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Shades of Blues keep repeating

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Don't miss it... Demons actually have a highlight

Our footy experts review Adelaide's morale-boosting win over Carlton, and Jeremy Howe's high-flying mark for Melbourne.

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GREAT football teams have something going for them other than superstars, stingy defenders or multiple goalkickers. They boast a mental resolve, a steely streak that ensures the results whatever the circumstances. Carlton still hasn't got it.

The Blues will be the subject of much debate this week after yesterday's 69-point smashing at the hands of Adelaide. In fact, it was already happening by the time they'd gone in at half-time 26 points in arrears.

As usual when Carlton loses, much of the heat, at least from supporters, will be focused on coach Brett Ratten. There'll be endless talk about structures and game plan. Some of which might well be valid.

Frustrated Blues: Adelaide's Jason Porplyzia marks in front of Carlton's Bryce Gibbs.

Frustrated Blues: Adelaide's Jason Porplyzia marks in front of Carlton's Bryce Gibbs. Photo: Getty Images

But the lack of mental fibre is a far more fundamental problem for the Blues, who won't be winning a flag until they harden up.

Carlton has been a pretty handy team in terms of talent for four years now. It can rip sides apart with its run and dazzle them with skill. It has on occasion pulled out some great backs-to-the-wall wins. But it never seems to do so for any sustained length of time. And its various failures are instructive.

It's significant that the Blues haven't managed to string more than four victories on the trot together since 2000. And in the last couple of years particularly, as they've found a better balance across the 22, dropped a series of games that talent and form dictated they shouldn't have.

Last year, in a game reminiscent of yesterday's disaster, there was a six-goal loss to West Coast at Etihad Stadium with Carlton coming off four big wins in a row and its flag prospects being talked up.

That setback sent the Blues into a mini-spiral, losing three of four. Sure enough, they recovered, winning another four games on end. Then came out and kicked one goal in a half against Hawthorn.

A gallant semi-final loss to the Eagles in Perth, missing key players, hinted at a team that was growing in psychological maturity. But has that spilled over into a season in which enough pundits were tipping Carlton for the flag? It doesn't appear so. Because the pattern keeps being repeated.

The Blues haven't hit many greater heights this millennium than their 10-goal flogging of Collingwood in round three. Only to be followed by an abject performance the very next week against Essendon.

A win in Perth against Fremantle was a good answer, another against Greater Western Sydney efficient enough. Only for the belief levels to be rocked again by a pumped-up St Kilda last Monday night.

They were still clearly wobbly from the outset yesterday, even after the first two goals of the game. Adelaide was harder all afternoon, its midfield core of Scott Thompson, Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane everything Carlton's group needed to be. And wasn't.

Andrew Carrazzo's grunt and spirit have been a massive loss for the Blues. But should one player, who would himself concede he doesn't have the same natural ability of many of his midfield peers, leave that big a hole? A hole that became a chasm once Marc Murphy's shoulder injury took him out of proceedings?

Carlton was without Jarrad Waite yesterday, too, but as far as emotional maturity goes, it's not as though he has been a leading light. Ditto Robert Warnock, another potential inclusion in the ruck with Shaun Hampson and Matthew Kreuzer struggling yesterday.

The Blues' back line looked a work of art at times last season. Chris Yarran's absence seemed to rob it of all its creativity, and Jeremy Laidler's has taken away its tough streak, Nick Duigan is particularly out of sorts. Will anyone bar Michael Jamison hold the fort?

Carlton has Melbourne on Sunday, then Port Adelaide, not in the same league as the Blues for class, to play it back into form and belief over the next fortnight. You'd be silly not to think there are two likely wins. It then has Geelong, West Coast (away), Hawthorn and Collingwood over the ensuing four rounds. It would want to win at a bare minimum four of those half-dozen, which would leave the Blues 9-5.

But given the frequency with which Carlton clocks off on a psychological level these days, it would want to win all six for it to dispel the now justified belief of its rivals that no matter how well they appear to be travelling the Blues are always more than a little vulnerable.


  • Where Wallsy today?????????

    Date and time
    May 21, 2012, 11:04AM
    • Rohan, could not agree more, Blues have a long history of this, when its there for the taking, they never take it. Bit like the Aussie cricket team and dead rubbers. The problem I have with Carlton is that a number of players believe too much in themselves, play with way too much fear and will not get the ball on. Why do they not kick confidently to a one on one or to space up the field and let the so called speedsters run on. We have not had a hard nut in the side since Fraser Brown, Diesel or Rhys-Jones, Robinson is too inconsistent. I wrote to Brett Ratten two years ago, do not give up Jacobs. I can see it now, Jacobs in the centre, Kruze at CHF and Hampson at FF!!!??? Until there is a bit of working together, hunting in packs and not hanging back, we will go nowhere. The next two weeks are dangerous, the Dees will look at this as will the Power, 2 teams that can run, play without fear because they expect to lose, but might just win. BTW what is the story with GIbbs, in some sides he would not get a start, hesitant, slow, and where is the long raking kick from half back. Must go into the middle now to cover a very out of form Murphy and show his worth.
      This season is turning into a nightmare, we are slow, lack instinct and what is clearly evident is Judd is not an issue for other sides anymore, he can get 30+ posessions but he has no one to give them to.
      Very annoyed, where is the PASSION in the jumper.

      Bluebagger Craig from Adelaide
      Date and time
      May 21, 2012, 11:12AM
      • Melbourne is beyond a joke and even beyond much media attention, it seems, so Carlton has done the right thing by having a bit of a flat patch. Gives everyone something else to chew on. As a Collingwood supporter I remember very well how good Carlton can be. Against the Pies they won the hard ball and then spread like maniacs all day long, never letting us catch our breath. And yesterday? Yes, they looked flat, as if their heart wasn't in it, but it hardly calls for a doom and gloom analysis stretching back to 2000. Expectations that Carlton would be a serious chance for the premiership this year were always a bit optimistic, and the chance of a top four spot is surely slipping away, but this is far from a 'freefall'. More like a media 'all in', really. They have serious issues (not least the apparent absence of anything resembling onfield leadership yesterday, Judd's 'leading by example' notwithstanding), but like any building side they will also be subject to the occasional reality check. Media commentators, on the other hand, suffer no such constraints.

        Days to Come
        Here and There
        Date and time
        May 21, 2012, 11:15AM
        • Melbourne is escaping scrutiny because the media have already gone down that path.

          No point rehashing old news unless you simply have no choice.

          Personally speaking, I think NM are very lucky Carlton stumbled because the head would have been on them instead.

          Date and time
          May 21, 2012, 4:20PM
      • How do the players take Ratten seriously? He looks like Alfred E Newman.

        Date and time
        May 21, 2012, 11:17AM
        • As a Blues supporter I'd take a loss to Melbourne this week. We are constantly being outcoached and while I love Ratts I just don't think he is the bloke for the job anymore and the club will just sit on their hands until the end of season unless something drastic happens. There is no Plan B and while the effort from the players has definitely been lacking lately, coming up with coaching tactics is not their job.

          Like all clubs we have our talented players and our ordinary players and we're just not getting enough out of either.

          Date and time
          May 21, 2012, 11:21AM
          • I totally agree GB, Ratts was a fantastic player but that doesn't necessarily make a person a great coach! He never has a plan B and has his favourites who get games week in, week out without having to earn their spot. Sorry Blues but you're definitely not playing as a team, too many of you are fighting each other for marks or trying to kick miraculous goals when you could pass it to someone in a better position. We're not too good at draft picks either, why does it take years for our young guys to be able to play in the seniors when other clubs have theirs slotted into their team playing good footy within months?? Carltons struggling and Northern Blues are struggling (so we obviously have no depth) - something is definitely wrong and MAJOR changes have to be made not just to our players list!!

            Date and time
            May 21, 2012, 1:53PM
        • Wallsay last seen in the foetal position sobbing outside Princes Park.............

          Rusty Strodes
          Date and time
          May 21, 2012, 11:22AM
          • Does the football media have any credibility any more? So far the Hawks have been flag favourites, but it seems they're now cooked. The Blues were favourites, no chance now. Adelaide were no good after they got beaten by Hawthorn (according to Rohan there was doubt over Hawthorn because they only shook Adelaide off in the last quarter), but now they're right up there. It's an absolute joke.

            Date and time
            May 21, 2012, 11:34AM
            • I definately agree. There's a bunch of good contenders as reflected by the poll, but giving any one team a "favourite" tag is a bit foolish at this stage.
              Given the pool of favourites/competitive season, and more teams competing for the 8 spots, I think the draw will now have a huge influence (or even has already had on the ladder thus far?) - with Adelaide playing GWS/GC twice. Collingwood/Hawks/Geelong also have tough draws, which may influence the first two being in the top 4 and even whether Geelong makes the 8.

              Date and time
              May 21, 2012, 12:21PM

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