I should have listened

The little voice in my head said, ‘Don’t do it. You might regret it’.

The little voice always says this.

As always, I ignored it.

I went and declared North Melbourne had ‘arrived’ after defeating Geelong in round 3. And we were going to play finals in 2012, and we were going to shake things up, and we were….

But, North haven’t fired a bloody shot since. And, of course, I regret it.

So, what’s happened to North?In disposing of the reigning premier, the Kangaroos looked every bit a final eight team: skillful; physical; confident; full of belief; composed; focused.

Unfortunately, North’s results post round 3 show they haven’t arrived anywhere. In fact, since losing to Port, they’ve been spotted somewhere between Stawell and Nhill thumbing a ride home.

The slide has been caused by a number of factors, the most obvious the committing of that most fatal of football sins: getting ahead of themselves (a bit like me). Other factors, such as, tactical and selection errors, have also played their part.

Our only victory since round 3 was an unconvincing result against Gold Coast – and we all know how they’re travelling. North looked disinterested, only waking long enough during the third term to put distance between themselves and their opposition. The last quarter resembled non-contact circle work. I could’ve got a kick.

The lack of physical support from teammates for Captain Swallow, repeatedly manhandled by Carmichael Hunt, was a worry. A proud, truly united group wouldn’t allow this.

Losses to Sydney and West Coast weren’t unexpected, but the way North rolled over, was. North travelled to the harbour city needing to show victory over Geelong was no fluke. Unfortunately, they played as if believing the positive press they had received. As has been typical in recent years, the Kangaroos allowed Sydney to dictate the style and pace of play, and succumbed meekly.

North held momentum and the lead during the third quarter against an injury restricted West Coast. But, when the game was there to be won, they retreated into their shells.

After six weeks of fluctuating form, North were expected to issue a definitive statement against the Western Bulldogs. Instead, it was the Bulldogs who impressed, with a number of young recruits emerging as genuine players. North were woeful – lazy, easily knocked off the ball, and repeatedly turned their backs on the play. They looked as if they expected victory to come easily.

Brad Scott pulled the boxing gloves out before the trip to Adelaide with the hope of knocking sense and urgency into his players. It worked for three and half quarters, with North dominating much of the play. But they couldn’t deliver a knock out blow and hence, Port never felt out of the game. They got a sniff, charged home and North stopped and watched them go by like spectators at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

There was a lack of leadership in the last quarter on Saturday. Swallow, Wells and Petrie all played well, but couldn’t repel Port’s charge. Boomer, as has been the problem throughout his career, couldn’t shake Cornes’ tag. Frustration eventually got him, and he thumped an opponent.

The responsibility for North’s slump must be laid before the players. They’ve simply got ahead of themselves, and at times disrespected opponents.

Also, a number of Brad Scott’s selections this season have surprised me. Perhaps to address our perennial problem with pace, youngsters Atley, MacMillan, Mullett and more recently, MacKenzie, have been favoured ahead of the versatile and hardened Greenwood and Pedersen. If Greenwood, our toughest inside onballer, had played against Essendon, we would have won. Both played on Saturday, as did Grima, in his first senior game for the season. Hopefully, he will be chosen ahead of Tarrant for the remainder of the year.

Wright, a goal kicker, has played in defence, and looked lost and dispirited against the Bulldogs. Scott continues to play Boomer up the ground. He should see out his career on a forward flank, where he won’t have to deal with a tagger, but will worry a good defender each week. Do this and he will play to the end of 2013.

McIntosh, McMahon, Wright and Edwards missed on Saturday, however, compared to other clubs, we’ve been fortunate with injuries. Aaron’s tatts were missed in Adelaide.

Before damaging his knee, Hamish’s form was good, however, Goldstein, who pushed for All-Australian selection last year when rucking alone, has been poor and was dropped two weeks ago. The two ruckmen policy hasn’t clicked, but should be persisted with. Maybe Scott should avoid having both big men on the field together as the forward line gets crowded when both push forward.

Maybe North aren’t quite ready – half of our team have played under fifty games. But, how long can we use inexperience as an excuse? Obviously, we need more contributors, more consistently. And our leaders must lead when the pressure’s on.

Brisbane will fancy themselves against North next Sunday. If Brown and Black get going, which they tend to do against us, who knows what will happen.

Scott needs to get the gloves out again and again until the message sinks in. And the players need to refocus.

And I promise to listen to the little voice in my head.

Comments

  1. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about this story that resonates with me…?

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    um…yep. Brisbane are a good chance

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Sound like many North players are happy just to be getting a game Andrew. Maybe they thought they were better than they actually are after beating the Cats.

  4. Andrew Starkie says:

    yep. damn right, Philo

  5. Andrew -North are a bit like Geelong circa 2006. Everything was in place except the on-ground performance.

    I like your coach. You need a general on the ground.

  6. Andrew Starkie says:

    Dips,

    agreed. Don’t know what’s happening with Swallow. A true warrior, but off his game of late (except Saturday). He was belted six shades of purple by Hunt and besides Anthony, no one took care of him. he also copped one against the Eagles. he looked very sluggish agaisnt the Dog, possibly due to his treatment in the preceding weeks. Like all Roos, i love Boomer, but he’ has never been able to shake a tag and often loses his bottle. Very lucky to escape suspension this week. Imagine how potent he could be floating about inside 50m. he could kick forty-fifty for the season. He’s the best kick for goal in the team.

  7. I have been left really underwhelmed by Brad Scott’s coaching performance this season. Bewildering selections (and non-selections), a game-plan that may well be two years past its use-by date, some ordinary match-day moves. And plenty of mid-week threats which ring hollow come selection time.

    Something just ain’t right.

  8. Time to clear out the deadwood. Hopefully next year, Anthony, Greenwood, McKinley, Tarrant, Garlett, Urquhart and Firrito have moved on, plus a few more.

    Don’t understand the comments from Wayne Carey about North having not much talent. Kieran Harper has as much talent in his little finger as a genius, while Mullett, Atley, MacMillan and Thomas are all handy and capable.

    Have liked the use of MacMillan and Atley so far this year, but I think both will be needing a rest very soon, and a couple of weeks in the VFL for a freshen up. For a defender, J-Mac is doing pretty well in front of goal this year. Has 8 or 9 I think. Atley is getting better and better.

    How have you seen Cunnington, Andrew? Smokie?

  9. David Downer says:

    Godspeed Stark, tough fortnight at the office. The sort of losses that drive you spare.

    The previous knock on North was winning the games they should be, but not mixing with the top end. The Cats win might have turned that universe upside down a little too much too quickly #badcosmictheories

    Concur on suggestion re Boomer. Might be time for reinvention as a Milne-type forward pest

  10. Andrew Starkie says:

    Smokie, against the Bullies North had the look of a team with ‘disquiet’ behind the scenes. I’ve seen that lack of focus in teams that have lost faith in the coach, game plan, admin etc. Very concerning.

    I like Scott’s game plan generally: positive, forward moving. As said, certain selections and the use of both rucks on the ground need rethinking

    Josh, agreed with some of those players. Firrito, Urquhart, Tarrant need to go. Don’t agree re Garlett and Anthony. Garlett has been under used and should play more senior footy. Anthony was dropped last week and this surprised me. He’s a good player who just needs more consistency.

    Until this season I thought Cunners wasn’t up to it. I thought his skills lacked. He’s shown this season he is. He’s contributed consistently.

    Josh, the KIng is on the fringes of the media, and like Grant Thomas, has to say ‘sensational’ things to be heard. Take anything he says with a grain of salt. it’s a shame, because he does have agood footy brain – obviously – but whenever he slags North, and he loves doing this, he comes across as being sad.

  11. Andrew Starkie says:

    Josh, Thomas and Campbell also must go.

  12. Andrew,

    I dunno re Anthony: downhill skier or scapegoat? The knock on him is that his disposal skills aren’t what you really want from an outside runner, and even without wanting him to be a kamikaze, he comes up short on physical commitment. That said, he runs and presents all day the way we wish some of the others would.

    I like Thomas, even with the yips. He’s smart, hard-working and creative when he’s not lining up for a set shot.

    Completely agree with you about Cunnington. This year he just looks like a proper footballer.

    Breaks my heart to agree with you about Firrito, but I think I do. I want to believe that Tarrant is a real prospect — after all, he’s played all of 9 senior games — but my gut tells me he’s not the answer, not with Pedersen in the short term and Black in the long term as alternatives. Urquhart and Campbell would seem not to have much future. Ditto McKinley.

  13. Andrew Starkie says:

    Rob, persist with Anthony. Yes, Firrito has been a fine servant, everything good must end. His season finished poorly last year and so far in 2012 he’s struggled. His game against the Dogs was horrible.

    THomas can’t be relied on. His grubber miss against the Dogs was so telling. How do you think he’d go in the finals heat?

    Time for tough decisions if we’re to make next step.

  14. Firrito started this season in spectacular fashion, but he’s gone downhill rather quickly. Half of the side is still living in the glory of that Geelong match. Last sighting of the real Jack Ziebell was on the boundary line 50m out where he kicked that goal. He needs to get with the present.

    Anthony is a good at finding the ball, but disposes of it in a horrid fashion sometimes, not to mention he’s scared of the contest.

    Thomas plays his 100th game this week, and what a weird and wonderful 100 games it has been. I like him, he has a spot on our list. The missed shots at goal are damn frustrating, but his attack on the ball and the contest so far this season has been spectacular. Agree on Campbell, should trade him to someone like Sydney.

    Hope Lachie gets a game this weekend. Anchor him at full forward and watch him destroy Maguire.

  15. Andrew Starkie says:

    You’re right about half the team living on rd 3, Josh.

    I feel it’s time the club made a few hard decisions. Spud has been great, but time waits for no one. You can’t win flags with weak links and I’m sorry, but Lindasy is one. Look at Milney at st Kilda. Sure, the fans love him but how has he gone in big games? Can you trust Lindsay to get the job done in September? He could kick five or not get near it. Do you want to take the risk?

    I think Scott has put a line under Lochie. i hope so. He’s too slow up top and lacks the required intensity. Again, a weak link. Aaron’s no Carey, but a better option. Drew should play full forward for the remainder of his career. He’s 29? and with his history of injury, should never and I mean never play in the ruck. Whenever I see him up the ground i fear he will break another foot. And if he does, it’s career over.

    Anthony has more upside and Jack will be a star, don’t worry about that.

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