LUKE Beveridge's Western Bulldogs are sliding toward an historically inglorious slump.
Only once in the past 40 years has a team failed to make finals in the three seasons which followed a premiership – Hawthorn after its 1978 success.
After Saturday's loss to North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, the Bulldogs slumped to a 4-6 scoreline.
They have lost to North, Gold Coast and Carlton this year, which upon entry to round 10, occupied the bottom three places on the ladder.
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While the 2019 season is not yet a write-off, it seems headed for another non-finals finish. There are problems everywhere, particularly in the forward line.
The Bulldogs team against North contained 10 2016 premiership players. Player behaviour was a major concern post-premiership, and Beveridge chose to trade Jake Stringer out just one season later.
Inclusive of 1978, Hawthorn finished top three in five consecutive seasons. It won premierships in 1976 and 1978, then missed finals for three seasons, before beginning another glorious era with another top-three placing in 1982.
The Bulldogs play West Coast at Optus Stadium next Sunday.
The Dees aren't any better...
While the Bulldogs have a litany of problems, there are even more at Melbourne.
Max Gawn would be the only Demon in 2019 who could be happy with his form, and he is such a team player that he would refuse himself the comfort of actually feeling that way.
Have no idea what has happened to Clayton Oliver this season. Angus Brayshaw won't be finishing third in the Brownlow like last year. No one in the entire competition tries harder than Jack Viney, but he is having little impact on outcomes. Christian Petracca, far from the worst against GWS on Sunday, hasn't stepped up.
Injuries and off-season setbacks might have destroyed the 2019 season before it began.
But this year, coming off a preliminary final in 2018, now borders on being labelled disastrous.
... and nor are the Bombers
Injuries are at crisis point, and a second consecutive season is virtually over before the halfway point.
That's Essendon's plight after round 10. It is a mess, and there aren't many excuses.
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Joe Daniher and Dev Smith are out for the year. Orazio Fantasia seemingly can never get a proper crack at displaying his prodigious ability. And now Jake Stringer and Dylan Shiel have damaged hamstrings.
The Bombers have done so much right in recent years, after the disgrace of the drugs program of 2012.
But winning crucial games of football is not one of those things. They were OK against Richmond on Saturday night, but this was a season in which they were meant to be better than OK.
Scores are tied and there's one kick left...
You're asked the question: which player would you want to have the ball in hand for an after-siren kick to win a game of football?
Michael Walters, the guy who had it when that scenario actually happened at Optus Stadium on Sunday night, would be a smart pick but he would be the No.2 answer behind his teammate, veteran match-winner David Mundy.
Walters, a now-established genuine AFL A-grader, took the responsibility of kicking the Sherrin 49 metres. His kick hit the post, but with scores level when he took his mark, that was all that was required to defeat the impressively gallant Brisbane.
Don't underestimate what he did. More than 60 per cent of the game's players would have had their kick fall short, or be sprayed. And another 20 per cent would've kicked a ball that would've only just made the distance.
This was a fantastic game. It might just give the Dockers the impetus to now make a finals berth a certainty.
And it also might just give the Lions the confidence to know that a top-four berth is achievable.
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Does Gaz get a ban? Not if history is a guide
If the Match Review Officer and the Tribunal had decreed that Gary Ablett's hits on Dylan Shiel and Sam Wright were not worthy of suspension, then there is no way he can be outed for his Saturday night hit on the Suns' Anthony Miles.
In assessing the Miles hit, you can't factor in Ablett's Shiel and Wright moments. It needs to be judged in isolation, and based on what the AFL bodies have confusingly determined in 2019, it is not worthy of match-day sanction.
Will Gary Ablett have anything to answer for here? pic.twitter.com/Ses7oT8pQc— AFL.com.au (@AFLcomau) May 25, 2019
Where to now for Scott and the Kangas?
Good luck, Rhyce Shaw.
Shaw's first match as caretaker coach of North Melbourne is as tough as it gets – versus Richmond in the marquee Friday night slot.
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Following Brad Scott's exit as Roos coach, Shaw will be in charge of 12 matches, matches which will become almost a disruption to the club as it now sets out to review every single position in the club.
As always when a coach departs, there are more questions than answers with the Roos. Not with how Scott's departure actually played out, but why the Roos' board opted to re-contract him just 32 matches ago, only to mutually arrive at a decision last Friday that the next season and a half were not persevering with.
The key part of the review should actually be of the board itself, and how it allowed some of the game's biggest name footballers – Dusty Martin, Josh Kelly, Jordan De Goey included – to be offered some of the biggest financial deals in the history of the game, without success.
Scott is not guaranteed a senior job next year, but he is now in pole position to negotiate on the jobs that are likely to become vacant – Carlton and St Kilda. And the other one which is looming as a strong possibility – Essendon.
North Melbourne is not guaranteed to get their main man into its senior job next season, but it, too, is in pole position to offer massive contracts to the best candidates – Alastair Clarkson, John Longmire and Adam Simpson the main targets.
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Should those approaches fail, Sam Mitchell should come sharply into focus.
Watch out for the quiet achievers in the west
Four wins in a row. Next opponent, the 13th-placed Western Bulldogs at home.
West Coast's premiership defence is going very nicely, and Nic Naitanui is to return soon.
The Eagles' final 10 minutes against a very good Adelaide at Adelaide Oval was the surest sign yet that the are still the team to beat in 2019.