I wrote these words just before we nearly threw away the 2010 Premiership.
[I]t’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.
That was the story of Friday night – though Footscray’s approach to goal didn’t focus on leads – it did focus on moving the ball, keeping the forward line open, kicking to advantage. And yet with Collingwood dominating the midfield for almost all of the game you never got the impression that there was a plan in place – a set of routines the Collingwood players all knew that would convert control of the ball from the midfield into a dangerous shot on goal in most circumstances. Since the early Malthouse years Collingwood has always given the impression – to me anyway – of having to do that much better in order to win than any other team.