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Dees now more the team of Neeld's making

Date

An overhaul has injected new talent and hope.

Melbourne coach Mark Neeld admitted the list changes were significant but not radical.

Melbourne coach Mark Neeld admitted the list changes were significant but not radical. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

MELBOURNE crashed this year, but Mark Neeld remains intent to crash through.

Twelve months ago, Neeld got a job and a mandate for change. A year and one dispiritingly poor season later, the resolve now is not just to change but to up-end.

Plainly, when the regime of Neeld, Neil Craig and the phalanx of new coaches arrived, they came with the view that the depth of change needed at the club was profound, but was also limited by time.

Last year, the list changes were kept to a minimum, with four senior players traded or cut. The playing list was, in large part, given the time and opportunity to embrace the new coach's philosophies, which were emphatically pressed home on the group. The overhaul of the leadership then was the most symbolic and tangible change of direction and era.

In November last year, the coach did a range of interviews, presenting reasonable yet firm warnings to his team.

"All players need to know if you drop off a work ethic or a certain aspect of your game, you need to know how that looks and that looks like playing VFL footy," he said in one of many similar declarations at the time that players had a simple choice at the club — follow or leave.

A year on and many have left — 14 in fact — traded or told to go.

Melbourne was the most active club in trade time. It moved five players to other clubs and brought four more in from rivals. Had the Demons been able to what they wanted, they would also have secured the contracted Farren Ray from St Kilda, beaten West Coast to Sharrod Wellingham and bagged one or two more low-end players.

The day after the free agency and trade period ended, they jettisoned eight more players. Admittedly, among that final figure of 14 there were three rookies and Liam Jurrah, whom the club did not want to lose but who presently has more complicated and compelling legal and family issues at play.

Among the departures were four players who had been first-round draft picks at the club, three of them taken in the past five years.

Matthew Bate leaves after eight years and 102 games. He had been given time enough and his departure should not surprise.

Cale Morton had proven such a disappointment that he was ushered out for a draft pick that will probably not be used (88) and with Melbourne paying some of his wage next year.

Lucas Cook — pick 12 two years ago — might just have been a poor choice at such a low draft pick, while Jordan Gysberts (pick 11 in 2009) was more reluctantly lost. He was part of a trade for Cameron Pedersen, a player the club figured it needed more than Gysberts. In short, to get something they had to give something.

Melbourne next year will be very much more the team of Neeld's making. It will be his team.

Neeld admitted the changes were significant but not radical.

"If you look a the majority of other clubs in terms of the numbers of changes that you make, that is not unusual," he said of the five players going out and four coming in and ahead of the club culling a further eight from its list. "We are looking at it over a period of a month — the net effect on our list — and we always said we would look at all three avenues: free agency, the trade period and now the draft. And we have some exciting kids that we have already locked away in Jack Viney, pick four, Jesse Hogan and Dom Barry."

List manager Tim Harrington admitted the changes to the playing list were partly for cultural reasons as well as for talent or need.

"Following on from the change of staff last year, it [the change] is a lot to do with what the new regime and the club sees that we have to push towards, so that is a cultural change, but it is also providing our own group with faith to say the club are genuinely trying to make a change to the list and what the expectations of the players are," he said.

"You have to balance up between the role [recruiter] Todd [Viney] and I play, which is a medium and longer-term view and saying, 'What do we need to build the game style to allow us to achieve success later on down the track?'

"So you can't get belted early days. So what are you doing in the short term to make sure that later on down the track you are in good shape for the way you play the game? So that is why you look at blokes like Shannon Byrnes and David Rodan, but then a Chris Dawes, who you hope is going to play for seven or eight years.

"In numbers, it is a significant change but maybe it's a bit different to what has happened in the past. We have gone a bit older, so we have recognised we needed some more experience, blokes who can play their roles in AFL straightaway."

26 comments so far

  • I feel for Melbourne supporters, they have no light at the end of a tunnel the length of a dunnyroll core... :(

    Commenter
    Davo
    Location
    Langers
    Date and time
    October 29, 2012, 10:17AM
    • We won 8 games with infighting destabilising the club in 2011 & managed a pathetic 4 games despite introduction of another team & hence more games against an uncompetitive team. What have we done to remedy this? We got rid of the player with the 3rd highest clearances in 2011 (after Neeld froze him out), moved on one of our better defenders & got rid of Stefan Martin (again frozen out despite performing very well in the absence of Jamar in 2011). The ins make for depressing reading - half a million for a decoy forward, a washed up David Rodan and a bit part player for the Cats with dodgy foot skills. I watched us toy with the Tigers & destroy the Crows by almost 100 points in 2011. I don't want to hear rubbish about changing culture & game plans and needing time. The natural progression in a youthful side should have translated to being more compettiive on the field but clearly it has not. It would be fairer to say most players on our list regressed. Neeld is a charicatured angry drill sargaent type whose only qualities seem to be ranting incoherently in press conferences & telling a few cliched 'home truths'. May his reign be brief and may Garry Lyon never be allowed near MFC again.

      Commenter
      Hank Scorpio
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 11:48AM
    • What happened to the Melbourne side that towelled up the Swans big time at the MCG in 2010 - they looked like becoming a powerful side. Gerard Healy stated at the time that of the bottom 8 sides they looked the side most likely to win a premiership in the next 3 to 4 years. Instead it has been the other way around - Sydney rebuilt and recruited extremely well - Melbourne did not. The Swans appointed John Longmire after an 8 year apprenticeship to Paul Roos - the Swans Chairman said he did not want an outsider coming in and turning the club upside down. He rather wanted Longmire to build on the work that had already done. Outcome; another flag to the Swans in pretty quick time. I'm not a Melbourne supporter but it seems to me that the club has been turned upside down and will take a very long time to become sucessful!

      Commenter
      Gazza
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 4:18PM
    • Well said Hank Scorpio. Too true. Utterly agree.
      And this article is a whitewash. It doen't even mention a guy called Stef Martin. It doesn't even mention the 'boundary is your best friend' garbage that drove the regression all around (and is not the way to play the mcg, you need predom. thru middle with also ability to go wide). It doesn't even mention why we throw away our players for nothing after first round picks and five years of investment. We'll be here watching week in and week out after the soldier coach is gone. We went from bad to pathetic. Start being human Neeld. Give them a sniff to win every game. That is how we won our only real game: essendon. Contest, middle, kick. Guys like Morton starred. And what before or since? Stop the personality cult neeld because you have made as many mistakes as anyone. Stop barking. Start being real. Stef Martin and other throw aways will not be accepted lightly.

      Commenter
      Redleg
      Location
      Coburg
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 6:22PM
  • Give it away dees, amateur at best. Short sighted view, no doubt the other clubs will be waiting patiently to pick up this years crop of draftees given they will be out the door by 2014. Dees really need to look at their development program too many jobs for the boys in demonworld & not enough accountability.
    This years pick ups wont help - all cast off's from other clubs.

    Commenter
    Mr Magoo
    Location
    Selling the dream
    Date and time
    October 29, 2012, 11:01AM
    • dont be so sure.

      i'm not a dee, but having 2 good targets in mitch clark and chris dawes to kick to is a good thing, and will push many clubs to defend, especially clark.

      pederson will help down back and strengthen them up. shannon byrnes brings experience, even whilst not being the best player ever, he should be good for 1-2 goals a game crumbibng from clark & dawes.

      Commenter
      matty
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 1:05PM
    • Sydney is full of "cast off's from other clubs" and they just won the premiership!!!

      Commenter
      Thunder
      Location
      The Clouds
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 3:48PM
  • In the 12 years since 2000 Melbourne have lost 9 first round draft picks. They are Scott Thompson (16) in 2000, Luke Molan (9) in 2001, Nicholas Smith (15) in 2002, Brock McLean (5) 2003, Matthew Bate (13) 2004, Cale Morton (4) 2007, Tom Scully (1) 2009, Jordan Gysberts (11), 2009, and Lucas Cook (12), 2010.
    Granted three left of their own accord, however, too many were busts. If you are looking for an explanation as to why the Dees have not played in a final since 2006 then look no further than this appalling strike rate. You can change coaches as frequently as you wish, but if your scouting for talent is as bad as this, then it is much more likely the front office is not putting the right recruitment people in place.

    Commenter
    Taras Bulba
    Date and time
    October 29, 2012, 11:47AM
    • he said of the five players going out and four coming in

      Cook, Gysberts, Maloney, Jurrah,Morton,Pettard,Bate,Rivers,Bennell,, Martin

      That looks to me like ten going out not five... looks significantly radical to me
      Martin was coming good in'11 Maloney should have been captain. Morton was scrubbed when he kicked poorly Bate and Petard were in and out never allowed to settle in'12... am not surprised Maloney Jurrah and Rivers split...
      And Rodan couldn't get a game at Port and Dawes is not mobile enough can't lead,... couldnt succeed with a midfield feeding him made up of Swan, Thomas, Beams and Pendlebury
      Does he want to copy Collingwoods game plan? So,Now we'll see how good Neeld is and I certainly have my doubts,

      Commenter
      hard edge
      Location
      MCG
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 12:06PM
      • I feel bad for Bate...he wanted out last season when the dogs wanted him but the Demons identified him as a 'required player'. Now he's been unfriended they give him the shaft with not much hope of finding a new home...just hate the culture at that club.

        Thanks for the service guys...now p*ss off!

        Commenter
        Deebacle
        Date and time
        October 29, 2012, 4:07PM

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