After the siren, my mind was overloaded with what I wanted to say. I had not written anything regarding the game against Adelaide, as I wanted to wait and see the outcome of this game against Freo. From being a game that I would watch on TV as it was originally going to be in WA, this moved to a game that I could attend, and was a great bonus for us Victorian’s.
Where I sat gave me a great view of the field as a whole and, therefore, the game as a whole. The next day, as I had taped the game, I watched it again. Irrespective of what others may think, we have definitely taken a few steps forward in our gameplay from that pitiful one against WCE. I was asking myself during the game and after watching it, is what has been the change, the difference between the WCE game to now? After re-watching the game again, I concluded that it boiled down to one single factor, and it is one that I cannot see any other reason. Prove me wrong, but this is my view.
For me, it came down to allowing those players who we know have the talent and ability to be major players in the team more freedom to actually play their game, their way. I remember Teague saying when he took over the group to allow players to play their natural game. For some reason, and this is where I see the difference, is that these players, such as Paddy Dow, Matt Kennedy, Nic Newman, SPS, etc have not really taken that jump from being mediocre to more substantial. It was as if something hindered their growth. In the past two games, we have seen a big jump in their game.
Why? Well, look at the scenario that has been placed since the bye. John Barker resigned as an assistant coach and our stoppages coach. Luke Power took over. Now he took over, and his presence and impact on our players was not really on display against WCE. No matter what or who, it will take a little bit of time to impact a group. The way the team played against Adelaide was a step in the right direction. Sure it was against a team that is struggling, but so were we. Sure there were brain-fades during the game, and we did not play four quarters, but the intensity was there; not at every minute of the game, but it was there. And the team, even with their backs against the wall, did not give up. That is a step forward. Now, all we had to do was bring that same intensity to the game against Freo.
We came out fighting from the very first bounce, and while Freo’s goal shots were lacking, and at times our abilities to score under pressure was also lacking, we did not give up when our backs were again, against the wall. Sure again, there were brain-fades during the match but if you watch the last quarter, how we stood up and did not give in is a testament to taking more steps forward.
Why is it that the team’s mindset has changed? To my mind, it has to be the influence of Luke Power instead of John Barker. Now I have met John Barker a few times, and he is a really lovely guy with a great smile, but I never really thought he was senior-coach material. I actually think he would be a better administrator than a coach. Yes, he did ok when he took over from Bolts and put his hand up for contention at Carlton and other teams, yet no one selected him. Why? Well, for me, it is because while he knows the game and loves it, his expertise doesn’t really lie in that side of the game. For me, this is the only difference between the last two games. You may have a different view, and that is fine. Let me know.
On a side note, while I do not like singling out players, good or bad, as there are so many other voices out there that do that, I would like to mention Levi Casboult. Some people do not understand that even though he never really came good until the last quarter, he is vital to the team right now. The reason is we have a young, emerging ruck talent in Tom De Koning, but he is still very young and inexperienced; that is why we have Marc Pittonet and our newest mid-season recruit Alex Mirkov. With both these players out with injury, we cannot let the role of number one ruck be put on the shoulders of a player that still needs more development, hence, Levi Casboult. Irrespective of what you think of him, he is vital to our team right now. We cannot let Jack Silvagni nor Crippa take that role of backup ruckman. So ask yourselves this – who else other than Levi Casboult?
I will state this again, I firmly believe that David Teague is the coach for the Carlton FC. Otherwise, why would players such as Harry McKay and Patrick Cripps re-sign? But I believe, and this is where I have based my theory, it is in the assistant coaches that we need to ensure that we get only the very best. Luke Power seems to have instilled since he took over a more grittier and intense playing mindset since the bye. It took one game of, well, poor play for the team to then change their attitude and get that backup from the coaches. It has shown in the past two games; now we need to see that this weekend. We can do it. We may step backwards sometimes, but we are taking the proper steps forward. We can see this; the team has shown this.
P.S. On the “chatter” regarding Clarko. An email has been sent to Hawthorn members from their President and he has stated that unlike other clubs, they will not terminate a coach’s contract during the contract terms. He categorically stated that “we do not break contracts.” Hopefully this will put to rest this talk of getting rid of Teague after being in the role for only one and half years. His contract ends next year, let’s not keep going down the path of our past and stick with a person who I believe will be successful. Put it another way: neither Crippa nor Hazza would have re-signed if they did not believe in their coach. We have to do the same.