WHETHER Melbourne needs a priority pick to re-establish itself as a competitive team is a question for the AFL Commission, and football followers are entitled to ask whether it deserves one.  

If you take a step back however, the incredible run of missteps since 2007 show why the Demons find themselves in such an unprecedented position and in need of a priority draft selection. 

Let's start with its recent record.

The Melbourne list has nine players with a winning percentage lower than 25 per cent after 50 games. 

Read this and wonder about the inequality: Nathan Jones was selected at No.12, three picks ahead of Geelong's Travis Varcoe in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft. 

Jones has a winning percentage of 24.01 in 177 games compared to Varcoe's 84.3 per cent in 134 games. 

The club's winning record in the past three seasons is 15 per cent, and just 21 per cent from 2007 on. 

It has not won in 19 attempts at Etihad Stadium since round 19, 2007, and has not won in either round one or two since 2005. 

It has not been in the eight after a round since 14, 2011. 

The only Victorian clubs it has beaten since the end of 2007 are Carlton (once in 2014), Essendon (four from eight), Richmond (five from 12) and the Western Bulldogs (once in 2013).

Lose that often and you lose the confidence to perform. 

Melbourne is in the football equivalent of what financiers call 'a dead cat bounce' - that is, a temporary recovery from a long decline before the decline continues. 

Instead of a cash injection it needs a talent injection.

Remember, the Demons lost Mitch Clark this year after he retired when diagnosed with clinical depression. 

Melbourne wouldn't be the first club in the game's history to receive a priority pick. 

Carlton and Collingwood have benefited. Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs made use of two picks in the first six in 2004. 

The argument that hard work is the only reason some clubs get to the top again is just one part of the story. 

Melbourne would be the first club to receive a priority pick in the era of free agency and expansion that has made turning things around tough for those at the bottom. 

The club is within its rights to make the application. It would not do so with pride. It is a necessity. 

Of course it might be a smart move, tactically, to put its plight under the AFL's nose, as the Demons might be in line for free agency compensation at the end of the season if James Frawley departs, but that is a side issue.  

Melbourne now has the coaching staff and administration to make things work. 

It just needs more tools to become competitive and build on the foundations laid this season. 

- Peter Ryan


Let's not overreact to one disastrous loss and let's not get caught up in the emotive issue of whether Melbourne deserves a priority pick after making an art form of squandering early draft picks in recent years.

The question the AFL Commission should ask itself is whether Melbourne needs its third priority pick since 2008 to drag itself out of its post-2006 on-field funk. 

And, just as it did when Melbourne came knocking armed with the same request last year, the Commission should knock the Dees back. 

But just three rounds earlier Melbourne lost by three points to Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, with the Power needing a touch of Jay Schulz magic to get them over the line.

At the same ground in round seven, the Dees upset the Crows, while it's just two months ago that they beat finals-bound Essendon by one point.

Add the Dees' other two wins against Carlton and Richmond, and they have claimed four decent scalps this year.

Their percentage has also spiked from 54.07 last year to 69.51 this year. 

That's undeniable improvement.

With Paul Roos at the helm, the Dees also now have a proven coach who knows what it takes to be successful.

No one doubts the job in front of Roos, Peter Jackson and co. is a tough one, nor that it will take time.

But it is not insurmountable and the Demons can continue their return to on-field respectability without any further AFL handouts.

- Nick Bowen