Last year in a nutshell
Things could not have gone worse for Carlton on field in 2018, the club won only two games on the way to claiming their fifth wooden spoon since 2002. They struggled to be competitive in most games, the game plan was not clear, injuries delayed development to key youngsters and general positives were hard to find.
But the Blues have a plan, and unlike the last “rebuild” under Brett Ratten they are not wavering from their course of action.
Best 22 and 2019 List Changes
FB – Newman – Jones – Simpson
HB – Williamson – Weitering – Marchbank
C – Murphy – Cripps – Fisher
R – Kreuzer – E Curnow – M Kennedy
HF – Setterfield – C Curnow – Dow
F – McGovern – McKay – Fasolo
B – Plowman, Walsh, J Silvagni, Petrevski-Seton
Emg O’Brien, Stocker, Thomas
Ins & Outs:
Mitch McGovern (Adelaide)
Will Setterfield (GWS Giants)
Nic Newman (Sydney)
Alex Fasolo (Collingwood)
1 – Sam Walsh (Geelong Falcons)
19 – Liam Stocker (Sandringham Dragons)
66 – Finbar O’Dwyer (Yarrawonga)
70 – Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh Chargers)
Hugh Goddard (St Kilda), Tom Bugg (Melbourne)
Jesse Glass-McCasker, Nick Graham, Sam Kerridge, Jed Lamb, Aaron Mullett, Cameron O’Shea, Sam Rowe, Matthew Shaw, Ciaran Byrne, Cillian McDaid, Alex Silvagni, Matthew Wright
Five Fearless Predictions
The much published 66 game rebuild has come to its conclusion. The club has since gone to 4 drafts heavily targeting young talent while also trading in value GWS youngsters Matt Kennedy, Will Setterfield, Lachie Plowman, Caleb Marchbank and Jarrod Pickett.
Brendan Bolton has so far been unanimously backed by the players, head office, board and supporters, however if there is no improvement in 2019 Bolts will start to feel the pressure. The green shoots need to start flowering and the game plan needs to become more user friendly as many players appeared unsure and without direction for most of 2018. The club has been deliberate in their communications to not weigh themselves down in expectation and have refused to put forward a win total they would consider acceptable, but anything less than 6 would have the club questioning if Bolton is their man.
Prediction – Bolton must win 6 games to keep his job
Midfield to Become a Strength
Patrick Cripps aside, Carlton’s engine room was a glaring weakness last season with the loss of Gibbs and injury plagued Murphy and Kreuzer forcing the blues to rely heavily on underdone youngsters.
Widely considered Carlton’s weak point a closer look at their list reveals the formation of a strong on ball congregation. Old hands Ed Curnow and Marc Murphy are enjoying unimpeded preseasons while a young core of talent will evolve around them.
2013 – Patrick Cripps – Pick 13
2015 – Matthew Kennedy – Pick 13
2016 – Will Setterfield – Pick 5
2016 – Sam Petrevski Seton – Pick 6
2016 – Zac Fisher – Pick 27
2017 – Paddy Dow – Pick 3
2017 – Lachie O’Brien – Pick 10
2018 – Sam Walsh – Pick 1
2018 – Liam Stocker – Pick 19
While the midfield group is young and perhaps a couple of years away from hitting the peak of their careers, 2019 will be a season that Carlton’s midfield transitions from their weakness to their strength.
Prediction – Drastic midfield improvement
The Rise of Harry McKay
Bolton frustrated Carlton fans who could not make heads or tails of why the top 10 pick from 2015 was not getting any opportunities at senior level. Harry showed fans glimpses of his prodigious talent from round 17 onwards where he made his way back into the senior side, finishing the season with 21 goals from 13 games. The offseason has given Mckay the opportunity to grow into his body and his form on the training track has everyone at the club extremely optimistic.
The trio of Harry Mckay, Charlie Curnow and Mitch McGovern will certainly cause headaches for opposition defences.
Prediction – Harry McKay to kick 35 goals
Depth to be Tested
Blue hearts broke in unison at the news of Sam Docherty doing his second ACL. The importance of Docherty to the Carlton backline cannot be understated nor can it be replaced.
The blues will also be without highly rated junior Jarrod Pickett for most of the season after suffering a knee injury at training. Things have continued to get worse for the blues over the preseason with veteran Ruckmen Matthew Kreuzer requiring knee surgery, forward Alex Fasolo breaking his arm in dubious circumstances and Tom Williamson on light duties due to further complaints with his back, all in doubt to be available for selection round one. While Mitch McGovern, Caleb Marchbank, Darcy Lang, Liam Jones, Lachie Plowman and Will Setterfield have all been on light duties throughout the preseason.
It certainly had not been a dream run for newly appointment former Hawks fitness guru Andrew Russell, however the players that have dodged injury have been quick to sing his praises.
Similar to last year, as a young side, Carlton will be particularly susceptible to dropping away if they suffer key injuries.
Prediction – Carlton will not win games if the list is not healthy
Draft night saw list manager Stephen Silvagni double down on his list with a blockbuster trade under the leagues new rules.
Carlton received pick 19 from Adelaide and drafted Morrish medallist Liam Stocker, in return they agreed to swap their future first round pick with the Crows.
There are many variables to play out to determine who the winner of this trade is, but seeing as the blues rated Stocker as the 6th best player in the draft they will be confident he will offset the difference of the pick swap the following season, with many tipping the Crows to challenge the top 4 while most would have Carlton finishing in the bottom 4, the deal is not without risk.
SOS has been bold, stubborn and unwavering in his rebuild of the Carlton list since returning to the club in 2015, his staunch defence of the club and its direction on footy classified filled depleted Carlton supporters will pride and hope and this trade is yet another audacious move by the full back of the century.
Prediction – Carlton to be big winners of the “Stocker” trade