Dees need a leader

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT -

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.

Pic­ture: AAP

NEED TO LIFT: Mel­bourne’s loss to Hawthorn on Sun­day could be a sign the play­ers need to sit down for an hon­est chat.

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