PAUL ROOS – HERALD SUN COLUMN

Paul Roos analyses seasons for teams that missed the finals

BY Paul Roos
Herald Sun -September 01, 2012

AS the season is about to close and the eight finalists are set for 2012, let’s have a look at the 10 teams that missed out on the eight.
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Who is the player or players that would give the supporters the most heart for the future and what are the deficiencies that each club cannot afford to dally over?

ST KILDA

The Future: Most teams would love a small dangerous goalkicking forward. The Saints appear to have unearthed another in Ahmed Saad. With another pre-season under his belt, he will only get better and he will provide Saints fans with many highlights for many years to come.

Fix-it Now: They must sign Brendon Goddard. Even though he has come under some scrutiny about his form this year, quality players do not fall out of trees. We know Goddard’s best is exceptional and he must stay a Saints player. If he regains the form of 2010, Saints will go back up the ladder quickly.

CARLTON

The Future: I believe Matthew Kreuzer will be ready to leave his injury problems in the past and provides perhaps the most upside of any player at the Blues. We have seen glimpses of his enormous talent and all understand why he was taken at pick No.1. What we now need to see is a fit, healthy and confident Kreuzer. If he can enter season 2013 as such, he will have a break-out year and the Blues may make the top four.

Fix-it Now: The Blues must find another big power key forward or defender. While a healthy Michael Jamieson, Lachie Henderson and Jarrad Waite could provide headaches for other teams, I still believe all three have deficiencies. They certainly would be mulling over Travis Cloke and if he decides to leave Collingwood, the Blues should make a serious play for him.

ESSENDON

The Future: The only reason we are not mentioning David Zaharakis’s name in All-Australian calculation is because of the injuries that have cruelled his season. If he stays fit, I believe this time next year he will be discussed as one of the very best mids in the competition.

Fix-it Now: They seem to have a weakness in their midfield and if they can add speed and outside run that will certainly help. But the most immediate problem is to sort out their pre-season training. Stop worrying about size and strength and get back to putting miles in the players legs.
RICHMOND

The Future: You cannot mention the Tigers and their future without the name Trent Cotchin. Richmond’s No.9 clearly is one of the young superstars of the competition. He has elevated this year into the top-six players in the competition and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he took home the Brownlow Medal.

Fix-it Now: This is arguably the Tigers most important pre-season in the last 30 years. They must be meticulous in their planning and in doing so address every aspect of on-field strategy. They cannot afford the mental letdowns late in games that happened this year. They must rehearse this over and over again from November to March.
B

RISBANE

The Future: Tom Rockliff, Jack Redden, and Daniel Rich are clearly the stars of the future for the Lions. We know they are very good AFL players. If they can elevate another level to become absolute stars, the future for the Lions looks bright.

Fix-it Now: The Lions in my opinion must decide is Daniel Merrett a key defender or a key forward. My view would be keep him in defense and build the defense around him and find another key forward to help out Jonathan Brown.

PORT ADELAIDE

The Future: Brad Ebert has had a fantastic first year with the Power. To play so well in an inconsistent team, clearly stamps him as Port’s star of the future. He must continue to improve and aim to be an elite midfielder for the Power.

Fix-it Now: This is the most critical coaching decision in the club’s short history. The Power must get an experienced senior coach and do it anyway possible. They cannot rely on the unknown of an untried assistant coach.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

The Future: While Mitch Wallace isn’t a flashy outside player he still seems to me the most impressive of the Dog’s youngsters. Hard working, tough, and consistent should stamp Wallace as a long term AFL player.

Fix-it Now: Dogs players must embrace their new coach’s game style. They have been inconsistent with it all year and that must not be the case in 2013. Commit to the new coach now or leave.

MELBOURNE

The Future: I’m not sure exactly how good Jeremy Howe could become, but he is a talented player that generates excitement for his teammates and the fans. His marking is outstanding, but he must continue to develop an all-round game.

Fix-it Now: The Demons players need to make the same decision as the Bulldogs. Twelve months with Neeld must translate to an immediate commitment on day one of pre-season to back their senior coach. No more excuses in 2013. If Neeld senses any players won’t conform he must get rid of them.

GOLD COAST

The Future: There are many Suns stars of the future on their list. Zach Smith is the one player that intrigues me the most. Although he has had a poor year, we have seen what a great athlete he is. He may develop into the best and most exciting of them all.

Fix-it Now: Must identify their best 10 kids and potentially trade any others for a more experienced look in 2013. A big improvement is needed at the Gold Coast next season.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

The Future: Like the Suns, the young talent is vast. You cannot however go past Toby Green. What he has done in his first year of AFL football is exceptional and it is scary to think how good he can become given his impact in his rookie year.

Fix-it Now: The immediate concern for the Giants can only be fixed with time. Another solid pre-season and another 12 months to look at their list will allow big decisions to be made at the end of 2013.

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