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The Wash-Up: Melbourne

Peter Ryan  August 28, 2013 3:19 PM

Make Nathan Jones your captain, Dees A review of the Melbourne Football Club's season
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The Demons must find more midfield support for Nathan Jones next year

Summary
Another difficult year for a club struggling on and off the field. Much like 2012, the Demons lurched from one disaster to another, with little evidence - aside from some promise in Jack Viney, Jesse Hogan and co -  to suggest the light at the end of the tunnel is getting any brighter.
 
What worked?
Little to enthuse about except the batch of youngsters introduced to the club from last year's NAB AFL Draft. Jesse Hogan was ineligible to play until 2014 but his good VFL form allowed Melbourne supporters to sleep more easily during the season than they might have otherwise. Jack Viney was excellent and Dean Kent looks a tough nut. Jimmy Toumpas has taken a while to pick up the pace but he had hip injuries to overcome and an interrupted pre-season. Melbourne remains confident he will be a good player. Mature-aged recruits Matt Jones and Dean Terlich performed well under all sorts of pressure. And before you forget, Melbourne created a club record score for one quarter when it kicked 12.2 (74) in the last quarter against Greater Western Sydney in round four. That seems almost comical now.
 
What failed?
Where do you start? From round one, Melbourne was on the back foot after Port Adelaide thumped it by 79 points. Soon after the CEO had to step down, the president departed, then eventually the coach was dismissed as the club embarked on a complete reconstruction of the football department. The players were disillusioned with the club's direction but they hung in there and scraped a win against the Western Bulldogs under interim coach Neil Craig. By year's end, the club was more settled, had a new president, CEO and was hoping, yes hoping, to enter another phase of renewed hope.
 
Surprise packet 
Matt Jones has been outstanding in the midfield as a mature-aged recruit. Little was known about Jones when he made his debut in round one aged 25 and he was a stand-out in the first half of the season. He averaged 19 disposals a game and kicked just two goals but he added depth to a skinny midfield. While Jones' form had dropped off at the back end of the season, he showed enough early to predict he has a good future.
 
Disappointment
No-one's fault but the inability of Mark Jamar and Mitch Clark to play consistent football was terrible luck for Melbourne. Clark played just four games before having season ending surgery on his troublesome foot. It was a tough year for Clark, who missed the second half of 2012 after starring in the first 13 rounds. Jamar played nine of the first 11 games but was missing from round 11 with a foot injury. He returned via the VFL in the second last round of the AFL season. 
 


Melbourne will be desperate to see more of star forward Mitch Clark next year. Picture: AFL Media

MVP: Nathan Jones
 
Best rookie/first year player: Jack Viney
 
Best win: Against the Western Bulldogs, round 14.
 
Low point 
Take your pick. From a football point of view, the 148-point loss to Essendon in round two was the most devastating. By the time the equally bad 122-point loss came against North Melbourne in round 18, most supporters were numb to any feeling of devastation.
 
What needs to improve 
Belief and trust. No team can endure the beltings Melbourne has suffered in recent years without doubting their ability. The first job of the new coach is to engender some self-belief and renew trust in each other. Once the joy of being part of an AFL club returns, the players can bring a positive mindset into the task of getting better.
 
Who's done: Aaron Davey, Joel MacDonald.
 
What they need:
The Demons averaged just 40 inside 50s a game, so that means midfielders, midfielders and more midfielders. Obviously a classy young midfielder with a competitive instinct should be the target of its first pick in the draft. The forward line and backline look relatively settled, but midfielders are needed to support Nathan Jones, Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Viney and Jack Trengove. Jack Grimes would be great on the half-back flank and Jeremy Howe could become a roaming wingman. Its leading goalkicker, Howe entered round 23 with just 27 goals – the fourth time in six seasons the club's leading goalkicker has not topped 30 goals.
 
Darcy says: "It was another horrible season for the Melbourne Footy Club. Melbourne’s season highlight will come when the final siren sounds on their last game of the year; the only positive thing will be is that this year is over.  

"Hopefully the players can erase it from their memory and they can get into the summer, sort out who their new coach is and hopefully there is some positives for them for next year."