As much as it hurts to read this, Demon club legend David Schwarz is absolutely spot on. This article written by David for the Geelong Advertiser this week.
BROCK McLean got me thinking when he re-opened the tanking debate.
It has been one year since Melbourne got flogged by a record 186-point margin against Geelong. Swiftly, change was made. The plan seemed logical. Out with coach Dean Bailey, limp to the end of the year, then build a powerhouse to shake the competition in 2012. Well, no other team has even flinched at Melbourne, and the only shaking going on is the heads of Demon fans. I’m one of them. I’ve had enough. When the Melbourne Football Club employed Bailey and decided that in order to play finals football again it needed to lose, the culture of defeat infiltrated the team. It is still there. I want it gone. But it is a very thick fog.
From the moment Melbourne thought defeat was beneficial, it has steadily gone backwards. Cultures in footy clubs can last for generations. Paul Roos built a mighty culture at Sydney. From the coach to the boot studder, the Swans are a team. They have embraced outcasts from other clubs to fill holes, nurtured youth, recruited wisely and they remain a force. Two years ago, still looking for answers, what did the Demons do to advance the club? Sacked the captain, James McDonald. They wanted to play the kids. Who’s brainchild idea was that? No one has put their hand up. Since when is youth the only option? We now see McDonald running around for Greater Western Sydney. Junior is a Demon. How did this happen? Fans are still hurting.
The promise of talent with high draft picks didn’t eventuate. Jack Watts arrived at the club so green that it has taken until this year for him to blossom. His debut against Collingwood was a marketing exercise. Look what we’ve got, Melbourne said to the competition. Well, it failed and it will forever haunt Jack as he tries to just play footy. Next up was Tom Scully. He left the club for money, yes, but he also left following a tour of China in which members of the team acted extremely unprofessionally. He didn’t want to be involved with an elite organisation at which such behaviour was acceptable. Geelong hasn’t had a No.1 draft pick since Stephen Hooper in 1990, yet it has used tactical intelligence to constantly refresh and replenish playing talent. High draft picks don’t equal premierships.
Some of the people involved in choosing to lose are still at the club. They have to get out and take the fog with them. As a supporter, I want no one who had anything to do with the era of negativity working for the club. I am sick of listening to fellow supporters upset with constant change yet no reward. I am going to cut coach Mark Neeld some slack here, though. He came in with a grand plan of reform, and he immediately identified the need for bigger bodies. He lured Mitch Clark, who, until his injury, was a beacon for the side. But Neeld must be sick of saying that he’s disappointed with the team’s efforts I know the supporters are tired of hearing it. Big talking in his first press conference was understandable, but I reckon the enormity of the task hit him when he took the team on the track and realised what he’d walked into.
The skill level at Melbourne is below that of AFL standard, and Neeld admitted that last weekend.
Melbourne has the third-lowest contested possession average in the competition. It leads Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast. Big deal. The foot skills on display in Darwin two weeks ago were deplorable. Players couldn’t hit targets. Where does this come from? What is happening at training? How can we get to Round 19 with the team not having improved at all? When a club accepts mediocrity, it sets a precedent that is hard to change. It has been over five years now. The black cloud still hovers.
I’m pretty sure there’ll be an almighty clean-out at the end of the year, both on and off the field. Melbourne chose the wrong path after Neale Daniher left as senior coach in 2007. Hopefully Neeld and his team can get on the right one. I’m over defending the club I love. It is not up to standard. It has a long way to go. My patience is wearing very thin.