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Season review: Fremantle

Out-of-shape Docker who's not fit enough What went right and what wrong in Freo's season in The Wash-Up

In a nutshell

It was eventful. The Dockers started brightly and some kids were exciting, but Ross Lyon's workplace harassment scandal, uncompetitive efforts away from home and a spate of soft-tissue injuries wiped plenty of gloss off the season.


Have your say: Give your season verdict on the Dockers using the form at the bottom of this article.


What we said in the pre-season 

An eight-win season more or less met expectations, but so did fears of more blowout losses if injuries took a toll. We thought the Dockers needed Matt Taberner and Cam McCarthy to combine for 60 goals to solve their forward line woes, but Taberner's season was cruelled by a fractured foot while McCarthy's career is at the crossroads and they managed only 29 majors between them.

What worked

Recruiting Nathan Wilson Skill is Freo's major deficiency and the ex-Giants superboot helped address that problem with a strong season at half-back.

Investment in youth Adam Cerra, Andrew Brayshaw, Brennan Cox and Sean Darcy are best 22, rookie Bailey Banfield was a bargain, while Ed Langdon and Luke Ryan are becoming stars.

Alex Pearce's comeback Returned from broken leg complications after nearly two years out and got through 21 games. A long-term key defensive partner for Joel Hamling.

What failed

Injury management Stephen Hill had five separate stints out, Harley Bennell didn't play, ditto Griffin Logue, while others – including Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands – missed chunks due to soft-tissue dramas.

Forward firepower Looked promising when Taberner was clunking the ball early, but recruits McCarthy, Shane Kersten and Brandon Matera battled. Freo ranked bottom three in scoring for a third-straight year.

Interstate form A 1-8 road record and 62-point average losing margin was unacceptable, and the round 22 club record loss to Geelong an embarrassment.

Overall rating

C.

A team for the future is taking shape but nine beltings by 50 points or more wasn't good enough.

The coach

It was hot in the kitchen for Ross Lyon during the workplace harassment scandal and after the Cats drubbing. He is contracted until 2020, but fans are tiring of the game-style and want to see more attacking flair. Freo must close the gap between its best and worst performances next season or Lyon will be under pressure. 

Ross Lyon has had a tumultuous season on and off the field. Picture: AFL Photos

The leaders 

Nat Fyfe is growing as captain and was on track to claim his second Brownlow Medal before copping a one-match suspension. David Mundy and Lachie Neale were outstanding in playing all 22 games, and crucial while Fyfe was injured. Alex Pearce looks a future skipper, but Bradley Hill lasted barely two months before an off-field indiscretion saw him dumped from the leadership group.

MVP

David Mundy. Lachie Neale and Mundy could be neck and neck for the Doig Medal but the former skipper's versatility to go forward and help organise the attack, as well as impact through midfield, arguably made him the MVP.

Surprise packet

Ed Langdon. Showed plenty of promise last year before a knee injury but stepped up to another level and averaged 22.4 touches as a line-breaking wingman. A huge tick.

Get excited

Adam Cerra. Oozes class but his toughness shouldn't be underrated. Booted two goals on debut, had 30 touches in the win over Adelaide and will be a jet. Now to get him re-signed.

Disappointment

Cam McCarthy. Showed so much promise at the Giants, albeit in a better team, but just doesn't look fit or desperate enough. Forty-four goals in two seasons isn't enough for a player of his ability.

Best win

Round 12 Fremantle 10.11 (71) d. Adelaide 9.14 (68)

Nat Fyfe was suspended but the next generation of Connor Blakely, Adam Cerra, Luke Ryan, Ed Langdon and Brennan Cox led the way to an upset win over last year's Grand Finalists. 

Best individual performance

Nat Fyfe. Round five v Western Bulldogs

You could take your pick of about five of Fyfe's early-season games but this was like watching a man against boys. He had a career-high 43 touches, 21 contested possessions, 13 clearances, seven inside 50s and kicked a goal in a 54-point win. 

Low point

It's difficult to separate Ross Lyon's workplace harassment scandal which engulfed the club for a month from the horrendous club record 133-point capitulation against Geelong in round 22. It was an ugly fallout from both.

The big questions

Is the rebuild heading in the right direction?

Is coach Ross Lyon the best man for the job?

Will No.5 draft pick Adam Cerra re-sign?

Season in a song

I'm a Believer – The Monkees

Who's done?

Retirements: Michael Johnson, Danyle Pearce, Lee Spurr

Delistings: Nil

Unsigned free agents: Nil

How should they approach trade and draft period?

Ross Lyon said it after round 23: the Dockers need quality and there is no point bringing in fringe players. He wants skilled, quick and multi-positional mids, which never go astray, but Freo desperately needs more dangerous forwards.

Early call for 2019

More than eight wins would be great but the priority has to be simply being competitive on a consistent basis, at home or away. 

Dockers fans: what's your season verdict?

Share your views via the form below and we'll publish the best responses on Thursday, September 6. 

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