What went right?
Two wins, 20 losses and a sub 60 percentage is the worst record that any living Carlton supporter has had to endure. On the bright side Charlie Curnow, in just his third season, showed that he is destined to be one of the premier forwards of the competition.
Zach Fisher surprised many with his development in just his second season with his speed, agility and attack on the football, Carlton have found a gem in the young Western Australian taken at pick 27 in the 2016 draft.Harry McKay was able to establish his position in the senior side for the second half of the season and show Carlton fans enough of his immense potential to be confident he has what it takes and justify his selection at 10 in the 2015 draft.
After a tough season blues fans should be excited about the prospect of Harry and Charlie forming a dynamic partnership as their key forwards for the next decade.
What went wrong?
2017 saw Carlton get great service from their veteran players. Sam Docherty, Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer, Bryce Gibbs and Kade Simpson were all exceptional.
Jacob Weitering, Caleb Marchbank, Jarrod Pickett, David Cuningham, Tom Williamson, Lachie Plowman, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Matthew Kennedy are all young players with a ton of talent, however through injury, interrupted preseasons or otherwise, none of this group progressed to the level which many Carlton fans would have hoped. 2019 will be an important year for this group to establish themselves as consistent AFL players.
Patrick Cripps was the clear standout player for the Blues in 2018. At times he played a lone hand in willing the club to competitiveness. He led the competition in contested possessions, with the most ever in a season, and also finished 7th overall in tackles and 4th overall in Champion Data ranking points.
Never has there been such a collective sigh of relief than that which emanated from 56,000 Carlton members upon news that he had signed on until the end of 2021.
There are only two to chose from, but beating Essendon is always a source of immense joy for Carlton fans. One small consolation prize from this season is the knowledge that Bombers fans are looking back at their loss to the Blues as the one that cost them a finals appearance in 2018.
What they need to improve in 2019?
Carlton fans would be happy with what SOS has done over trade week and at the draft table to date, however this off-season looms as possibility the biggest since he took the reigns. With Pick 1, the possibility of a priority pick as well as two second round picks (the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide’s) and a rumoured $3 Million of salary cap space, there’s some serious scope to get some much needed talent and experience through the door. The challenge will be convincing opposition players to join a team that was not competitive in 2018 and in the middle of a rebuild (with with no end date in sight).
Carlton need high end quality midfielders. Cripps is A grade and there are some promising youngsters in SPS, Paddy Dow, Lachie O’Brien, Zac Fisher and Matt Kennedy. However with Murphy in the twilight of his career, a ready made A grade player such as a Dylan Shiel or Andrew Gaff would do wonders for 2019 campaign. Sam Walsh and Bailey Smith are two midfielders Carlton’s recruitment team will have watched closely in the TAC this year. No doubt, the likes of Adam Cerra, Will Setterfield and Will Brodie will also have been asked if they would like to move back to Victoria and wear navy blue.
After midfield depth Carltons other pressing need is a dangerous crumbling forward. Matt Wright is a solid citizen but not quick enough to worry opponents and Pickett looks more suited to a role up the ground, leaving a need for a quality goal sneak with the ability to apply forward pressure.
With only two wins, Carlton can not look at this year as a pass.
Getting games into Paddy Dow, Lochie O’brien and blooding Tom DeKonning has been a silver lining, but blues fans will be looking for some on field improvement…fast!
Grade – E