Sunday 23 May 2021

The recession we had to have

Given we've only had three other 11 game winning streaks in history there's not much to compare this defeat to, but could there have been a better time to lose than the week ridiculously premature articles about 'daring to believe' started? It wasn't quite David King's telling us to stop worrying in 2017 shortly before we missed finals but still felt like unnecessary jumping of the gun. It's nice that people show a positive interest, but a 9-0 start is nothing more than a deposit on a finals spot. 

A top two finish is desirable, but even the prize you get for the minor premiership has about the same value as a secondhand DVD player from the Salvos. If you're not flying on September 1 it matters not a jot what you were doing in May. Doesn't mean we didn't enjoy the ride, but that will be worth the same as 5-4, 6-3, 7-2 or 8-1 if we're not raring to go at finals time.

An even more appropriate sign of the apocalypse was taking on a cryptocurrency exchange sponsor. In both cases, values have been inexplicably increasing all year while we waited for the boom to fizzle out. Right on cue, fictional concepts Bitcoin and Melbourne leading the ladder both crashed in the same week. If one of them regains their value in the near future I don't think it will be us.

This page has turned simplistic footy analysis into an art form, but there will be somebody out there accusing us of taking the Crows lightly. This ignores us giving slop like St Kilda, North and Hawthorn every chance before coming good when it mattered. That might be the most offensive part of this capitulation (non-umpiring department), we'd indulged another challenge and were set to win with just a few minutes left before pissing it away. 

Now that the great run is over it's easy to be dismissive of past performances, but look back at last week again and tell me that we weren't ripe for a loss. Admittedly, I was as confident as possible that we'd get through here before being touched up by the Dogs, but will testify under oath that the danger sides were there against Carlton. We got away with that because they were an ordinary team that didn't play well. This time we ran into an ordinary team playing out of their skins and fell as narrowly short as you can get.

I tried hard to stop the famous Veil of Negativity dropping from the ceiling. After all, without ever being menacing for more than a couple of quarters at a time we'd beaten all the other lowly sides, why not another one? Salem is so important that the news of his withdrawal with 'soreness' (later revealed to the more sinister-sounding 'groin complaint') was the only time my confidence wavered. I'll take their word for it that he was too sore to play and they weren't just resting him for an 'easy' game with an eye to next week.

In his place came Nev, who is the only 2010s veteran who'll go close to leaving with the same adulation as Nathan Jones, but like Jones is not approaching the finish line at top speed. In trying to remain positive I thought he might free up Hibberd to do Salemish things. He did not. Nor did Hunt. Conceding nearly four goals than any other game this season - oddly enough against North - suggests the backline as a whole had a shocker. Not that they're solely responsible, I love everyone who kept us unbeaten for nine games but throw a rock and you'll hit a contributor to this loss. Unless the rock hits Clayton Oliver, in which case I'll knife you.

Flat performance or not we very well could have still won, but let none of the whinging about missed opportunities or one of the great umpiring bloopers detract from Adelaide's performance. Salem's absence helped, but kids and veterans united to give our defenders a bath, and I've got no earthly idea how our structure-free forward line nearly kicked triple figures. Probably because most of the goals came from the midfield.

Probably the only element of the game we were better at this week was winning clearances. Fat lot of good that did, but far from being proof that you can afford to lose them, it adds weight to the theory that you can't expect defenders to get you out of jail every week. We were ropey enough with the ball flinging down there at speed in open play, I can only imagine the sort of out the arse goals Adelaide would have kicked if it had also been shooting out of the middle. Salem might have been good for the missing two points (if you believe things work that way) but our backline hadn't been under this much pressure since the Port or Dogs games last year. Even the great Cairns cockups had more to do with failing to kick a winning score than anything offensive by the backmen.

Considering how it ended, the early returns were positive. The ease of the first goal made it seem everything was going to be alright. Had things gone as expected this might have been where I'd said "and that's when I knew we were going to win". As if I've ever thought the first goal proved we were going to win. Still, Sizzle and Langdon bamboozling the Crow defence with an intelligent tap of a bouncing ball and a finish from close range suggested good times. We barely looked like kicking a goal from close range again.

One of the reasons we didn't win was on display not long after, when Gawn flubbed an intercept mark in defence that and allowed them to sneak the reply through. He's done this a couple of times in recent weeks and a worrying trend. I know they're trying to protect Petty and add another intercepting option, but if you're not going to take the marks or kill the ball your presence becomes dangerous. This is why Lever just thumps it out of bounds so often. Your first instinct is why didn't he just mark it, then you see situations like this and realise that sometimes it's better to do the conservative thing and make absolutely sure the other side's not going to crumb it.

Speaking of Lever, I'm pleased for Crows fans that they finally got to do a half-baked Carnival of Hate three years after he left. They weren't creative enough for anything more than vigorous booing, but it was their right to sook and I'm glad they exercised it. Considering our form with this sort of thing you'd be hypocritical to complain. In fact, there should be more of it. More personal issues, more Duursma bow and arrow, more Rhys Mathieson, more Toby Greene. That will do more for the game's profile than endless pissing about with the rules.

However, my view on booing has not changed since the dark days of the Adam Goodes debacle. It is the coward's way out. You should say what you really mean and be judged on that. Still, genuine ill-feeling that doesn't veer into bullying (but sure, you were just booing him because he belted Simon Godfrey a decade earlier weren't you?) is good for football. There's got to be some standards though, I'm not accepting Hawthorn fans being pantomime angry at Lance Franklin when they'd probably nosh him off if asked politely.

The hostile reception may have contributed to Lever playing one of the nervier games of his post-ACL life. Or the cuddly-looking Matthew Nicks just found a way to stop him merrily running free and chopping off every kick inside 50. This is a side-effect of playing well early in the year, everyone's got the chance to come up with ways to negate our best features. He still bobbed up for plenty of intercepts but often looked rattled and gave away a goal from a needless push in the back. Jake may have lost here, to the joy of the people sitting along the fence who looked like they'd dug a shallow grave or two in their time, but did avoid the Don Pyke Kidnap Express bus tour so he's probably come out ahead psychologically.

It wasn't the first time he'd played the Crows at Adelaide Oval, but last year they were so bad the ball didn't spend enough time in defence for the skeleton strength crowd to hang shit on him. They may have lost five straight before this, but have clearly come a long way since ending that night 0-10. Not hard to do better than that, but I think they'll be back in finals contention a lot quicker than some perennial rebuilders. Funny how some teams bounce back quickly from disaster and others spend the best part of a decade in disarray.

Like Paul Roos before him, 2021 Simon Goodwin would rather win 45-40 than 145-140, so he must have been concerned at how much space the Crows were finding. When it turned into a contested possession game in the second half we lost anyway, so maybe it would have been better as a shootout? In the end, that's irrelevant, in both the high and low scoring phases of the game we had the four points in the bag and stuffed it up.

We seemed to settle down to proper top of the ladder form midway through the quarter, kicking three goals in three minutes. The first came from McDonald not just selling candy but the entire meat tray and walking around a hapless defender to goal from the square. He wasn't terrible from there, but didn't do much to further his surprise All-Australian campaign.

This was followed by Trent Rivers turboing out of the middle at the next centre bounce and hoofing one from distance. I know some would rather we let the opposition get the ball 20 metres out from goal before we try and launch attacks but this was right up my alley. If they're going to persist with 6-6-6 you may as well take advantage. When Melksham hit a wonderful pass to Weideman for the third in quick succession it looked like we'd finally sussed them and were going to trot off into the distance.

Our problem was that you barely ever saw any of these people again. Melksham set up two goals with wonderful kicks in the first 20 minutes then proceeded to do bugger all, Weid got almost all his kicks up the ground, and Rivers didn't do a great deal forward or back. They were not alone, had we pinched this a top of the ladder side may never have won with fewer players going full pelt.

In the great narcoleptic Melbourne tradition of unexpectedly falling asleep, we failed to press on and kill the game off (or just get to quarter time with what we had), doing our best to let the Crows get back into it. Not long after, the Weid goal was cancelled via a hitout intercept in defence (and if Nathan Buckley has ever been right about anything it's that hitouts are a shithouse statistic to derive any serious meaning from), then Lever gave away another by deliberately handballing over the line. As we discovered later, where he went wrong was not rocketing it over the boundary from 20 metres away.

Usually, you'd say kicking five goals in a quarter was a good thing, but with our defence looking uncharacteristically shaky letting four in at the other was a worry. Not to mention them almost booting another one right at the end. Maybe it was that old MFC fatalism coming back into play but I had much more faith in their forwards keeping it up for four quarters than ours. Perhaps our players felt uncomfortable at not having to climb out of a hole in the first quarter for once? Fine time to wish for a return to the Stranglewank days.

Just as clearances came back, forward pressure disappeared. It was diabolical in the first quarter and didn't get any better by the end. Of the players you'd expect to have an impact, ANB went hardest but balanced his defensive work with rotten disposal, Fritsch acted like a traffic cone when he didn't have the ball, the thinking man's cameo artist Spargo just ran around, and Pickett hasn't looked dangerous for a month. But, forget that he's a 19-year-old second year player finding his way, how about another comparison to four time premiership player Cyril Rioli? 

Our quest to keep the ball down there would have been helped by not stuffing the ball down the throat of unchallenged defenders about 25 times. Seems like as good a time as any to bring back that famous word 'connection'. I'm torn down the middle on the Brown vs Weid debate. When it looked like Jackson was going to be out for another week this looked like a knockout match to decide which one we stuck with, now I'm more confused than over. Weid's role crosses over with Jackson's but in that Geelong final he was taking belting marks in front of goal so it's not like he can't do it. And while Brown hasn't done anything outstanding yet, he kicked five goals in his first two games before playing one dud in conditions that didn't suit him. For now, I'm 51% in favour of the Weid but would be happy either way - mind you B. Brown apparently played an absolute stinker in the VFL today and M. Brown kicked 2.6 so that's probably made their decision easy.

A wonderfully weighted kick Petracca to Fritsch kick that opened the second quarter once again made you think everything was going to be ok. Then Fritsch joined the cavalcade of players who went missing, as we were reduced to playing about 12 on 18 (or for umpiring whinge fans, 12 on 21) while search parties were being arranged to locate the rest.

This was, for once, a Melbourne game that our old mate Steve Hocking would have loved, with plenty of opportunities at both ends. Any suggestion that we were finally going to take the hint and cruise away to another victory was shattered by them kicking two in a row. Sure, then second was just a flat-out pisstake free on Petty for doing nothing more than winning a battle of strength but I'd argue Adelaide got reward for creating a situation where the Wheel of Umpiring could spin in their favour. Maybe if we'd done the same we'd have snagged a couple of dodgy ones?

Enter Clayton Oliver, about to put on the best performance in a loss the golden days of Gary Ablett at Gold Coast. First, he kicked a goal only slightly less ludicrous than that belter at Adelaide Oval a few years back, then he created an opportunity out of the middle that ended in Fritsch hitting the post. He couldn't do it all, and another dropped Gawn mark in defence (what the dickens is going on?) allowed the Crows through again. We not only couldn't get rid of them, but it took Harmes leading with his held like Joel Selwood to win a high contact free and going into half time with scores level.

There was a last-ditch chance to go ahead at the break, with another centre clearance ending in a Fritsch mark. He was - for once - right in front but his kick fell short. There's nothing more that I hate than the assumption that if a player had converted instead of missing that the rest of the game would have followed the exact same path. However, a kick after any of the first three sirens is as close as you're going to get to being able to argue it. Still, even if he'd snuck this through for a point and we'd started the third term one up, it doesn't automatically mean we have one more at the end and draw. Wouldn't have hurt though.

Half time offered us a chance to glance into the Plan B envelope and find a way to stop the Crows dominating uncontested possession. Must have been Salem's week to guard the envelope because we came out to exactly the same sort of game, with them merrily chipping it from one end to the other a'la Geelong 2020. Ludicrously, a third dropped Maximum mark let them in for another and things were starting to look a touch ropey. I said he looked tired a couple of weeks ago and am wondering if - for once - my knee-jerk reaction might have been correct. Certainly a big difference to Hawthorn, the day he could have outmarked the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

If Max had already done more blunders than the last five years combined (and to be fair, he did a lot of good stuff as well, I'm not trying to get him dropped), his involvement in the next Adelaide goal was unlucky. After seven weeks of barely paying 50s they've roared back with a vengeance. Now the mere knocking of ball from hand in a marking contest led to the penalty. It still left the Adelaide ruckman more than 50 metres out. Hence why a teammate ran past for the handball and walloped it through. We've tried that about 50 times in the last few years and it's worked once.

Now at a couple of goals down, there was cause for panic. Oliver and Petracca were having a tremendous bash, but if the rest of them weren't involved in bloopers it's because they weren't getting a touch. For instance, Pickett, who sparked at just the right time to bolt into an open goal after barely getting a touch all night. He finished it but it didn't happen without a great second effort by Jackson, who put on another performance that left you giddy about his future. Until Freo get us back for pinching Jeff White by rorting their salary cap to sign him.

We couldn't help but keep them in it, including Lever doing a good old fashioned shove in the middle of his opponent's back right in front of goal. I was ready to be outraged, then the replay showed he did it. Like a more legitimate version of the Petty free, the more you take defenders out of their comfort zone, the more likely they are to give away frees. We had zero interest in this philosophy and look where it got us.

That man Oliver continued to carry the team on his back, this time recovering that goal from a contested mark. Set shots are not usually his forte but he could do no wrong, almost adding another at the end. That miss left us three points ahead at the final change, and considering our good record in last quarters and the limits of their youthful exuberance this should have seen us home.

Things looked even better when we finally got the game on our terms, with Lever intercepting his way towards a tremendous "fuck you all" win, and their backmen unable to find simple avenues out of the defensive 50 for the first time. So when Spargo turned up for the steadier - set up by Oliver of course - it stood to reason that the floodgates might open. And that they did, albeit temporarily and without enough force to do fatal damage. Incidentally, Spargo's reaction while it was going through was thoroughly giffable. If only there was anything from this game that I ever wanted to see a second time I'd play his sideways leaning antics on a loop.

After Langdon kicked a goal that may have been touched but good luck proving that with the quality of AFL cameras, I reasoned with myself that I'd be comfortable with one more. Enter who else but Oliver, not even bothering to try and bring the forwards into it and rifling home on the run. What a performance this was. Contested possessions have only been a stat since 1999, but he improved on his own record (previously shared with Jack Viney) to have 27. It's a positive stat, but the visual evidence of how he did it was even more impressive.

Turns out he couldn't do it all himself, and my stupid level of confidence in the 'one more goal' theory didn't take into account conceding straight out of the middle. This is why I despise losing centre clearances. Had we held up for a minute, or got the ball forward and locked it in there, they would have had to work extra hard to get it forward, instead we allowed them to immediately neck Oliver's goal and were left in the same place. He might as well have missed and we'd have been a point better off.

We've had a reasonable run of not turning 5/11/17 point leads into one point losses, but you still always know the possibility is there. In fact, we hadn't lost by one since 2010's brutally but accurately described 'Petterd Game'. That's not surprising considering for most of the time since we've been flat out losing by anything less than 50. On the upside, this time we get to point and boo at an umpire as the villain rather than scarring the memory of an otherwise much-loved player from the #fistedforever era.

Like us, Adelaide (defeated Geelong, lost to Hawthorn) must only seriously bother turning up for the big games because they would not go away. For the first time ever I watched a thrilling finish with Child #1, who started the last 10 minutes demanding Melbourne kick a goal and ended it laughing hysterically at me charging around the room shouting things like "I can't believe we're going to lose like this". When the once again much-maligned Petty was cheated out of a blatant holding the ball that led directly to Adelaide's goal I had to internalise words that would have probably ended in a visit from Child Protective Services.

Even though I was already disappointed at myself for caving into public pressure and assuming we'd win, I mentally doubled down and tried to believe we'd get out of this somehow. Would have been a fine time to pluck a goal out of our ringpiece, or perhaps just to find a mark near goal for the first time in living memory. Instead, we spent two minutes shambling around like a team that was 0-9 and protecting their first lead all season. 

Then, much to the delight of that Carlton stroker who wanted to besmirch the good name of Steven May, the winning goal came in a contest against him. He couldn't get a spoil on Taylor (never Tex) Walker, and you just knew the way the evening was going that he'd kick it. Don't want to get greedy after winning nine in a row, but couldn't he have just repaid the favour from Weideman's miss against them two years ago? Apparently not. 

After Leoncelli's famous 2001 winner received a welcome airing during the week I remained open to another miracle finish. Don't know why I was suddenly in full MFCAnon mode after nine weeks of interpreting every slight negative as a sign the end was nigh. As I've just discovered, that's what seeing the run of your life go down the tubes by the narrowest of margins will do.

With 40 seconds left it would have been appropriately comical if we'd just lost the centre bounce and any chance of victory. But we did get forward, where Pickett dropped a mark and the ball fell to ground. At this stage I'd have taken a hurried snap for a point that secured a draw just to avoid having to come to terms with the feeling of losing again. Instead, an Adelaide defender picked the ball up and heaving it over the boundary the line in the most obvious fashion ever. Like Walker's set shot I knew this wasn't going to go our way, and any Adelaide fan who tries to justify it should be excluded from the mainland of Australia. Some tried to justify it by saying the ball deflected off Spargo. These are the same people who think OJ Simpson was a bit unlucky to come home just after a double homicide.

At any other time of game, or place on the ground, the umpire would have given deliberate so vigorously that his shoulder risked dislocation. Instead, the prospect of 40,000 people saying mean things encouraged him to take the safe option. I thought it was suss that, like when Brisbane were dudded at Kardinia Park, it happened to the visiting team. The AFL found a way to kill that theory, letting Port's ruckman almost impregnate Brodie Grundy in the dying seconds of their game. Two one point wins for Adelaide teams, two questionable decisions. What a week to be South Australian (jokes on a postcard to the usual address).

I respect the difficulty of umpiring a fast, complex game with 360 degree movement but this was such a bad decision that it's almost funny. Piss off with the Zapruder film style efforts to pretend the umpire saw some minor loophole, he stuffed it up and it cost us. Not as much we'd recently cost ourselves. The decision certainly took the heat off a team that had stuffed up their chance to kill the game and were left scrambling for a Hail Mary goal in the dying seconds.

As far as controversial umpiring decisions in Adelaide go didn't quite reach the intensity of Fitzroy being crucified in 1991 but still hurt. There's some comfort from being the 'good' side in a situation like this, think back to the few games we unexpectedly won while in a worse position than the Crows and imagine what damage you'd have wrought on inanimate objects if something like this had stopped us winning. For all the shit Peter McKenna got as a commentator, at least in 1991 he had the plums to openly slaughter the decisions that fixed up the Lions. The otherwise gold standard Foxtel team of Hudson, Dunstall and Lyon (not Ricciuto) could only muster up slight indignation and random noises, not the sort of the howling abuse this deserved. The perpetrator may as well have driven through every red light camera on the way home while he was at it. 

Like Brisbane in Geelong, it would have only given us the chance to win. We would still have had to navigate a kick from the pocket with 20 seconds left. I don't believe in mystical bollocks like fate and destiny, but considering our commitment to not winning this game I bet it would have been kicked across the face and failed to score anyway.

The best bit about that Leoncelli goal was the dead silence that greeted both it and the final siren. Vacuuming the oxygen out of the place in the same fashion here would have been cruel but wonderful. We'd have got one more on the board before being beaten next week no matter what, but more importantly would have won another game as red-hot favourite. Now all the familiar dread will come back when we play Collingwood, Essendon, Gold Coast, Hawthorn and Adelaide again. The next game against the Crows comes after playing the Bulldogs and West Coast in Perth, and ahead of a last round game against Geelong away. Winning has been fun, we'd want to be doing a lot more of it before getting to the last month.

A forward pocket boundary throw-in kept open the prospect of a blockbuster finish, but how often do we directly create goals from stoppages that close? I think back to the time Max did a fancy over the head tap to Viney who snapped a goal and wish we could see more of that. This would have been a great time. Alas no. They stopped Oliver or Petracca (because, realistically, who else was going to get it) from scooting onto it, Max tried to take one of the two remaining stoppages out of the ruck himself and the Crows were home. Bah. 

I'm still irked now, but the red mist phase passed quickly. After a few minutes of stomping around the house complaining to nobody in particular life went on. I don't think we were beaten by a better team, but certainly one that were a better side on the night and made the most of their chances. Couldn't care less if they win one more game or 10 as long as they lose to us in the rematch, but I'm willing to accept joint custody of the result - they won it, we lost it.   

So in the end, almost everyone except Clayton Oliver got the result they deserved, James Jordon finally lost, the AFL's going to have a hard time spinning the deliberate decision as anything other than historically bad, and we're just as unlikely to win a flag as we were last week.

2021 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
5 - Clayton Oliver
--- The distance from here to the Moon ---
4 - Ed Langdon
3 - Christian Petracca
--- Paris to Dakar on a moped ---
2 - Luke Jackson
--- Another measurement of distance ---
1 - Jake Lever

Apologies to Gawn, but only because he was in a neck-and-neck race for an underserved point against Lever. I really did consider every option but can't justify anyone else making it. This is one of those days where you have to just fill in the numbers and pretend the rest of the game never happened.

26 - Clayton Oliver
16 - Christian Petracca, Christian Salem (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
15 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
14 - Tom McDonald
12 - Jake Lever
11 - Kysaiah Pickett
9 - Steven May
8 - Luke Jackson
7 - Ed Langdon
6 - Bayley Fritsch
3 - Michael Hibberd
2 - James Harmes, Jayden Hunt, Adam Tomlinson
1 - Charlie Spargo

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Week
The way I feel about Oliver today I'd have given him the award for a tap-in from a metre out with no defenders within 50 metres. Good thing he also kicked a belter. Watching it again will make me angry about the rest of the game but I remember it fondly. For the weekly prize he wins excessive adulation, to the point where I might turn up outside his house. Pickett is still your overall clubhouse leader.  

Next Week
Now we'll never know if - like Nigel Tufnel's amplifier - Dees go to 11. If we play like this over the next two weeks we'll struggle to get to 10 anytime soon. After the Bulldogs, fresh off dismembering St Kilda, it's six wins in a row Brisbane, in a match for the prestigious We Lost Because The Umpire Squibbed Cup.

Footscray are like us with additional ruthless scoring, hence why they've won two games by over a hundred points this year and we've done it twice since 1993. Even if we'd beaten the Crows easily (hah) I'd have expected to go down next week. But now that the heat will be off a bit, let's see how much has been learned from not only this week but also our pre-season game, where they took care of us without raising a sweat. As far as I'm concerned nothing has changed for them, I thought they'd win the flag then and still do now, but we've done much better than expected without ever excelling so it should be interesting. Or it'll be like playing them on Friday night in 2011 with the world at our feet, losing by 10 goals and sacking the coach a month later. Either or.

For all the coverage of our forward dilemmas, I'm struggling to find players to replace the ones I want to get rid of. Salem for Jetta is obvious if fit. If not god help us. Might be a chance to give Bowey a debut. If Viney is fit he has to come back and I'm narrowly going to shelve my distrust of Brayshaw and drop Harmes again because it's not like we play Gus in the middle anyway, so he wouldn't be taking up Jack's spot.

Then there's Melksham, whose zero tackles and anonymous last three quarters mean he gets to be the sacrificial lamb. But who comes in? After last week I can't trust Chandler in a big game and we are otherwise cactus for half-forwards. vandenBerg is only just coming back from injury, Jones is still out hurt, and frankly do either of those options float your boat anyway? I'd rather work out how to give Sparrow another go, even if it's not a like-for-like swap.

Depth is starting to be a concern. There's tall forwards and midfielders, but otherwise the uninjured cupboard is looking a bit bare. We're down to Baker, Bedford, Bowey, Bradtke, B. Brown, M. Brown, Chandler, Daw, Jones, Lockhart, Rosman, Smith, Sparrow and vandenBerg. There's a chance to go crazy picking state league randoms in the mid-season draft but that's the biggest pot-luck process known to man. Fine if you're Richmond and you can warm a guy up for the whole second half of the season before dropping him in the Grand Final, not much help if you're trying to tackle immediate shortcomings.

IN: Salem, Sparrow, Viney
OUT: Harmes, Jetta, Melksham (omit)
LUCKY: Brayshaw, Pickett, Spargo, Weideman
UNLUCKY: Browns of all varieties

I demand to be proven wrong, but will eat the metaphorical hat if we win this. I'm still intending to go if tickets are available (and this result has probably killed the interest of a few of our fans), and at a stadium that's not the MCG will even cop sitting next to somebody. The only question is whether the inevitable fist fight with them comes before or after half-time.

Final Thoughts
Considering how bland we've been for the last few years, we haven't been involved in the upset of the season for a while. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, being on the end of the massive upset means things must be going alright. I'm still looking no further than the gap to ninth.

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