Well my track record isn’t too flash. I predicted a Collingwood win last year for the first final – and they controlled the game and used their control to kick points rather than goals and then let the Sainters back in. Then I predicted a Sainters win in the replay, more out of worry than anything else. Having outlined my thoughts in the post, on re-reading them they seemed to add up to a Collingwood win. Which was what happened.
Anyway this year is different. Somehow it hasn’t felt the same. Perhaps that’s because I don’t have tickets – as I did to both games last year.
Anyway, I’m already in mourning. I can’t see how we are going to win.
If I were to set out the way to win the premiership it would be the way Geelong have managed this season. The basic strategy behind the game changes subtly as sides come up with new approaches. But it takes the best part of a year at least to catch up with some new strategy. Thus we’ve seen Sydney get a premiership from flooding, and then they were unpicked. Then we saw the Saints doing something similar but somehow better. In each case both Sydney and the Saints didn’t have a very good bunch of players. They had a new strategy and players who were thoroughly drilled in how to make it work and they became almost impossible to beat.
The reason it takes time to peg such a strategy back is that, apart from figuring out exactly what they’re up to, you then have to figure out what to do about it. Collingwood has had its forward press going sufficiently well to win last year, but being the worrier I am I was always worried about Geelong, not just because they’ve got the fastest, most direct attacking game in the business, but because they added defence – copied from us – to that strategy.
They had it well enough worked out by early this year that they stopped us – when we had been pretty much unstoppable. One of their players said before the first of the two encounters something to this effect. “We want to be competitive, because we’ve changed our way of playing and if we lose but are competitive it will show that we’re learning”. And learning they were. So I didn’t want them to crush us in the last round of the home and away games. But they did.
More alarming still is that as I read in an article that someone else may remember and link to (I can’t find it) that Geelong’s stats have changed dramatically in the last five or six games. Their average kick length and kick to handball ratio has gone way up. They’ve basically come up with a way of getting the strengths of their attacking game without the downsides of inattention to defence. And they’re tearing other sides apart.
Whether deliberately or not, this new style hasn’t been really shown to the world for long enough for people to figure out how to unpick it, let alone drill the necessary skills and structures into their players to do so. So I reckon we’re in a lot of trouble. Tehy will pick us apart in just the way Hawthorn picked us apart last week – with lots of pressure against us in defence to stop us getting our run out of defence and with lots of long direct kicking zig-zagging down the centre of the ground and leading out from full forward.
Anyway, Malthouse is quite a smart fellow and so maybe he’ll come up with some response to this new challenge. But I’d feel a lot better if there was six months or so to actually get it right.
Anyway, we’ll see . . .
Postscript: Mickey M doesn’t give me any confidence with his dogged insistance on how good it will be to stick to what they’ve done and his cockamamie theory that the players were too afraid of losing and not free and easy with the ball. They had the wrong damn strategy which was hugging the boundary and not centring the ball at least fairly frequently which made them predictable and easy to stop.
Time will tell . . .