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.