experienced, versatile defence. So Neeld has to be careful he doesn't insist on a brand of football the Demons can't deliver.

The game is constantly changing. The successful Collingwood forward press of 2010 doesn't stand up as it once did. Teams such as Carlton, Essendon, West Coast and Hawthorn are using lots of short kicks and uncontested marks to beat the press. Melbourne sits 18th in these areas. There isn't enough run and spread and boldness in the Demons' play.

The one area the Demons dominate is hitouts. But they aren't taking advantage, as they are 13th in clearances.

Against the Hawks tonight, it will be tough.

It would be good to see the Demons play with more boldness. Mark Jamar will dominate the hitouts, so use that to advantage. Have Brent Moloney, Nathan Jones and Trengove be on the fly at stoppages to create effective breaks. Use each other more with handball and short kicks to encourage players to spread far and wide.

This should help the team kick more than the average 10 goals per game and give the fans something to get excited about when they leave the MCG.

28 comments so far

  • Well Said... What does Neeld think he's doing...copying Malthouse's game plan for another time and another place. Total lack of vision and adaptability in my opinion, and throwing Trengove to the wolves at 20 and selecting Grimes as Captain when he hasn't even completed a whole season.... then putting them both on the bench for the opening of a game... it beggars belief!!

    hard edge
    th boundary
    Date and time
    May 11, 2012, 8:09AM
    • As a demon supporter I think that comment about Mitch Clark is a little harsh he had 21 touches and 4 goals last week and attack on the footy during the year can not be questioned, every one was skeptical about the salary and ability to match it but I think he is well on the way to silencing the critics.

      Iron Man
      Date and time
      May 11, 2012, 8:14AM
      • Iron Man, try reading Wallsy's comment properly. He called him good, ordinary player on too much money. That sums it up pretty well I think. No one is questioning his attack on the footy or calling him a hack.
        You honestly feel he is well on the way to to justify a 900k salary? Even he was so shocked to be offered it, he did a huge back flip on wanting to go home to WA. The Demons are a basket case, always have been. Unlucky for you, the Hawks members didn't want to merge...

        The Kid
        Date and time
        May 11, 2012, 8:34AM
        • The Kid, it is just my opinion but I believe Mitch to be better then a good ordinary player, I did read the comment hence my urge to right a comment, I think Mitch is a very good player and well worth the just over 2.2 million dollars over a 4 year period which equates to approx. 600K a year not the 900K you are specifying, On the Hawks subject which I don't understand the relativeness to the subject 2004 the Hawks finished 15th with 4 wins and 2005 14th with 5 wins in both those years Melbourne played finals, my point being that everyone has there go of tough times, the Hawks are a great side with a great coach they turned it around and hopefully the dess can do the same

          Iron Man
          Date and time
          May 11, 2012, 9:33AM
        • I agree with Iron Man.
          Mitch Clark's efforts to date have been fantastic.
          Also, the money he is paid is inflated because it costs more to bring talent in from outside.
          If I was a Demon supporter I'd be pretty happy with his output so far.

          Date and time
          May 11, 2012, 11:17AM
      • Always is an interesting word. It means forever, without exception, all the time. It is increasingly used by people who have no knowledge of history and who often don't think before they speak. "The Kid" who commented above is one such person. He claims that the Demons have "always" been a basket case. Obviously he doesn't know about the 1950s and 1960s. For example, in the late 1950s the Demons won five premierships in six years. Has the team supported by The Kid done that? Sure, the Dees aren't travelling well at the moment, but anyone with a real knowledge of football knows that the wheel turns, albeit slowly sometimes. But as Mick Malthouse once said, the ox is slow, but the Earth is patient. i think it is time everyone calmed down a little and let the Dees get on with it. Having said that, the article by Robert walls is good but he needs to look at Mitch Clark's performances so far this year. He will find he is performing better than a lot of other so-called class forwards. Certainly beter than the one who replaced him at Brisbane.

        Tassie Dee
        Date and time
        May 11, 2012, 9:35AM
        • News Flash for you Tassie Dee...its 2012. You're a very patient man if you are still waiting for the Dee's second wind from their 1950's success.

          Oh well...if you still have the core playing group from that ever you never know!

          Date and time
          May 11, 2012, 11:04AM
      • It certainly does seem that the decision to sack Bailey was political, not professional. He had the players on his side and as your win % improvement shows the team was heading in the right direction.

        Last week there was the excellent article on the sacking last year and it gave a great insight into the backroom backstabbing that went on prior to the fateful Geelong game.

        Bailey must have felt like a man walking the plank driving down to Kardinia Park, and his players responded accordingly. Bad karma has bitten the Dees well and truly as a result of this political sacking.

        Date and time
        May 11, 2012, 9:46AM
        • Frankly the likes of the Demons and Nth Melbourne should have been forced to relocate. There is a measly 10 million total people (including women, babies, middle-aged and old people, physically inept people, etc) now supplying 18 teams. This reduces the competition to the point that we now have 3 total dud games a week (GC, GWS, and Melbourne). A neutral might only have 3 or 4 matches, tops, to look forward to a weekend. If we reduced number of teams to 14 (or 16 as an absolute maximum), the quality would be so much more. Imagine all the GWS and GC young players mixed in with the remaining 14 or 16 teams - now that would give us a *full weekend* of top quality matches! Instead we must watch Premier League or Champions League soccer to see top quality sport (Champions league: where total of 1.5 billion people supply 32 teams - you do the "quality of competition" math compared to AFL).

          Robert J
          Date and time
          May 11, 2012, 10:32AM
          • RobertJ

            How is relocating going to help? We are the oldest club in the country, inextricably linked to Melbourne and the MCG. Do you think the Canberra Demons might make us better?

            There have always been dud games - at various times in the past 100+ years almost every club has been in the doldrums for a sustained period of time. There'd be no-one left if we got rid of a club every time it's struggling to win a game!

            If you think we've got too many teams, then perhaps you should volunteer your club to fold? Because we're not going anywhere.

            Old Dee
            Date and time
            May 11, 2012, 11:44AM

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