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Roos and Demons still coming to terms with sins of the past

Paul Roos has to handle the delicate balancing act of surgically rebuilding Melbourne and its scarred footballers.

Paul Roos has to handle the delicate balancing act of surgically rebuilding Melbourne and its scarred footballers. Photo: Pat Scala

If the Melbourne Football Club’s attempt five years ago to lose games for early draft choices did not already sit high on the long list of the game’s most haunting cautionary tales, then Paul Roos confirmed its place on Sunday. 

The Demons’ practices of 2009 seemed initially successful but proved ultimately disastrous. That is well documented. 

Roos didn’t explicitly say so after his side’s capitulation against the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but he spoke ominously and emotionally about there being ‘‘a reason’’ behind the skill errors, the breakdown in stoppages and kick-ins. A reason behind a team that was ‘‘waiting to get beaten’’.

At some point, Roos will stop talking about the past. He surely realises there is a fine line between referring to the sins of those who came before him and erasing it from the conversation altogether.

 But to give him the benefit of the doubt – and premiership coaches with reputations like his deserve that – clearly he believes that talking about a problem sometimes cannot be a bad thing. 

Only six days earlier, Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson spoke of the club’s ‘‘toxic’’  culture and how this was not something that could be eradicated in one year. Jackson was referring to Roos’ contract extension. 

But as Roos handles that delicate balancing act of surgically rebuilding Melbourne and its scarred footballers – scars that appear to have deepened during the short but ugly Mark Neeld era – the good news is that tanking appears to have been removed from the AFL narrative this season. 

There will always be an incentive to finish on the bottom of the ladder as long as the draft moves forward in its current form. But no team will come close to qualifying under the commission’s new discretionary powers to hand out priority draft choices this year and no team intends to ask. While three teams,  including Melbourne, appear to be in contention for the wooden spoon, recruiters appear divided as to who is the No.1 draft choice anyway. And all those bottom teams – including  StKilda and Greater Western Sydney – have achieved at least one genuine scalp in 2014. 

As bad a game as Melbourne and Brisbane dished at the weekend, there was no sentiment among the audience or those behind the glass that this was a game either would have preferred to lose. 

Certainly Roos appeared taken aback in his disappointment. It is worth remembering that he was sitting on the Fox Footy couch the night Brock McLean spoke of and ultimately blew the whistle on the tanking affair – an affair that led to football director Chris Connolly leaving Melbourne, former coach Dean Bailey being suspended, and the club heavily fined. If McLean spoke honestly about that whole unfortunate period and the effect it had on him, then he cannot have been alone in his sentiments – even if he was the only one to speak up. 

Roos appears to  still be learning about the aftershock of setting up teams to lose when at the same time setting standards to win. 

The other club to have adopted this unfortunate and unsporting process almost as blatantly and escaped penalty was Carlton, and it did the Blues and those who were there at the time no favours either. 

Clearly Roos misread the extent of the damage at Melbourne, but the fact he has agreed to stick around to try to fix it cannot only be about a lucrative contract. Nor does it seem to be about excuses any more. 

This is good news for Melbourne, as was his tough call on those players he pointedly stated on Sunday might not be able to get over the past. This is not an indictment on Roos nor the players, but those who masterminded the clumsy tanking strategy in the first place and those who stood by and allowed it to happen.

1 comment so far

  • You should remember that Melbourne were on the improve through 2010 and 2011 winning 8-9 games. They had moved on from tanking period, were trying to become a force and were showing some positive signs. Early in 2011 they had some big wins including smashing Adelaide by the best part of 100 pts at the MCG as their new talent ran amok.

    They faded towards the end of the 2011 year and lost by 30 goals to Geelong in Rnd 19. Thereafter Bailey was sacked and it was very rapidly downhill thereafter. I suspect if Bailey had been supported and retained as coach in 2011, then Melbourne would have by now achieved mid-tier status similar to other rebuilding clubs of the time such as Carlton and Richmond.

    Commenter
    Viv
    Location
    Mitcham
    Date and time
    August 05, 2014, 4:20PM

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    AFL 2015

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    ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
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    WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
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    RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
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    GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
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    COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
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    CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
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    HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
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    RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
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    STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
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    GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
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    GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
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    CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
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    RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
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    GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs COL 16:35MS
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    MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
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    SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
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    MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
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    COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
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    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
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    GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
    NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
    STK vs HAW 16:40ES
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    PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
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    WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
    NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
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    COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
    STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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    RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
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    CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
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    WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
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    FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
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    Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
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    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
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    ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
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    Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
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    Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
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    WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
    NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
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    HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
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    Round 16
    Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
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    PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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    ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
    RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
    ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
    BRI vs NTH 19:20G
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    MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
    WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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    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
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    ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
    FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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    WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
    BRI vs GCF 16:35G
    GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
    WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
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    GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
    STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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    Round 20
    Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
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    WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
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    Round 21
    Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
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    GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
    STK vs GEE 19:20ES
    ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
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    CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
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    Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
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    HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
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    ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
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    STK vs SYD 15:20ES
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    Round 23
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    SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
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    Adelaide Crows 7 5 2 0 123.60 20
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