Monday, 1 August 2011

The Tackle: Demonblog edition

So, it's farewell then Deano and the poisoned chalice is (temporarily) handed to Todd Viney. He'll wipe the blood off it and have a crack for the rest of the year, but for now let us remember the last four years.

Thanks to everyone who tweeted in their suggestions. I've brewed them up with a few of my own, and in a massive rip-off of Mark Robinson's column in the Herald Sun here are ten likes and ten dislikes of the Bailey era.

Once you're done, remember the man via the most fitting tribute of all - the MS Paint thread.

LIKES

Getting the job
There’s something to be said for a bloke who applies through an ad in the paper and cleans up one of the biggest names in footy in the process. The way he has conducted himself off-field since day one has been nothing less than professional, and you can see why he would have been so impressive in his presentation in the first place. Ok, so it didn’t work out but who’s to say Sheedy or Hardwick would have us much further down the road now?

It’s seems so condescending to say that somebody’s a top bloke once he’s been given the boot, but it’s universally accepted that it’s true. When he spoke at the AGM before the start of this year I was almost ready to jump up and crash through a few brick walls. Unfortunately for him the one thing he couldn’t do was get into the Geelong huddle at quarter time and talk them into calming down, and what would have been an extension of at least one year on Friday became media frenzy, board panic and a sacking by Monday.

The end (off-field)
Granted he could hardly thrown a jug of water at Schwab and tee off with blue language without ruining his chances of getting another assistant job elsewhere in the future, but you can't see him being the sort of guy who would anyway.

It's becoming clear that there are some serious political machinations taking place behind the scenes at this club, and for him to come out and deliver a straight down the line press conference where he even found time to mock Tony Jones asking a stupid question was sheer class and he would have won plenty of admirers for the way he handled it.

Doesn't mean he should have been our coach next year, or even next week if you're particularly aggrieved but it was handled badly at our end and he kept his dignity the whole way through.

Player wins
Jamar and Sylvia were going absolutely nowhere when he turned up. Now one of them is a reigning All-Australian and one held in such regard that Sydney are trying to lure him away with a fat cheque.

Sylvia might not deliver every week but he's a million times better than he was in R1, 2008. The Swans might have landed him for a third rounder then, now they’ll have to use their legalised salary cap rorts to lure him north.

McKenzie has been a storming success off the rookie list, and whatever part Bails played in convincing Carlton to part with Pick 11 for Brock McLean he'll at least (hopefully at least, do the right thing Giz and be bloody good) be mentioned in every "great lopsided trades of our time" list from here until the end of days.

Watts vs Naitanui will go down alongside J.Frawley vs J.Riewoldt as a case of both clubs being perfectly happy with who they got.

Shame it rarely all came together on one day at the same time but at least there’s a base for a new coach to work on rather than the rotting corpse of a once decent side that Deano was handed when he took over.

Tanking
SCULLGOVE might be about to split up over the small matter of $5m cash, and some people (like me) might still want to spit every time the last few weeks of 2009 are mentioned but there’s no doubt he did the right thing. Not the "right" thing in a moral sense, but with Gold Coast and GWS lurking over the next few drafts everyone knew that if you wanted to get anything half decent you had to do it that year.

Imagine if we'd beaten Richmond, thrashed Freo a fortnight later then picked Scully only for him to take ye olde Treasure Chest of Blacktown AND we’d still ended up in the same position we're in now? Being the only man in the entire world to have integrity wouldn't mean much when coaching Frankston – so at least he gave himself every opportunity for success.

Treating Essendon and Richmond with contempt
Unless you have an office filled with Port Adelaide fans then there’s been scant opportunity for the last five years to walk into walk on a Monday morning and take the piss out of your work colleagues. Great news then if you work with a bunch of Tiger or Bomber fans, because we've consistently cleaned them up over the last couple of years – each time giving that slim glimmer of hope that there's a light at the end of the tunnel for a few days/weeks until it all collapsed again.

The fact that we're still a very, very off chance of making the finals is irrelevant because it won't happen, but the fact that we were even in that position despite never having beaten any of Carlton, Collingwood, Footscray, Geelong, Hawthorn, North or St Kilda OR won a game at Docklands since R1, 2008 is utterly ridiculous. And this, my friends, is why when the AFL try to sneak in an expanded finals series again next year they should be laughed out of the room.

Beating up on interstate teams at the MCG
It's less fun than beating a Victorian team (for all the rare times we did that), and there is the debacle against the Eagles last year to consider, but we’ll never forget the unholy hammerings dealt out to Adelaide, Freo or the Swans over the last couple of seasons.

Name A Game probably don't even bother taping most games that we're in (unless it's to sell to opposition sides) but I could watch that hatchet job of Sydney last year a million times and never get sick of it. That's when I thought, not for the first or last time, that everything was going to be ok. I was wrong. Again.

The comeback
I don't think I'm wrong to suggest that there were a few thousand people ready to run out of the G and dive straight in front of the express train to Belgrave on the afternoon of Sunday 4 May 2008. Freo 51 points to the good, us winless and looking like we were too shit to win one game that year.

I've got no idea what he said to them at half time or whether it's just that Freo are flaky heave-ho shouting poltroons at the best of times but I'll never forget that win.

Even to this day I've still got the front page of The Age from that Monday at my desk. It’s got Austin Wonaeamirri doing his CELEBRATOR leap with a blond woman going off her chop in the background. "DEE-LIRIOUS" it reads (very imaginative) "Melbourne rolls back 51-point deficit for first win of the season".

What a way to bring up his first win. We were as good in the second half as we were rancid in the first. Matthew Bate played an absolute shocker of a first half coming back for injury, THE CELEBRATOR exploded and Jeff Farmer bafflingly told somebody to "look at the scoreboard" when we were rapidly charging them down. Pav dominated but it didn’t help. We only won two more games for the year, but whatever it was still one of the most memorable matches (in a good way) that any of us will ever see.

Rare public displays of emotion
He always seemed such a calm character – maybe too much for my liking at times, I've got a fetish for coaching psychos after all – but there were a couple of great moments.

One was when we were 50-0 down at quarter time against Geelong and he went off his nut (eventually holding the margin to 117 instead of letting it blow out to.. say.. 186) and the dugout punching, air swinging, "bash that up your arses" celebrations after the Essendon match this year.

It looked a bit odd at the time, and frankly stupid in retrospect, but I loved it. Looks now that it might have had more to do with it than just a football result and that he was probably reacting to intra-club pressure but at the time it was just the outpouring emotion of somebody who had spent three and a half years of being hammered pillar to post by media and fans.

I feel bad now for changing my mind on him every two weeks.

Swearing on Live TV

Nothing better

Being a professional, dignified character for four years
Good luck wherever you end up next Deano. I expect to see you in somebody’s else’s coaches box as an assistant when we're losing a Grand Final a few years down the line. Try not to ruin it all by sticking two fingers up at our entire administration at the final siren. People love talking about who would be a good fit where - can anybody say GWS? At least in one way he might get to continue coaching Scully.

DISLIKES

The start
Nobody expected instant success after he was handed a gigantic, ripe shit sandwich at the end of 2007 (although shamefully I convinced myself that it was just a blip on the radar) but alternatively nobody expected a slopfest the likes of which we were offered in R1, 2008 against Hawthorn.

That they backed up a week later and almost added another hundred point defeat caused the first of many aggrieved people to charge to their keyboard and declare that there was no way he could possibly be any good. One bloke has spent the last four years calling SEN and saying it, seemingly off his nut on helium the voice is so high.

It was a terrible start but it meant nothing at the time. Maybe they were right, but it was the slow burn equivalent of The Ox and his invented 98% certainty over Scully. If you’re wrong nobody remembers, if you’re right you parrot about how you’re a super genius who should always be listened to.

He didn't turn out to be the next Clarko, but at least he had a bash.

Tactical shenanigans
It started with Isaac Weetra given two games despite having absolutely no idea what he was doing, and it ended with Jurrah on a wing against a Brownlow Medallist but there was more than a handful of questionable decisions along the way.

For all the times when our swashbuckling game style reaped handsome dividends there were another three or four when we were completely played off the park, seemingly hoping that by sticking to the same plan for four quarters we'd somehow get out of it alright. Last Saturday was this philosophy's natural conclusion.

Tanking
Yes, it was the "right" think to do (*WINK WINK*) and it still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth but what's done is done and by taking Trengove as well as Scully we at least landed one player willing to put pen to paper and stick with the club instead of nicking off for fat wads of cash elsewhere.

The problem was that the 'questionable' moments at the end of 2008 (How’s Warnock at FF tracking?) would end up either being held up as the most glorious masterstroke of his career or as a sad failure in the forward planning department.

Adem Yze’s tweet about those few weeks being responsible for a "losing culture" is the kind of bollocks that you’d expect from somebody who Bailey sacked once his use-by date was well and truly up, but there’s no doubt that the fans of 17 other teams are going to remember him for just one reason – and it wasn’t saying fuck in an interview.

High draft picks seemingly going nowhere
Morton, Maric, Dunn, Bate – stagnating. Strauss and Blease - not yet convincing.

Here’s to Gysberts, Tapscott and Cook not falling into the same trap.

Rookie promotion madness
Newton’s two year contract extension and Spencil being promoted to the senior list were panic moves on players who weren’t good enough. Neither worked, other than a brief moment in the first quarter against North when Juice thought he was Tony Lockett.

"Competitive"
I’m glad he managed to fit one last mention of his favourite phrase into his final press conference. He must have said it a thousand times in the last four years, and while it might have been the absolutely 100% correct way to describe where we were trying to get to you couldn’t help but think somebody should have run out and bought him a Thesaurus.

There's only so much we want to hear about hanging onto the coat-tails of the better clubs before the coach comes out and sets sights on not only competing with them but beating their brains in.

The inability to land a big name
You couldn’t blame him for missing out on J**d but we've publically aimed at and missed both Shaun Burgoyne and Robert Warnock in the last couple of years (as well as less public nibbles at others) and have been rebuffed every time. No surprises that out of contract players who will command big money will want to go to a club that they’re going to be instantly successful at.

We might have dodged a bullet in not paying a fortune for Warnock in the end but it was proof that we had no profile and not even the lure of decent facilities could entice somebody to come over. Maybe a Sheedy would have been able to use his 'name' to get some better players, but then again maybe he would have redrafted Chris Heffernan and Gary Moorcroft before dragging us to the bottom with a cavalcade of senile antics.

The Junior McDonald debacle
Even Bails admits that forcing Junior out was a crucial mistake. I'd hate to think that if we'd kept him he’d have stopped McKenzie from being so good once he returned from injury but there’s no doubt that throwing him out in the street caused issues elsewhere in the club.

Losing Bruce in part because of it didn't hurt us that badly, but if there was resentment by the playing group that has continued past the moment the ball was bounced in Round 1 this year then somebody, somewhere needs to take responsibility. Maybe it’s the players themselves? Unfortunately you can't sack an entire list en masse and replace them with cut price Irish imports. What you can do is get somebody in who will scream into their faces that they're all weak and should fire up.

Our record against all the other Victorian teams
6-1-44 says it all really. Even the draw against the Pies is tainted by them keeping us in the game with outrageously slop kicking for goal and the presence of Josh Fraser.

Some people try to play the importance of this down by saying "oh it’s not a Victorian competition anymore, you beat whoever you’re put up against". Unfortunately for us, and Bails more often than not you’re up against a Victorian club – and if you’re not there’s every possible chance you’re in Perth or Adelaide where he never won manage to craft a win either.

The end (on and off-field)
Before last Saturday my low point of the season was probably starting the Carlton Friday night game in hyper-defensive mode, trying to keep the damage limited. The time to really defend was when we were about 150 points down at Kardinia Park. He went within a few metres of owning the worst result as a coach in history, and as much as a man who ended his playing career in a 160 point loss and presided over three of them while in charge of us he might be used to the odd thrashing but that's something nobody wants on their resume.

Who knows if the players would have been able to pull it off, but surely the last quarter was the time to try and stem the bleeding, waste time and do a bit of dinky kicking back and forth. He might have survived, at least for a few more weeks, with a 20 goal loss but 30 was always going to clean him up.

And so, the search for a supermodel supercoach begins. Will we pry Malthouse out of his contract with the Pies only for him to turn out like Barassi in '81, or will we be buying the RODNEY EADE - OUR MASTERMIND banner off the Dogs cheersquad and putting a darker blue on it? Or will we end up with somebody else who will work for minimum wage?

Who knows, whichever direction it goes in we'll be here to report on it.

3 comments:

  1. I'm afraid that it's a case of “Nice guys finish last”. What the Geelong game demonstrated was a complete lack of initiative under fire. In this day and age the flood is a viable tactic that was missing in 1979. Not very pretty, not very popular with the fans but at the end of the day reasonably effective. Was the flood deployed on Saturday? Were there any tactical moves made to mitigate the rout? No, no. Nothing. Then there appeared to be no pre-game preparation with no intelligence on how the opposition played their game. This meant that the opposition could play their style employing all their well rehearsed drills without any challenge and free from pressure. The result is obvious.

    What is of concern is that the club seems to have shown undue haste and in the process has revealed some shonky back room affairs. I would have thought that if Dean Bailey was sacked that the next in line on the coaching staff (and looking the official AFL Melbourne FC site Coaches list) that it would be Mark Williams. But no the temporary coach is to be Todd Viney (listed in the official AFL Melbourne FC site under Staff) the General Manager Player Development.

    And why are the names Cameron Schwabb and Chris Connolly being mentioned in the despatches? It is all very intriguing.

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  2. "Were there any tactical moves made to mitigate the rout? No, no. Nothing."

    There were two players 'tactically' dropped behind the ball in the first half. Trengove and somebody else. There was attempts at tactics, they were just such miserable failures they were hard to notice. Much like the rest of Baileys coaching career, I suppose.

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  3. When various commentators make mention of the fact that Melbourne is still alive to make the finals, they don't appear to realise that what this actually says is how absurd the final eight sysytem is.

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