Matthew Nicks addresses the players during Adelaide's clash against Fremantle in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

UNDER-FIRE Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks says his team's systems are breaking down as pressure mounts amid a winless start to the season.

Nicks acknowledges growing criticism after three consecutive losses as the Crows approach Thursday night's opening Gather Round game against Melbourne.

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"I understand the noise," Nicks told reporters on Tuesday.

"I mean, when 0-3 there's a reason there's a lot of noise there because the expectation from our members and supporters is we play a brand of footy that they enjoy watching.

"At the moment there's good reason they're not enjoying watching ... we're playing poor footy."

Nicks, who after round one was re-signed until the end of 2026, will lose two players to injury for the Adelaide Oval encounter with the Demons.

Brodie Smith walks from the field after Adelaide's loss to Fremantle in round three, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Half-back Wayne Milera will miss the rest of the season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee during last weekend's loss to Fremantle.

And utility Lachlan Murphy faces up to five weeks on the sidelines after straining a lateral ligament in a knee in the defeat.

Nicks blamed a lack of cohesion for his side's struggles in a season when the Crows were widely tipped to return to the finals for the first time 2017.

But he denied off-season tweaks to his gameplan were a factor.

"We're not playing the same game we played last year," he said.


"Sometimes that can occur because you can be putting effort into areas where it's not needed.

"A little bit more pressure comes as you're getting loss after loss and then guys are going away from their individual roles or their responsibilities and so the system breaks down with that.

"We have had a great week from a learning point of view. Unfortunately we have done that now for a couple of weeks and there's small things popping up each week.

"But the difference between getting the job done and not getting the job done can be really fine at times."

Nicks pinpointed Adelaide's "shape" on-field as a prime reason for the failures.

"There's no luck involved. There's a certain system that we play to and when we play our best footy, it runs smoothly," he said.

Matthew Nicks looks on during Adelaide's clash against Gold Coast in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's a bumpy road for us at this point.

"We have got to find our way back to, I guess, simplifying what it is, and the areas that we've got to get right.

"And then trust that the contest will look after itself ... but also get our shape right.

"It's not necessarily ball movement – our skills aren't up to the standard we'd like them to be.

"The connection piece that's not there at the moment ... are we in the positions we should be, is it predictable to each other? And at the moment, we're not getting that right."