Being a Melbourne supporter in season 2020 has so far followed a similar trend to that of the past 20 years. High hopes, new recruits to fill deficiencies and young kids taken in the draft offer plenty of optimism over the pre season.
Then round one comes and the feeling of disappointment, sorrow, anger and then finally acceptance that you support a club that thrives on building you up and then tearing you down. The anger from the supporters this year has been palpable and the pressure on the coach more so than i have seen in my time. This is largely due to the supporter base believing the list is in a pretty reasonable place to make finals, something rarely seen in recent times.
The anger has resonated from two key points, one, the game plan or lack there of has been evident in all games played. The second point that has supporters in a huff is the selection of the team each week that has left everyone scratching their head.
A loss against the Gold Coast would have the media getting the blow torch out on the club, and in particular the coach. And, for the first time this year, the coach made decisions that impacted the performance. Bringing in Oscar MacDonald, regular whipping boy but a tall key back to allowed Lever to do his thing and be a intercept marker and drop off defender. It also helped take the pressure off May instead of having an undersized defender in Joel Smith playing on talls.
Bringing in Bennell for class and decision making as well as his presence having a good effect on the moral and vibe around the playing group. Having Sam Weideman as a mobile big target who attacks a contest took pressure off McDonald (until injured) and straightened them up. And finally, they started to look a lot better. Not world beaters but improved and injecting some much needed confidence.
The next issue that needs addressing is around the contest. They need to extend their possession ring around the contest. They have all these competitive bulls, inside animals, they need to spread the ball wider from the contest and give the ball user time to make the right decisions. If they can use the Bennells, Lockharts, and Hannan types and get the ball in the hands of the better users they can improve and improve quickly. As a Melbourne supporter, improvement is not usually something that happens quickly.