AFL 3 years ago

Where to Now, Essendon?

  • Where to Now, Essendon?

Thirteen rounds in and all the hope fans have dutifully built up has frittered away like air raspberry-ing out of a loosened balloon. For all the positivity that mathematical possibility gives a team, this squad is undeniably ill-equipped to challenge for at least a half decade. Maybe two years of mentally keeping up appearances has finally taken its toll and the cracks have truly opened.

Thirteen rounds in and all the hope fans have dutifully built up has frittered away like air raspberry-ing out of a loosened balloon. For all the positivity that mathematical possibility gives a team, this squad is undeniably ill-equipped to challenge for at least a half decade. Maybe two years of mentally keeping up appearances has finally taken its toll and the cracks have truly opened.

So, what now? What can possibly (and realistically) redeem another wasted year? Here are a few ideas.

You might also like

Rigorous List Assessment

Itís time to test each member of the list and see what value there is to unearth. Fans love winning but failing that, fans like to have hope. That means keeping players that are not only talented but give their all.

The weekend should have been the perfect opportunity for fringe players like Kavanagh and OíBrien to show their worth in light of a poor showing from their more senior counterparts. Sadly, this wasnít their moment.

Fortunately for a player like McKernan, whose AFL career is dangling by a life-saving thread, he showed the desire to stay in the league. Many more should follow his example.

Create free infographics with Venngage.

Since 2011, Essendon debuted 18 players in their first year in the league. The top 8 players are clearly valuable and talented but the rest of the list, with the exception of Langford and maybe Kommer, are unlikely to make any lasting impact for the side.

Of these 18, three are no longer with Essendon and you can guarantee that more will go.

Naturally, list management is a delicate act. Players have stayed loyal to the Club through the last two years. They need to be loved on the way out as much as theyíve been loved while they were in. At the same time, having too few veterans is unhealthy for off-field maturity as well as any potential on-field teaching. And having too many players without upside doesnít help winning number seventeen.

Sheedy used to trial players late in the season, no doubt to see what skills they had and perhaps to give them a small window to show their wares should the Club want to trade them.

With ten rounds to go, itís roll up Dempsey, Edwards, Browne, Dalgleish, Ashby, Hams, and Pears. Itís time to dance for your AFL life!

Aggressive Trading

At times like this, I mentally run through the list, counting through the player numbers like some kind of Rain Man.

Gone are the days of fleecing Fremantle for the rights to Lloyd and Lucas; gaining anything from a trade means giving up something of real value. The league is too small and paranoid for one-sided trades to occur.

What are the glaring needs? A reliable key forward. The Ruck. Speed through the midfield.

Who do we have that is excess to requirements but could be of value to another team? Carlisle is clearly at the top. A backman who can swing forward with great hands. Melksham, who can kick powerfully on both sides - if only he could find the ball more consistently. After that, who else?

Would trading these two be enough to get a pick or a younger fringe player?

In other leagues, consideration might be made to trade an established top-end player to try and get draft picks or a younger player. With talent seemingly low, would the Club be willing to raise the ire of fans (yet thinking more long term) by trading out Hibberd and Baguley for younger versions?

Promote the New Hope

Hereís an obvious one - make Heppell captain. Watson is clearly a man spent and he can pass the Weight of Windy Hill to younger shoulders. Perhaps this can revive him for the final few years of his career.

Zac Merrett is clearly on the way to being a great player and Colyer is the kind of excitement we haven't had since Reimers. Surely the good form in the reserves is sure to unearth someone. Someone? Bueller?

Hurley, Hooker and Daniher will be the future of this franchise. Keeping and nurturing them to create the Essendon of 2020 will determine if the Club can bounce back to relevancy.

Got something to add to this post? Share it in the comments!

0 0
please wait...