Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Why Carlton can't win the flag
We already know 2012 is a write off for Carlton. Firstly they are 7 wins and 8 losses with the following 7 games to go:
R17: Western Bulldogs, Etihad Stadium - The Dogs shouldn't get close to the Blues because they are young, developing and have no forward line. So that's a win for the Blues, just.
R18: Richmond, MCG - The Tigers, ignoring a woeful 30 secs (and first half) against the Suns, have been improving all year. I expect an undermanned Blues side with no Judd, no Walker, a doubtful Waite (as always), no Simpson, not to be good enough.
R19: Sydney, Etihad Stadium - Best team in the comp right at this moment versus the the Blues? Wouldn't matter if this was played at the G where the Swans can't play.
R20: Brisbane Lions, Etihad Stadium - This one should be a win. With a bit of luck Simpson returns, but the Lions have been showing good signs. And frankly even suggesting that the Lions could beat the Blues in Melbourne really shows you how badly the Blues are going.
R21: Essendon, MCG - Essendon have been improving this year (and no I still don't rate them seriously) and they'll have some players back in four weeks. Quite simply they are a class above the Blues at the moment, so another loss.
R22: Gold Coast, Metricon Stadium - Win. Really no excuse.
R23: St Kilda, Etihad Stadium - Saints should be fighting for a spot in the 8 in this last game and the Blues, well at 10-11 going into this one, they won't be. They'll be on holidays.
So there you go, 3-4 from the last 7 to finish 10-12 is my call for the Blues. They need it to become 5-2 to get the minimum 12 wins to get into the finals and that is not going to happen.
So that is the rest of this year summed up, but what about the future? A long time ago I said the Blues won't win a flag whilst Judd is at the club. It was a touch and go call because this is Judd's 5th year at the Blues. I have always said a club is only ever 5 years away from being a real chance to win a flag, but it takes everything to go right, from coaching, the players, recruiting and of course a bucketload of luck. The thing is the Blues, right now, aren't any closer than 5 years from a flag chance and Juddy will be gone by then. So why aren't they any closer to that? Because they've pretty much stuffed up everything they needed to go right.
Sadly for the Blues, Brett Ratten isn't a great head coach. First he tried to continue Pagan's kick it to Fev gameplan (adopted from Pagan's paddock with a certain W. Carey), but gameplan A was forced to change due to Fev finally being booted from the club for being a twat. So instead he went to the small forward line with Betts, Garlett and Yarran. Of the three Betts has been excellent, Yarran was booted to the half back line (essentially for Walker) and Garlett continues to be a flashy player of no substance. Next was to try playing ruckman out of position as forwards. Ruckman don't make KPP forwards. Everyone knows it. The last good one was Salmon, although arguably Clark has shown some signs and Tippet who was more of a legit forward part time ruck has also done well, but Kreuzer, Hampson and to a lesser extent because he doesn't play there that often, Warnock, are not forwards.
In the middle Ratten doesn't seem to offer much and lets Judd, Simpson, Murphy and Carrazzo just go get the pill. No big coaching nous there.
And down back? Some may argue Henderson has been a revelation, and that Yarran has been fantastic but the reality is both failed in the positions where they were earmarked and end up being shunted down back. Yes, they've been good but its not coaching brilliance, more desperation.
This season Ratt's has been cruelled by injury to key players (there are precious few of those going around - see below) and they didn't have the depth to cover them so what could have been a top 8 finish will end somewhere south of that.
There is no doubt Carlton has some outright guns: Judd (although he is waning), Simpson, Murphy, Carrazzo (perhaps Ratten's one credible coaching performance, but I'm backing Carrazzo's work ethic instead) and Scotland. Waite misses out because he never plays. And some fine middle range players in Waite, Betts, Walker, Yarran, Duigan, Henderson, Jamison (although his durability is killing him) and Laidler. But its the next rank that is absent. There just isn't much left.
What about Kreuzer and Gibbs, you ask? Well Kreuzer has shown promise, but not delivered. He is slow, can't play as a forward and doesn't get enough hit outs. Frankly he is the Josh Fraser pick, but more on that later. And Gibbs? Well he is the worst number 1 pick since Fraser. Soft, outside, with great skills but he doesn't back himself and takes no risks, nor does he win the hard ball. He is a receiver, who once he gets it takes the lowest of low risk options. You might guess that I don't rate him in the slightest. In a good side he may well be half decent, but not in a middling side going nowhere.
The rest are proven C grade players like Lucas, Warnock, Hampsen, Armfield, Russell, McClean, Robinson, Bower and Ellard or unproven kids.
A good team needs 22 players who can contribute. When fit Carlton gives 12 (14 if you include Kreuzer and Gibbs). What this club doesn't have, is depth. You cannot carry 8 players (at best) into your best 22.
Of dear, oh dear, coaching is one thing but the players you recruit can keep you in a job or usher you out the door. Carlton's recruiting since Ratten came on board hasn't been great:
National Draft Pick 1 Kreuzer - the big ones take time so they say, well 82 games in and he's sure taking it. Too slow, and doesn't get his hands on it enough. Josh Fraser was also a rated ruck and number 1 pick. He was fundamentally a poor choice. Solid (and I'm being generous) as a ruck, decent around the grounds and eventually traded to the Suns when he was going to be delisted.
ND 36 Steven Browne, cut
ND 46 Denis Armfield, 76 games of utter mediocrity
Pre season draft Darren Pfieffer cut after 7 games and just this year picked up by Port where he is doing reasonably well (in a crap team)
Rookie draft, Aaron Joesph - a serviceable depth player playing in the best 22.
Rookie, David Ellard is still at the club, and he's really not very good. Not very good at all. There aren't too many lists he would be on.
ND 6 Yarran - They've done ok with him. He isn't an A grader but he's generally a solid half back flanker. At least he's a keeper.
ND 40 Robinson - He is hard at it, but really that's all he is. A player like Robinson shouldn't be an autoselection in a best 22, yet he is at Carlton. He should be depth only.
ND 65 Rhys O'Keefe - who? 1 game and still at the club and in his 4th year and he's just a mid-sized player.
PSD Chris Johnston - Demons reject (for good reason). No longer on list
Rookie - Jeff Garlett - downhill skier, flash in the pan, pretty much shouldn't be playing.
Rookie - Sam Jacobs - laughably the best player drafted in the whole period and they traded him because he wanted to go home. They couldn't even convince him to stay.
Yet again 3 ND picks, and only Pick 12 Kane Lucas is of any note. And he's rubbish.
The rookies read even worse, but at least they got Zach Tuohy as an international and he's actually ok and shows some promise.
This is only their second year on the list so a bit harsh to judge them but their first pick, Matthew Watson at 18 looks to have the makings of a solid KPP defender. And Nick Duigan was actually a bit of genius for pick 70. He's aggressive and busts his gut. Not the most talented but knows how to do a job.
Way too early to call.
So out of all that they have Kreuzer, who has all the makings of a spud, Yarran, Tuohy and Duigan, with Watson as potential. Not a lot to show for 4 years (excluding 2011).
But drafts are only half the story, the comedy continues with trading!
Saw the epic Judd deal. They got Juddy who has be magnificent and the only thing they had for a long time who could actually be called a leader, but gave up Josh Kennedy, a young KPP forward prospect. Why? Because they had Fev, and Fev was flying! Such wonderful short sightedness. This trade epitomises everything that is Carlton, quick fix immediate results. Can't recall a team that won a flag like that. Yes they got a star and a captain and he won an undeserved Brownlow (should have been rubbed up for an elbow to Pavlich's face), but they traded away their future and ironically the one thing that right now is their biggest hole, a KPP forward.
Not only did they lose Kennedy, but picks 3 and 20! With pick 3 they could have got Masten, McEvoy, Dangerfield, Rioli, Ward, Rance, or Grimes....
They brought Warnock over from Freo and once again traded picks, the main one was 24, the other two over 50. With 24 they could have got Redden, Shiels, Beams or Hanneberry (the rising star winner)
Warnock has proved to be a frustration. He's still young, but he looks an old school ruck with not a huge amount of mobility (although handy enough in the middle) but his biggest issue is that he breaks too often. And how does he fit with Kreuzer and Hampsen? They all don't fit and that is yet another problem.
Wonderful year for comedy 2011. Brock McClean for pick 11. That still cracks me up. A slow inside mid who had injury issues, not exactly the prototypical midfielder for the quicker paced style sweeping the AFL. Pick 11 could have netted them Talia, Lewis Jetta, Mezel, Fyfe or Bastinac.
The comedy continued with a bit of brilliance from the Carlton footy club. The managed to offload Fev after one too many indiscretions. And they got pick 12 (wasted on Kane Lucas) and Lachie Henderson, who I've already mentioned above as a handy, promising sort. Of course with no Fev, they have no KPP fwds other than the permanently broken Jarrad Waite who has played just 34 games in the almost three years since Fev left.
Another comedic year from the Blues, this time losing the best player drafted in the Ratten era, Sam Jacobs for a couple of crappy picks, 33 and 67.
The hilarity didn't stop there, because they trade Shaun Grigg who has now blossomed at Richmond for Andrew Collins who hasn't done much of anything at Carlton.
To be fair they picked up Laidler from Geelong for a pittance, and he has shown some nice signs.
In 2011 they finally learned their lesson and didn't trade. Although funnily if they tried to trade Gibbs they may have made out like bandits.
So here we are at the end of a long winded analysis of why Carlton can't win the flag. They've stuffed up coaching, recruiting and their list is by and large rubbish with no depth. You can't win a flag without depth.
And one final word, so how can they get better? Well getting a new coach is a start, probably getting a fresh administration or at least some fresh faces, would be helpful as they would hopefully provide a different outlook and break the boys club that Sticks has assembled.
With a new coach comes a bloody big broom. Get rid of the crap, and trade what you can for legitimate talent or high draft picks. Oh and get some decent recruiting staff!
Do that and then you can start the clock...5 years and counting.