Dees need a leader
IT’S time for some home truths to be delivered at Melbourne.
There’s no doubt the list is bursting with talent and the Dees can be a top-four side, but there is also no doubt there are some mental problems going on at the club.
Sunday’s shock loss to Hawthorn was a disaster for them.
But it also reminded me a little bit of our loss to North Melbourne in Round 5, 2007.
The defeat sparked that now famous honesty session between the players, got our season firing and propelled us towards the premiership.
I’m not saying it will work for Melbourne like it worked for us, but it’s time for the players to take some responsibility and talk honestly to each other.
It’s time for them to kick the coaches out of the room and just let the players talk it out.
I’d love to see Jordan Lewis stand up in front of the group and lead that session.
He was brought to the club for this exact reason. Lewis has been there, he has won premierships and can bring that experience to the group.
I’m not a massive fan of players coming in and saying, ‘this is what we did at my last club, so let’s do it this way’.
But with Lewis’ involvement at Hawthorn and the club’s recent success, then I think he has every right to bring that up.
You’ve got to have the right playing group to do these honesty sessions properly. Players have got to be able to take criticism and know it’s not personal.
At the end of the day every player wants what’s best for the club and they want to win premierships and sometimes some home truths can make everyone better.
Of course, there were some players at Geelong that got dirty when they heard some of the feedback. No one wants to hear negatives about themselves.
But it can be really powerful as a player when you have that period of self-reflection afterwards and realise you can improve.
The fallout from Melbourne’s planned pre-season training camp, which was controversially binned, might also be simmering under the water.
I didn’t like what happened and how some players got the camp cancelled. The question that gets asked is: How close is this group? I’ve got no doubt there would have been some players filthy on other players.
A lot of people come out and say, ‘well you don’t carry bricks on a football field, so why would you do that in a training camp?’. I understand it, but it’s not actually about that. It’s about working as a group.
When things get tough — like they would have on the camp — you want to know who is going to be the guy that stands up and leads the group, pulls the other guys along. Are we now seeing the impact of missing the camp make its way onto the footy field?
If the Dees came out and started well then that would have all been forgotten. But they haven’t come out and started well and it’s what we are all going to bash them about.
I’m not prepared to write Melbourne off just yet. I think on paper it is a club that has the potential to be a serious contender in 2018. The talent they have through the midfield — Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, throw in Dom Tyson, Lewis, Nathan Jones — is tantalising.
Jack Viney is also a big out for them. He’s showing how important he is by not playing and we know that Jack is the heart and soul of the footy club. Tom McDonald is also missing.
Once they get everyone back and playing well then I think the Dees will still finish pretty high on the ladder.
It’s now time for them to get the mental side of the game right. Daniel Menzel is just sizzling at the moment. He’s right up there in the Coleman Medal and has been by far Geelong’s most lethal avenue of attack this year. It was great to see him kick five goals on the weekend and he is now starting to prove his body is totally fine. We all know Daniel’s weaknesses. He doesn’t lay enough tackles. But not everyone is perfect at every aspect of the game. What we do know about Daniel is that he is a goalkicker and a match-winner. Would you rather someone who averages 3.5 goals and 1.8 tackles a game, or someone who kicks one goal and lays eight tackles? I know my answer to that one. Ben Brown — how good is it to see this guy become a genuine star of the competition? There was always going to be a lot of pressure on Ben this season given how we all expected North Melbourne to struggle and that the majority of the scoring load would be on him. But he’s handled it so well and probably found another level in 2018. I think he has flown under the radar a bit given he plays at North Melbourne, but the football public is now really starting to appreciate just how good he is. I’m starting to really worry about Adelaide. I expected the Crows to really show something against Collingwood following their underwhelming start to the season, but they offered very little. The game on Friday night was over fairly early given how bad some of the signs were. There has been a whisper going around that Adelaide didn’t train that great in the weeks leading into Christmas and we might be seeing the impact that has had now. How you rebound from a grand final loss is shown in how you train and if they put in five or so average weeks then the Crows are having to come from a long way back.
NEED TO LIFT: Melbourne’s loss to Hawthorn on Sunday could be a sign the players need to sit down for an honest chat.