North Melbourne midfielder Nick Dal Santo has called for calm from the club’s supporters and former champions in the wake of the disappointing round-one loss to Essendon, saying he was confident the Roos would bounce back.
North’s opening-round loss has been put under the microscope after articles from former champions Wayne Carey and David King declared 2014 the club’s time to move into the top four, saying there would be “no excuses”.
Dal Santo said the opinions of Carey and King were valid and comments from chairman James Brayshaw after the 39-point loss on Friday night when he said the Roos played badly enough to get beaten by “139 points” – were also fair.
However, Dal Santo hoped the supporters would be able to see the bigger picture, and not get sucked into the short-sighted and negative hysteria that followed the round-one performances of losing teams such as Collingwood and Carlton and individual players such as Lance Franklin.
“I would like to think that it was a first-up bad performance and that we can get a lot better,” Dal Santo said on Channel Seven’s AFL Game Day on Sunday.
“I've been there for five months and I've seen how the boys go about their training, and the way we can play in NAB Cup games. Friday night was just really disappointing,” he said.
“The one thing I will say is that we haven't really spoke internally about where we want to finish. A lot of it is external, and then it gets relayed onto the playing group - 'You guys think you are going to be top four’.
“I think we are a good enough team to make finals and be really competitive.
“But I don't think Friday night was any indication of that and we don’t deserve to make finals if we keep dishing up that sort of stuff.”
The Roos are hoping their poor start to the season is not made worse by the loss of ruckman Todd Goldstein for several weeks due to shoulder injury.
The Kangaroos expect Goldstein, who suffered a knock during the first quarter on Friday night, to be fit for their round-two clash with Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
Goldstein played out the game but was clearly limited by the injury in rucking and marking contests.
"Todd had scans on Saturday morning which showed no signs of any ligament or joint damage to his left shoulder," the Roos said in a statement on Sunday.
"The club remains hopeful he'll be able to play against the Dogs on Sunday.
"He may require further precautionary scans this week in the lead-up to the game."
Two-time All-Australian Nathan Brown turned the blowtorch on North's midfield, saying they don't work hard enough defensively.
Brown says joint vice-captain Jack Ziebell is a terrific player but dropping him would be a way of shaking up the club and delivering some home truths.
"Ziebell the other night was on Brendon Goddard. He just gave him 20 metres," Brown told Nine's The Sunday Footy Show. "He was trying to point to him to try to get somebody else to take him.
"That's been going on for two or three years at North Melbourne. It's something that footy club have to change if they're going to play finals this year.
"I would drop Ziebell after one game. On a couple of occasions the other night, he just didn't want to go the other way."
North's injured captain Andrew Swallow described the loss as extremely disappointing, particularly in the contested-possessions area.
Swallow said fifth-year coach Brad Scott's post-match spray to his players was blunt.
"He went hard, probably as hard as what he has in his tenure," Swallow said on Sunday.