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Your views: why it's going wrong for the Hawks

Why is it going so wrong for one of modern footy's champion teams?

IN THE wake of consecutive 86-point thumpings, we asked for your take on why it's going so badly, so quickly for the Hawks.

One thing clear is that many Hawk fans are keeping faith in Alastair Clarkson's team to revive its fortunes.

Over 40 per cent of Hawthorn supporters say the side's current form is a blip.

However, opposition supporters are emphatically writing the Hawks off. Over 80 per cent say the Hawks' 0-4 record and dismal percentage simply reflects where the club is at.

Here's a selection of your views on the plight of one of modern footy's champion teams.

Why is it going so badly for the Hawks right now?

All reigns end

The system is designed so no one team can dominate for an extended period of time. They have done a brilliant job, but all reigns end. Just ask the Brisbane Lions.

- Rob Fergus, Brisbane Qld

• Hawks crash 'inevitable' says departed champ Jordan Lewis

'The worst trade period in the club's history'

You do not give up your two best players (according to club best-and-fairest results) for nothing. No club in history has ever done that, no business in the world would've made that deal.

Clarkson said on numerous occasions that age doesn't matter, only form. Then why push out two legends? Disgraceful. And now club morale is suffering.

- Shaun Grant, Los Angeles USA

Broken promises

Many of the Hawks' mid-range players (Breust, Smith, Sheils) took pay cuts to stay at the club during the premiership years. They were promised they would be looked after when the club could afford to. Rather than reward this loyalty, they bring in Mitchell, O'Meara and Vickery on big dollars.

This, along with trading club champions, has hurt their culture. Many of the Hawk stalwarts are as a consequence just going through the motions at present.

- Nicholas Oddy, Burwood Vic


Elite individuals are the backbone of a club

Hawthorn have traded their two best players, and another talented player in Bradley Hill. If Geelong were to trade Selwood, Dangerfield and Motlop, there would be more chance of politicians taking a pay cut then the Cats making finals.

Elite individuals are the backbone of a club. In 2014 the Suns were on the cusp of making finals before Ablett got injured. They struggled to win a game without him.

Fremantle in 2015 were minor premiers. In 2016 they had early injuries to their two biggest names in Fyfe and Sandilands and were lucky not to finish with the wooden spoon.

Hawthorn cannot replace Mitchell and Lewis and it will take time for new players to jell. Ageing stars getting close to retirement, no depth in their list and no early draft picks means a steep decline and long and cumbersome rebuild.

- Phillip Thornber, Thurgoona NSW

The Stats Files: Can Sam Mitchell complete a Brownlow full house?

They rely on precision kicking and they've recruited handballers

Once a dominant kicking side, they've recruited Mitchell and O'Meara who rarely use the ball by foot. They never relied upon the inside battle as they could beat opponents on the outside with precision passing.

They would have been better suited going after midfield speed and quality users by foot.

- Daniel McCann, Adelaide SA

Handball-happy recruits Tom Mitchell (centre) and Jaeger O'Meara (left). Picture: AFL Photos

'The young brigade is showing very little heart'

The fact that the team didn't fire up when Geelong were taking shots at Hodge, a three-time premiership captain and legend of the club, spoke volumes. Hodge displayed what had made Hawthorn a feared side and his teammates looked on like passengers.

- Jordan Prideaux, Melbourne Vic

• The Hawks have lost hope, says club legend Lethal


Unfair compensation for free agents

Little access to high draft picks has been coupled with unfair compensation for players leaving through free agency.

The Hawks' contemporaries in Geelong have been 'given' more from the system, for example two first-round compensation picks for Ablett. Sydney had access to Heeney and Mills from their Academy – players they otherwise would not have got.

Hawthorn's compensation picks for Franklin, Suckling and others have been a joke. At the time no one cared as the Hawks were winning flags.

- Shamus Lynch, Cheltenham Vic

Eagles beware

The Hawks have too many ageing players who aren't able to match the pace and four-quarter performances of younger teams.

They have for years relied on their players being first to the ball, and winning the contested ball. This isn't happening and they are now having to chase the opposition. This isn't a game the Hawk players have  been used to playing.

Trading out Mitchell and Lewis may not have been such a good idea, but reducing their older list had to happen. West Coast will suffer a similar dip in a few years. Last year they recruited Mitchell, Petrie, Vardy - older players with a very limited 'life'. This will see them also suffer a lack of youth coming through in a couple of seasons.

- Andrew Poole, Salter Point WA

What needs to happen for the Hawks to return to winning ways this season?

Take the Tiger path

It isn't an overnight solve for the Hawks. Getting game time into the likes of James Sicily is the right step forward. They still have the top-end talent to win games this year, with Burgoyne, Hodge, Rioli, Roughead, etc still capable of getting them over the line.

But they won't make finals. They would be well served to go down a similar path to Richmond, bringing in exciting pacey players like the Tigers' Rioli and Castagna.

- Jack Boronovskis, Richmond Vic

Time up for Josh Gibson

As good as Gibson has been, it's time to go. Put Hodgey back into that sweeping role to replace Gibson and provide direction and rebound out of defence, and get Birchall back in ASAP!

Now is time to throw caution to the wind. Getting thumped by 86 points two weeks in a row with a defensive mindset clearly isn't the answer. Let's put Gunston back in the goal square, Roughy at half-forward and Cyril and Poppy crumbing in opposite pockets.

Put the pressure back on the opposition to try and stop us!

The depth of talent is still there and the age of the talent is still in the window to deliver results.

- Jeff Bennett, Perth WA

Here's why fixing 'Flawthorn' is going to take some time


'A win or two will grow confidence'

There is some respect in the bank for premiership players and good servants but perhaps an injection of youth and speed might arrest the slump. Finals would not be on the radar this year. Remember that Geelong missed the 2015 finals after forcing the retirements of, or trading senior premiership players.

 - Michael Byrnes, Deception Bay Qld

Acknowledge the club stuffed up the trade period

Clarko needs to formulate a game plan that capitalises on the strengths of the current squad, which at least for the moment has lost the skill of precision kicking.

Part of the weekly training needs to be team building exercises - the boys just aren't jelling anymore.

It would help to drop a few big names down to the twos- Gibson for starters.

Finally, I would hate for anything to be done publicly to undermine the confidence of O'Meara or Tom Mitchell, but there should be some acknowledgement to the fans and the players that the club stuffed up the trade period.

Patrick Swayne, Anchorage, Alaska USA

'Be ruthless with older players who aren't playing with speed anymore'

They have been clearly run off the park in all the games so far this season.

Be looking to blood young players, and give freedom to midfielders to take risks when moving the ball forward.

Increasing the pressure in the contest is going to be needed too, as they haven't won a contested possession count since middle of last season, which is a problem that needs to be addressed in the immediate future if they want to be competitive for the remainder of the season.

- Alex Davies, Adelaide SA

Look to the Dockers

For Hawthorn to have any chance of playing competitive football, they need to follow the example set by Fremantle over the last fortnight, and play their young players.

While the youth at Hawthorn certainly doesn't match that at Fremantle, developing players for the future must be a priority for a side that is quite clearly bottom four based on current form. In adding speed and youth to their line-up in the form of Griffin Logue, Harley Balic, Ethan Hughes, and Brady Grey, the Dockers managed to knock off the reigning premiers and defeat the Demons in Melbourne.

Despite lacking high picks, Hawthorn still have plenty of options with Dallas Willsmore, Kade Stewart andMarc Pittonet [starring in the VFL] and Jonathan O'Rourke, Teia Miles and the rookie listed James Cousins also putting in reasonable performances.

Injecting these players into the senior side is looking like the only way to add the much-needed spark into a flat side, while also serving the purpose of developing young talent for future years.

- Patrick Moran, Vic

Turning to youth has helped resurrect Freo's 2017 fortunes. Picture: AFL Photos

We may as well sacrifice this season

If I'm honest nothing can get us back to winning ways this season. But if we want a brighter future we need to get time into the youth. Even Irishmen like Glass and Nash should be given plenty of game time this season. Our season is going to be bad no matter what, but at least we can use it as a stepping stone.

And one thing youth can guarantee is enthusiasm. We've seen it with Fremantle so why not with us? Sure, the young guys weren't taken at the top of the draft, but they are the future of our club. We may as well sacrifice this season because we are not a finals team anymore.

- Oscar Wills, Canberra ACT

All is not lost

Without question, hitting their targets has dropped off considerably. But if you look at our matches so far, anybody would have lost to Essendon in round one; Adelaide; an extremely fired up Gold Coast; and then a blockbuster match where we were in it for three quarters.

Compare that with Richmond's four easy games against Carlton, a Collingwood who couldn't kick straight, West Coast at the 'G, and Brisbane.

It's a long season and it will average out at the end.

- Jeff Whitty, Hobart Tas

Listen to AFL Exchange

On this week's podcast the boys discuss:

• Should the Hawks trade Jack Gunston, and what could they get for him?

• Could Hawthorn's first round pick propel St Kilda to a flag tilt in 2018?

• What is Adelaide's one weakness?