Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Match Preview: Sunshine vs Slop

(As you may have realised over the last few years I can only be bothered writing match previews when asked to do them for other boards. You'll eventually see the below on the Brisbane forum. Enjoy!)

Brisbane fans may see something of their own history in the Melbourne side that runs out at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon. For those of you who were Brisbane Bears fans, think of pretty much any year between 1987 and 1994 but without the scoreboard that had the jaunty little bear dancing around even when you were losing by 150. If you're a Fitzroy fan think 1995/96 - but don't think about it for too long or you'll have a nervous breakdown. If you were neither of these and joined the party just in time to enjoy triple premiership glory then the only way you'll be able to have any reference point to the way we're playing this season is to go outside, tip your garbage bins onto the road, wait for a car to run into the wreckage and then stand there surveying it in all it's glory for a few minutes.

We have been THAT bad this year. It says it all that our best performance of the year was against the best team in the competition. Twin massacres at the hands of the, still, unbeaten Hawthorn and Footscray had us worrying that we were going to leave Geelong having stolen the Bears record for the most points conceded in a game and given away Fitzroy's record for the biggest winning margin. Somehow we dragged the Cats down to our level and almost got away with a competitive result. All signs pointed to improvement and rebirth against North Melbourne but if they hadn't kicked themselves out of it early they could have beaten us by 80 points. Next stop Carlton - take out the farce of a match that they "accidentally lost" in Round 22 last year and we couldn't even beat them when we were good - even if half their team are still completely useless how were we supposed to turn them over with Judd (finally running freely after leaving his bulging wallet on the sidelines) and Fevola in the side? Despite 15 of their starting 18 still being generally inept we barely fired a shot and they did us over by six goals.

So, that brings us to this week. Oh the humanity. In his last two starts against us Daniel Bradshaw has kicked 17 goals - in years we were supposed to be good. With 23.13 in the first five weeks this year I shudder to think what he's going to do this time.

Last week we managed to stem the Fevola tide after a quick start by double teaming him with both Rivers and Carroll. Then we, err, stopped doing that and he kicked about 5 more. Was nice while it lasted. Sure, we might implement the same strategy on Bradshaw this week but I don't think anyone - let alone Dean Bailey - would have any faith that we've got the numbers to stitch him up and not leave Jonathan f'n Brown free to run riot and kick 13. He'll be keen to play himself back into form this week after having a shocker against Hawthorn, and what better team to do it against than the one who would struggle to beat the Noosa Tigers with a 30 point headstart?

Usually on BigFooty club forums there are always two competing factions - one who thinks their team's backline is shite and one who think they're underrated. The good news is that for one week only you'll all be united in getting together and realising that at least they're better than our forward line. Consider the fact that we kicked four goals in three quarters against Carlton - a team with a defence so lost and leaky they may as well be called Gilligan's Island. Neitz is out and the alleged heir apparent Juice Newton (though I've not seen much of it other than mark of the year) was suspended in the 2's last week. This leaves us with Robertson, Robertson and, indeed, Robertson. His performance against Carlton was a million miles removed from the first four rounds but it wasn't until Brad Green joined him inside 50 that we looked even moderately potent. Last week our first two shots at goal were taken by James McDonald and Matthew Whelan who have kicked about 15 goals between them in a decade - most of them I'm willing to bet not from set shots. We broke down so many times across half forward that I was almost nostalgic for one Brad Miller to return from suspension. He's back this week, and hopefully being in his home state will cause him to run riot in unprecendeted fashion. Don't hold your breath.

The one thing that I ask for, in knowing that we're going to get done, is that Travis Johnstone is kept quiet. I don't think I can stand having to log onto the Melbourne boards and see a hundred threads about how we should have kept him and "who's sorry now?" etc.. God knows we've already had the muppets posting that Bailey should be sacked and that we should have hired Sheeds as coach instead - I can't take any more revisionist BS. I hope TJ does well in Brisbane. He can win four Brownlow medals, a flag and the Cox Plate for all I care, but everyone could see that he was never going to progress any further with us. We got a first round pick for him, and yes in true Melbourne recruiting fashion the player we selected is currently residing on the Long Term Injury list (in the company of none other than our captain), and time will tell whether we won, lost or drew on the deal but I can't see what having Travis would have done for us this year or into the future. Now watch him get 47 possessions and kick 8 goals. On a similar note is it just me or have we not exchanged very many players between clubs over the years? Nick Carter did the trifecta and played for Fitzroy, Brisbane and Melbourne in a successful two game stint, and John Northey coached the Bears but have we swapped that many other players in the last twenty of so years? Perhaps, they could play for the Marcus Seecamp Cup?

The verdict? Well, almost all of the key indicators point to a crushing Brisbane win. Your forward line is ace, ours is slop. We can't play interstate, confidence is at an all-time low and the captain has just done himself a serious injury. Not that Neita has done anything this season but at least his misfortune has given us some chance to blame injury for our abysmal start to the year. Shame about the first four weeks, but go with it anyway. I fail to see any way in which we can match up, but at least if they're going to be two steps behind in everything else the boys will (hopefully) have a massive crack to make up for it.

What can we take advantage of? Well, according to this thread you can't kick in. The good news is that neither can we, so get ready for a fruitful afternoon of seven point plays. Please don't tell me you're letting TJ take the kick-ins either? I think he hit a target once in a decade. I'm trying to come up with another positive but I'm struggling. Cale Morton has been promising as you'd expect from a top 5 pick without ever going overboard, Brock McLean and Nathan Jones have been solid in the midfield and McDonald has done what McDonald has always does - chased like a greyhound, thrown himself into tackles like a lunatic and still been ignored by everyone.

Season 2008? I'm depressed. If you're an expert on contractual law and think you can find a way to get Dean Bailey out of his contract I'm sure he'll be more than happy to hear from you before he becomes totally depressed and throws himself out of a 3rd storey window.

P.S - Any chance you might re-draft Llane Spaanderman so I can finally use the Enter Spaanderman headline I've been sitting on for four years?

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