Mick’s Melbourne Magpies Maul . . .

Well that’s the question for us long suffering Collingwood supporters. Who will we maul, and will it be ourselves. For the uninitiated Collingwood finished at the top of the ladder at the end of home and away matches for the first time since . . . well I’ve read it somewhere, but it may be the first time since 1977. They’ve performed better than any other side. So they should be able to beat Geelong.  There is one thing that drives me nuts about them, and has since Mick Malthouse has coached them. He seems good at motivating his players for the big ones, as a good coach must be. He seems good at developing talent. He’s a worrier he says, which, as a fellow worrier gives me confidence. But here are the things that worry me.

We pretty much have the best set of players going in our forward line. Yet it’s hard to figure out what exactly the plan is up forward. In the case of virtually any other club, if a mid-fielder gets the ball and their side has control, there’ll be a dangerous lead up forward and that and an accurate pass will make it damn difficult for the opposition to stop a dangerous shot on goal. As I explained in this post, we don’t seem to do that. In fact though we’ve got a lot better than we were when I wrote that post I just linked to, the lack of strategy up forward remains. If they kept stats on it, I think we’d have one of the least number of shots at goal from a good spot within the forward 50 from marks to leads.

We take the ball laboriously round the wing and then pass to someone leading into a pocket for a lousy chance to score. Or we fart around at the fifty metre mark waiting for an opportunity to go into the forward line. But where that seems to work well for other clubs – with leads and also mid-fielders streaming down, when things are not going well for us it just seems to hold things up until the other side has packed its defence. Our style of kicking goals up forward seems to be to just look like we might attack and then kick the ball in and hope that things turn out. Usually they don’t but we have such control of the ball in the midfield that amidst all the behinds we score, we score enough goals to actually win.

Still, wordsmith as ever and ‘latter optionist’ Mick Malthouse has this to say ““We set, [in the] very early days, a criteria of our game structure being in place to win enough games to make the eight”. So there you go. I’ll be at the ground tomorrow night and I think we might make it over the line. If we do, we’ll beat those miserable Saints who, after the Swans, have done so much to make the modern game the cramped, low scoring miserable affair that Collingwood seems to be helping it become.

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14 Responses to Mick’s Melbourne Magpies Maul . . .

  1. Dave Bath says:

    Do I detect, in the final sentence, a grudging gratitude for the team that has done so much to return the game to a free-flowing, spectator pleasing, style?

    Perhaps tonight’s clash is one of styles, the outcome affecting, for some time, the fans of clubs other than those of the two bitter rivals.

    As with last year, tonight’s game is weirdly more important than next week’s.

  2. Alphonse says:

    May I speak for every other neutral. Go the Cats!

  3. Rafe says:

    Good to see some sports commentary. Sorry I don’t have the energy to contribute on the rugby league which is having a fantastic year with some interesting new faces near top, like the Green Machine from Canberra and the Roosters who have come from last to the top 6, playing Penrith on Saturday evening to make the final 4.

  4. Dave,

    Indeed you do. I think Geelong have been an ornament to the game. I wonder what rule changes could be made to try to advantage their magnificent direct and open style, which by the way, Collingwood would be just fine playing, whereas I doubt St Kilda or Sydney would.

  5. Kris says:

    In that last paragraph you’ve just constructed the best [moral] arguement for a Geelong win. ;)

    Carn the Catters!

  6. Matt C says:

    As a West Coast Eagles fan, I’ll join with Alphonse and all other neutrals in barracking for Geelong tonight. Go the Cats!

  7. Dave Bath says:

    [email protected] on rule changes (to promote a flowing game).

    I like the idea of it not being a mark if kicked backwards by your own team-mate if it is being caught in your back half, something like what was toyed with in the pre-season a couple of years back.

    This would also minimize the lacking-in-courage timewasting near the end of a close match.

  8. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Agreed – no-brainers. Consider the changes done – implemented. For next year.

    But I wish I understood why the game could be successfully played so defensively. It seems to me thinking about it (as opposed to trusting my lying eyes) that Geelong’s strategy is the best way to win, but it seems that it’s not given that lesser teams – particularly St Kilda and Sydney – have done so well defensively. Collingwood at least right now, is an exception in that I think they are this year as good or better than Geelong. This is a side that Josh Fraser, Tarkin Lockyer and Paul Medhurst can’t force their way into.

  9. JamesK says:

    I agree with Alastair Lynch’s analysis; betting on a Collingwood victory is a win-win situation.

    If Collingwood get up you win some money and if not, you just sit back and enjoy watching Collingwood lose.

  10. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Kris, Indeed I have. I’m just hoping Geelong are the moral victors tonight – and we win the game.

    JamesK, I often find myself betting for the other side for the same reason.

  11. FDB says:

    “I wonder what rule changes could be made to try to advantage their magnificent direct and open style, which by the way, Collingwood would be just fine playing, whereas I doubt St Kilda or Sydney would.”

    Freo were really heading that way before Barlow and Ballantyne both screwed their seasons. I agree – with the talent on board, especially guys like Didak, Pendlebury, Swan, that guy with the mop hairdo whose name I can never remember – there’s no reason Collingwood should be so conservative.

    I’d prefer the Cats tonight, but if the Pies get up I want them to tear those boring Saints a new whinging-hole.

  12. Rafe says:

    Well in the end it was a one-horse race. What about the massive off-break that resulted in a Collingwood goal! The Geelong boys must have realised when that kind of thing happens it is not your night.

    It went the other way for the stalwart boys in green. In your face CFMU and CITEA, proud sponsors of the Green Machine:)

    http://www.raiders.com.au/default.aspx?s=sponsors-directory

    Someone asked WTF – unions spending fees on sports clubs?

  13. Nicholas Gruen says:

    It was a crushing win.

    The Pies took the game to a new place as they say. On the other hand one could overdo this. From Cloke’s first goal which was a chancy affair despite being shot from 30 metres out directly in front, the Pies were dead lucky – with the off-break showing just how lucky. At the other end of the ground the Cats were very unlucky. If the degree of luck had been reversed Geelong would never have been out of the game, even though they were dominated all round the ground. Their silky smooth handball was a joy to watch when it got going and showed just how little they need to stay in a game.

    But luck was a more important ingredient than you’ll read about in any of the write-ups. Amazing to think that Collingwood could have dominated the game as it did so well for three quarters (and had its forward line functioning very well) and still the difference could have been about 3-4 goals going into the last quarter. I think if that had happened, Collingwood would still have won comfortably as it sd hv been able to hold its own in the last quarter with a bit more need to do so.

    I’ll miss those Cats. But the crucial stat – Collingwood – average age 24. Geelong, average age 27. Bye bye pussies, you were a joy to behold.

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