Lyons’ monotone beats Swans monotony by Andrew Gigacz

One thing I’ve noticed about St Kilda’s playing style since Ross Lyon took over as coach is that it sort of reflects his vocal characteristics: a lack of flare. When Lyon speaks his voice lacks cadence. This is not to say what he is saying is not intelligent and insightful. Indeed, since he took on the head-honcho role at Moorabbin, I’ve found him to be erudite and a great analyst. No doubt Lyon is a very enthusiastic coach but that just doesn’t quite come through in the way he speaks.

For a club that’s lead the way for the last half a century in having a high proportion of blond bombshells and other colourful characters, the game style under Lyon has often not matched this reputation. The Saints have had flarelessness (I know, it’s not a real word but it does sound good) written all over them.

And against the Swans, for most the first half at Ethihad Stadium on Saturday night, it was the same again. No flare. No sparkle. No glitz. No glitter. All those qualities that have we have come to expect over the years from the bleached-hair brigade, sadly lacking.

But then it happened. Just before the long break, after getting flattened underneath a screamer taken by Sydney’s Darren Jolly, Justin Koschitzke, almost unsighted until this point, turned the tables and took a speccy of his own over Jolly. It was the moment that sparked the entire St Kilda side.

All over the ground the Saints began to play inspired football. The midfield, recently renowned as being great in-and-under but lacking polish, suddenly began showing flare in spades, due in no small part to the addition of Goddard and Gram to its ranks. Kosi himself, whose own voice sometimes seems a bit cadentially (yeah, I know; that’s not a real word either) challenged, started to sparkle and exert real influence on the game. (You get the sense that Kosi might finally blossom if Steven King and Michael Gardiner can become consistent contributors.) In a matter of minutes the newly flashy Saints left the dour Swans far behind.

In the end it was St Kilda comfortably. Reflecting on Ross Lyon’s tenure as coach, now into its third season, it all began to make sense to me. He’s taken the team back to basics. There’s no point being able to do the flamboyant stuff if you can’t get the ball first or be able to stem the tide when it starts flowing the other way. It’s a bit like in cricket – there’s no point being able to hit the ball out of the park if you can’t keep the good balls out.

For Lyon, the first two years have been about making sure the team has the basics in place. Now that they appear to have accomplished that task, they look ready to start showing the flare required at appropriate times; to control the cadence of the match, alternating dourness and dazzle as required.

Whether Ross Lyon’s voice will be able to attain the same qualities remains to be seen. But as long as the St Kilda play with shine they displayed in the second half against Sydney, neither the Saints players nor their fans will care.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

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