If you were to sum up Melbourne’s year this year you would probably use the phrase “typically Melbourne”. Threatened at times. Looked good at times. But as they have a history of doing, they couldn’t deliver when they had to.
What went wrong?
The back to back losses against Fremantle and Sydney when the club was destined for finals was a terrible fortnight for the Demons. Winning one of those games would have seen them progress to the finals. The inability to find consistency and confidence in a game plan or structure week to week was ever present torment for Demons fans all year. Supporters and those in the media were left scratching their head as to which Melbourne would show up, and what they would dish up.
What went right?
The most positive thing to come out of the season for Melbourne was the emergence of their Top Three Picks in the 2019 Draft. Kysaiah Picket, Luke Jackson and Trent Rivers all looked comfortable at AFL level and all showed enough to suggest they can be long term players. Rivers in particular looks like he could have impact in the 2021 season with the others maybe maturing in a couple of years.
Christian Petracca finally had his breakout year the supporters have been craving and was rewarded with selection in the All Australian side. The other positive was the instant impact traded recruit Ed Langdon had. Although his kicking was average for the first 3/4s of the season, his ability and work rate on his wing was a shining light and a much needed deficiency the club needed to rectify.
Beating St Kilda in Round 14 in the top end was probably the best win the Red & Blues had in 2020. An opposition that played finals and were in good form was a great scalp for the Demons to claim. Steven May was unbelievable and Ed Langdon had one of his best games for the year. Then there was the output of one Christian Petracca.
I’m going to overlook Steven May here who I thought was outstanding. Christian Petracca has power, X-Factor, skill and a touch of lair about him, in 2020 he delivered all these qualities consistently and in spades. He finally put all the facets of his game on show for the footy world to see and it was breath taking at times.
Any side that has Oliver, Gawn, Petracca and May, all arguably in the best five in the competition for their position or role, has enough high end talent to play finals. This side isn’t a Top Four side by no means, but it should play finals, and it didn’t. One can argue a coach who can harness this talent into a finals contender is the most important thing the Demons need to address as soon as they can.