AFL 2020: Melbourne – Five Fearless Predictions

Fixxer has the task of predicting what lies in store for the Dees in 2020.

2019 In a Nutshell

The 2019 season was an unmitigated disaster from the start of the Demons campaign, which some said started with the failure to review the Preliminary Final loss to the Eagles in Perth. Coaching staff and players were apparently happy to put the game down to an aberration instead of looking for reasons for the loss. Something which in hindsight didn’t reflect well on the club and added much fuel to a media throng that piled on as the losses added up early in the season and continued on throughout the year.

It was a campaign that left supporters and the football world with a massive unanswered question. Was this a team ravaged by off surgeries, or was this a group of individuals who read their own press and didn’t put in the necessary work to rediscover their 2018 form. One thing is for certain, the Demons went from a side that would bowl over their own grandma to win the footy to a group who looked like complete strangers and hadn’t played together before.

For a club that has consistently been inconsistent, 2018 was it’s greatest masterpiece in terms of leaving their supporters and the football public absolutely dumbfounded with their performances.

Check out our Fearless Predictions for the other AFL clubs here.

Playing List 2020

1. Steven May, 2. Nathan Jones, 3. Christian Salem, 4. James Harmes, 5. Christian Petracca, 6. Luke Johnson, 7. Jack Viney, 8. Jake Lever, 9. Charlie Spargo, 10. Angus Brayshaw, 11. Max Gawn, 12. Tob Belford, 13. Clayton Oliver, 14. Michael Hibberd, 15. Ed Langdon, 16, Kade Kolodjashnij, 18. Jake Melksham, 19. Mitch Hannan, 20. Adam Tomlinson, 21. Braydon Preuss, 22. Aaron Vandenberg, 23. James Jordon, 24. Trent Rivers, 25. Tom McDonald, 26. Sam Weideman, 27. Aaron Nietschke, 28. Oscar McDonald, 29. Jayden Hunt, 30. Alex Neal-Bullen, 31. Bayley Fritsch, 32. Tom Sparrow, 33. Oskar Baker, 34. Marty Hore, 35. Harrison Petty, 36. Kysaiah Pickett, 37. Kade Chander, 38. Mitch Brown, 39. Neville Jetta, 40. Corey Wagner, 41. Jay Lockhart, 42. Josh Wagner, 44. Joel Smith, 46. Austin Bradtke, 48. Kyle Dunkley.

Ins: Adam Tomlinson (GWS), Ed Langdon (Fremantle), Luke Jackson (East Fremantle), Kysaiah Kropinyeri-Pickett (Woodville West Torrens), Trent Rivers (East Fremantle), Mitch Brown (Essendon), Harley Bennell (Fremantle).

Outs: Sam Frost, Jeff Garlett, Declan Kelty, Jay Kennedy Harris, Jordan Lewis, Corey Maynard, Tim Smith, Billy Stretch, Guy Walker.

The Fixture

Rd 1West CoastAOSSat 6.20pm
Rd 2GWSHMCGSat 1.45pm
Rd 3FremantleHMCGSun 1.10pm
Rd 4St KildaAMSSun 4.40pm
Rd 5Gold CoastAMetriconSat 1.10pm
Rd 6RichmondHMCGFri 7.55pm
Rd 7EssendonAMCGSun 3.20pm
Rd 8Port AdelaideHMCGSun 3.20pm
Rd 9AdelaideHTIOSun 3.20pm
Rd 10BulldogsHMCGSun 1.10pm
Rd 11HawthornAMCGFri 7.50pm
Rd 12CollingwoodHMCGMon 3.20pm
Rd 13BYE
Rd 14BrisbaneAGabbaFri 7.50pm
Rd 15Gold CoastHMCGSat 1.45pm
Rd 16FremantleAOSSun 5.20pm
Rd 17St Kilda HMCGSat 1.45pm
Rd 18AdelaideAAOSun 4.40pm
Rd 19GeelongAGMHBASat 4.35pm
Rd 20SydneyHMCGSun 3.20pm
Rd 21CollingwoodAMCGSat 1.45pm
Rd 22CarltonHMCGSat 1.45pm
Rd 23North MelbourneABATBC

One of the few benefits of finishing 17th, is the easier draw the following year. The Demons have a draw that sees only Collingwood as a double game against a Top Eight side. Adelaide, St Kilda, Fremantle and Gold Coast are the other teams they face twice. They venture interstate six times (twice to Perth), have 13 games at the MCG and take the trip down the freeway to Geelong which has ended in tears many times over the last decade or two.

Be sure to check our who was selected as the Top Ten Demons of the 2010s.

Five Fearless Predictions

All Australian Selectors May Pull The Lever

If we are going to make fearless predictions, we may as well start aggressively in regards to the Demons. By seasons end, I am fearlessly predicting both S. May and J. Lever to be in the All Australian squad of 40, with one of them making the final team. It would be the first time since 2010 that a MFC key defender has made the team,  when James Frawley was named in a back pocket.

They both share lot’s of similarities, both recruited to shore up the leaky MFC defence, both on good salaries and both struggled to play as many games as was needed. They both only played eight games each in 2019 and both struggled for continuity and consistency for the duration. With Nev Jetta injured most of the year the backline lacked composure and confidence.

The trading of Sam Frost, who was erratic and chaotic, and the opportunities in season 2020 to bed down a consistent back six will allow these two more time to gel and work together. Most Melbourne fans would love to see these two play 19+ games each. Hoping for this, as well as the time devoted to bagging Oscar McDonald on social media, and everyday life, is a very taxing affair.

The Weed to Succeed

Sam Weideman looked destined for a breakout season in 2019 after a faultless first final (24 disposals, 3 Goals) against the Cats the previous year. It wasn’t to be and although different injuries hampered him at times, combined with no Jesse Hogan and a below-par Tom McDonald, he never played consistent enough football to propel him to the next level.

He has only played 31 games which isn’t a great deal for a key forward and has a really solid skill set to improve and improve quickly. He is an accurate shot for goal, he has a very high work rate, and he is prepared to crash packs. What he didn’t have in 2019 was a reliable body that was battle-hardened, a mid field who could accurately hit him and he had low confidence. If several of these deficiencies can be addressed, the youngster could improve and improve very quickly.

Rivers Ready 

Melbourne decided to trade for the now, forgoing a first round pick in 2020 to hit the 2019 draft with certainty. They got a ruckman with Jackson (3), a lively forward in Kropinyeri-Pickett (12) and a lad called Trent Rivers (32).

Rivers will initially start his career at halfback before potentially moving into the midfield. Jackson has untapped potential who may take time before he fully makes the level whilst Kropinyeri-Pickett has a highlights package to die for and should replicate this at the top level in different forms. Rivers whoever looks like the real blue-chip investment that could walk into their best 22 and have a role and a position straight up.

Melbourne have relied on having Salem as the elite kick coming out of the back half. Problem is, they need him on a wing as well, or a position where one on one defence isn’t as critical and he can become an offensive weapon. By having Rivers learn his trade in the back half he can release Selem to play further up the ground, something most of the Melbourne forwards would be delighted with. This kid may be a pick 32, but don’t be surprised if he shortens in Rising Star betting as the season progresses.

Hold the Phones, no Jones

A small portion of fans had written Nathan Jones off in Season 2019, a number which had increased significantly as the season went on, as both his form and that of his club declined. Jones was tried in a number of positions, Forward, Back, Wing.

He’s not a goal kicker, not great overhead and doesn’t tackle well enough (15 games he had 2 tackles or less, 3 games had none) to be a permanent forward. He is starting to lose his speed to play as a wingman, and also is not renowned for his kicking. By playing on a wing also caused an imbalance in the midfield this year, and helped in a small way to decrease the output of Angus Brayshaw. As a back he didn’t have the support around him to allow him to be a rebounding defender.

The question then is, where does he fit into the best 22? He is a player that could sit in the raft of “depth players” that Melbourne currently has. As is with depth players at each club yearly, some take big steps forward and some go backwards. The amount of football the ex-skipper plays could be reliant on the steps these mid-tiers players take.

Players along the lines of Spargo, Hannan, Vandenburg, Hunt, Sparrow, Baker, Hore, Petty, Chandler, Lockhart, Wagner times  2, Dunkley and Smith. The development of these players may have an impact on whether Jones can get opportunities and maintain them. It looks as if this season may be shaping up as his last.

Heat in the coaching box

One thing is for sure, if the Dee’s start the year like they did last year, Simon Goodwin will be nervous. Touching up the CV nervous.

The jury is still out on whether he can coach or whether he can’t coach, and if he can’t coach the media will come for him and come for him hard. Nothing excites the AFL media more than some blood in the water. West Coast round one and GWS round two loom as very very crucial for Simon Goodwin and his duration in the top job at the MFC.

Which Demons made the cut for Melbourne’s Team of the 2010s.

Where will they finish?

An educated guess here, 1st-18th and anything in between sound plausible? Predicting where Melbourne will finish this year is not for the faint-hearted. They are consistently inconsistent and most people would be advised to stay away from the task. We need to come up with something to round out this article, so the conclusion is 7th-11th, a prediction that should be written as a SnapChat so after 6 seconds it disappears and is never seen again….

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