WITH the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership season racing to a conclusion, Damian Barrett's Sliding Doors is really heating up.

So what's Damo saying about your club? What's he saying about the AFL? You can't say that, Damo, can you?

Oh, and be sure you tune in to AFL Daily as Nat and Damo put the spotlight on all the big issues. Check it out.

IF ...

Tom Lynch and Daniel Talia are both not playing with other AFL clubs in 2022 ...

THEN ...

I will be very surprised. Both could slot very nicely into premiership-building outfits.

IF ..

the Lions finished the home-and-away season a clear second in 2020 and may not make the top four this year ...

THEN ...

weirdly, they may still be in better shape. They are as collectively tough as any team, and have weathered bad injury and form setbacks. And Lachie Neale's body, for the first time this year, seems ready for some Brownlow-best showings. Can still win it. 

IF ...

it wasn't for the confusion and stress being felt by every person in the Carlton football department over the Blues' board-commissioned review ...

THEN ...

proper celebration could have been afforded Eddie Betts in his farewell to footy. This club's board has been a mess for 20 years, its failure to publicly protect its own people during this review another sorry chapter. Some things never change. And Teague was right to call it out on Thursday.

05:38 Mins
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Teague fires back at Blues leaders, Scott's finals preference

Mitch Cleary with the latest news in your Thursday Footy Feed

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IF ...

I'm already referencing boards in disarray ...

THEN ...

no need to stop here. The many problems with this one will be put to a vote at a meeting on December 16, where Jeff Browne will be seeking to overthrow Mark Korda and six other directors.

Former Channel Nine managing director Jeff Browne: Picture: Screenshot

IF ...

I'm to continue with the board theme ...

THEN ...

this club finally got its act together last off-season. It too, held a review of footy operations, but managed to do it respectfully and internally and without Carlton-style unnecessary headlines and outside scrutiny. And now it is one win away from booking the most unlikely of finals berths.

IF ...

Derby No.53 is to become the Dockers' benchmark ...

THEN ...

a high-end finals position in 2022 beckons. Building extraordinarily nicely in the midfield, even if Cerra exits.

IF ...

in light of the shattering news that Tom Stewart would miss the remainder of the season the Cats wanted to channel some positivity ...

THEN ...

they could tune into the Crows of 1997 (no Modra in the Grand Final), the Tigers of 2019 (Rance broke down in round one and never played again), the Eagles of 2018 (no Nic Nat), the Dogs of 2016 (no Bob), and the Power of 2004 (no Primus).

IF ...

coaching the Suns may be the toughest gig in footy ...

THEN ...

that won't stop the scrutiny on Stuart Dew once this season is finished. Contracted for next year, but with four, three, five and seven (with one round to go) wins in his four seasons in charge, questions will be asked. Hope he gets one more season, but it may be line-ball.

IF ...

there's a lot the Giants have done right this year ...

THEN ...

there has also been a smattering of losses against teams they should've beaten. Now that they’ve done the really hard work, and with a finals place theirs if they beat the lowly Blues, surely they won't fall at the last home-and-away hurdle.

IF ...

Clarko's multi-faceted farewell tour as a Hawks coach is starting to rival James Hird's as a Bombers player ...

THEN ...

most brown and gold focus in this round 23 match should be on the other big-name departing Hawk, Shaun Burgoyne. Game No.407 to be the last of one of the grand careers.

IF ...

there are Demons supporters obsessed by omens ...

THEN ...

Saturday night's one-versus-two match against Geelong at the Cattery carries great importance. A win means the minor premiership. The last time that happened. 1964.

IF ...

Cam Zurhaar played for a bigger club ...

THEN ...

he would have received the proper acclaim for his ability. An outstanding talent with plenty of explosive upside to come.

IF ...

Mitch Georgiades bags six under the Friday night lights ...

THEN ...

that will make things interesting in NAB Rising Star voting. Demon Luke Jackson might have it locked away, but the Power kid has been very good in 2021, booting 32 goals. Has rare presence, and looms as an X-Factor in September.

IF ...

on Triple M on Friday August 13 you are directly asked: "Do you think you want to go on in 2022"? and you instantly reply with: "I'm 100 per cent sure I want to go on" ...

THEN ...

the decision announced publicly six days later not to play has clearly been made by others. And as always, Bachar Houli dealt with it with pure class.

IF ...

you look back to the corresponding time of 2020, with just one home-and-away match to play ...

THEN ...

the Saints had already banked nine wins. The same as 2021. The problem is that 2020 was a 17-match season, and another win came in the final game, then one more in a final. Season 2021 returned to 22 matches. Only way to describe this year: disappointing.

IF ...

upon entry to round 23 every other team in the eight can slide a position or two on the ladder ...

THEN ...

the Swans in sixth are the exception. Not that Horse will be coaching for anything other than a big win against the woeful Suns.

IF ...

the Lions missed their chance last year to make a Grand Final in a season in which it was played at their home ground ...

THEN ...

at least they made a preliminary final. Faced with a potentially similar possibility in 2021, the Eagles have been lamentable. Time for a significant re-set in attitude and game plan.

IF ...

there were concerns after the loss of Josh Bruce to injury and the game to Essendon in round 21, and alarm after the following week's defeat by Hawthorn ...

THEN ...

there will be mayhem and panic if a third straight loss comes against Port Adelaide. Bulldogs had been first or second on the ladder from round three to 21. Could still miss a finals double chance.

AND THIS ONE'S FOR THE AFL

IF ...

the bye has been removed from its pre-finals position on the footy calendar ...

THEN ...

there's now no need to wedge it into the finals series. Detailed conversations being had now about bringing the Grand Final forward a week, from Saturday September 25 to September 18.