HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson has warned there is "no easy fix" to the Hawks' current predicament after they suffered a third comprehensive defeat in a row on Sunday.
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An inspired Melbourne crushed Hawthorn in the midfield behind dominant performances from in-form quartet Christian Petracca, Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney.
The Hawks had 21 fewer inside 50s and lost the clearances (18-31), centre clearances (7-16) and contested possessions (99-124) in the 43-point loss, while conceding 15 marks inside 50.
Hawthorn has more losses (four) than wins (three), and the ageing nature of its list means the club's recruiting strategy – savvy for so long under Clarkson and Graham Wright – is under fire.
However, Clarkson, who spoke expansively about his and the Hawks' future on Saturday, pointed to Will Day and Josh Morris as examples of young, emerging players.
Last year's first-round draftee Day, in particular, has impressed in his first two games at AFL level.
Clarkson also noted how successful Hawthorn had been in recruiting players from other clubs, evidenced more recently in Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'Meara, Chad Wingard and Jarman Impey.
"We'll keep working away. There's no easy fix to this – just hard work," he said.
"Our club's been in a really strong position for a long period of time and it's not frequent we're in these sorts of positions, so we'll just work hard.
"We know we've got a very loyal fanbase that will stick with our group, and the wheel will turn – we're hoping it's sooner rather than later but we're not going to give up on it."
Outspoken Hawks president Jeff Kennett suggested on 3AW radio on Saturday there was a chance Clarkson could part ways with the club at the end of his contract in 2022.
Clarkson said he was unaware post-match on Sunday of Kennett's comments and that he hoped those discussions were "a little way off yet".
He was unsure how bad Tim O'Brien's ankle injury was but said Jon Ceglar (broken toe) was "unlikely" to return against Sydney next week.
Meanwhile, Demons coach Simon Goodwin was delighted by his players' "really mature performance" that included a better connection from midfield to attack, a stronger aerial presence from big forwards Sam Weideman and second-gamer Luke Jackson, and miserly defence.
Goodwin also praised Petracca's "outstanding" campaign to date, as well as the midfield group as a whole, while adding that Harley Bennell was "getting better and better".
"We probably made a little mistake playing (Bennell) that early (round two) but … the more footy he plays, the better he will get," he said.
"He's a very smart player and uses the ball really well, and he's certainly embracing the things we want him to work on and get better at."
Key forward Tom McDonald (eye) completed a non-contact training session on Sunday, and Goodwin was hopeful he would be available for next week's crunch clash with Brisbane.