FREMANTLE has bolstered its strategy and opposition analysis resources as well as the development capacity of its football department ahead of next season as new football boss Joe Brierty targets a crucial month of setting the club and its senior coach up for a successful 2024.
Brierty, who is two weeks into his new role as Executive General Manager of Football, said November was a "vital" period for the Dockers as players return and the football department makes changes and some targeted additions.
The current coaching group is locked in for 2024, but Brierty said the club had been preparing for soft cap adjustments and would use its extra spending capacity to bolster two key areas around coach Justin Longmuir, who is on an educational trip in the United States.
"The coaching group is fairly stable and the people we've got will all be staying there. There's some elements there where we can tinker with that department and people we might look to bring in to add value," Brierty told AFL.com.au.
"We've obviously got one of the younger playing groups in the competition, so it's around how we can set them up with their individual development plans and support them ... so that's about resourcing our development program.
"Then from a strategy and opposition analysis perspective, we'll look at strengthening that as well and making sure Justin feels he has got access to what he needs in terms of delivering our game plan.
"They're the focal points of where we'll look to make some changes and add support."
Fremantle announced a series of internal moves on Friday, with Geoff Valentine appointed head of football operations and development, with development coach Adam Read replacing Valentine as WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder's coach.
The Dockers are now on the hunt for a new development coach, having also promoted football strategy coordinator Harry Garland to stoppages and opposition coach. Bob Murphy will take up a skills coaching role within the AFL program and has relinquished his head of AFLW duties.
The football program changes shape as Brierty's first major task in the role after replacing Peter Bell last month following the Fremantle champion's move into a new executive position with a strategic focus.
A driven football administrator with more than 12 years' experience at Fremantle, Brierty shifted from his role as the Dockers' chief operating officer having progressed through roles in risk and governance, operations, leadership, and performance and strategy.
With external mentors including former Essendon and Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson and long-time Fremantle football manager Chris Bond, and a close relationship with chief executive Simon Garlick, he said he felt well prepared to lead the football program.
"I've had 10 years as a football administrator, and at the end of that was two years as our GM of football operations and performance, so I understand the leadership required within the football program," Brierty said.
"The ability to move into the role of COO at the club for two years gives me a strong understanding of what's required as a leader from a strategy and implementation perspective and understanding what parts of the business influence outcomes.
"Now having over 12 years of experience in the AFL industry, I feel like I'm very well equipped to perform the role and be ready for the challenges."
With relationships across the industry with several rival football managers and administrators, Brierty said the role can essentially be boiled down to supporting a club's senior coach.
For Fremantle, Brierty said it was important to make sure the club was maximising the talent around Longmuir, who is entering the final year of his contract, and allowing the coach to influence the areas of the football program he needed to.
"Supporting him is exactly what my job is. Justin is the coach of the future for Fremantle, we're invested in him, and my role is to make sure we can bring his philosophy and the environment he wants to create to life," Brierty said.
"But also surrounding him with talent. It's not any one person, it's the sum of all parts. So when I talk about our coaching group, it's how do we elevate Joel Corey's influence, Jaymie Graham's influence, Matt Boyd's influence.
"We've got Bob Murphy and his experience with what he's done. Geoff Valentine from a Peel perspective and the impact he's had coming in.
"I think my role is to make sure all those aspects surrounding Justin are performing their role to the highest level they possibly can and that from Justin's perspective, he feels as though he's having the impact and influence where he needs to day to day, and he's not caught up in areas he doesn't need to focus on."
Longmuir has spent time in the United States, visiting NFL clubs the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints during a study trip that has also seen him link up with players Caleb Serong, Sean Darcy, Hayden Young and captain Alex Pearce.
On Darcy's expected contract extension, Brierty said conversations with the ruckman and his management and family remained "really positive".
"He's over in the US at the moment with our senior coach and captain, so Sean is really invested," Brierty said.
"We see Seany as a Fremantle footballer for life and the discussions have been really positive.
"I think that'll work through itself. Sean's in a good place and those discussions will be ongoing to get that finalised."