Things I learnt at Etihad Stadium, last Friday night.
Jack Steven gets plenty of ball. I had been a big fan until Friday night. He sprays the ball when disposing. He reminds me of Scott West. Wins the hard ball then just coughs it up with a shoddy disposal. Sam Gilbert is in the same place. Kicked a couple of great goals, gets the ball and runs out of defence, but often kicks it to the wrong place. In fact, I could rattle off another five or six players who can’t seem to dispose of the ball.
Ross Lyon is a great coach. We were mainly outcoached rather than outplayed. The Saints forward line was always suffocatingly crowded, in comparison to the Freo rebounds into an open paddock at their end. I am not that fussed Lyon moved on – coaches always do – but he was virtually two minutes away from being a two time premiership coach. To say otherwise is just plain silly.
Saints are probably a 6 – 10 finisher this year – although it is really starting to open up. Feels a little bit like 1997? Plenty of teams could challenge for a flag this year. I am not convinced that Hawthorn, Carlton, Geelong, and Collingwood are going to be the thumping favourites people expected. West Coast probably have the strongest claim – but time will tell.
For some reason, I have been reflecting on 2009 and 2010. Whilst I supported Ross Lyon’s decision at the time, I now believe that not playing Max Hudghton in 2009 was a mistake. You have got to pick a team to win a grand final. You don’t pick a team to “not lose”. Sure Max’s hammy was a little suss, but the kind of freakish desperation you saw from Scarlett in the dying moments is the kind of footy Max always brought. Raph Clark – the player who took the spot – was never going to live up to expectations. His inability to make quick and decisive decisions was a complete liability on the day. Players that give everything and leave nothing behind are the ones that win you flags – Lenny Hayes, Max Hudghton, Brendon Goddard… Hindsight is a lovely thing