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The Red and The White – AJ is back

The Red and The White – AJ is back

 

AJ is back. I started writing this piece earlier in the week about where the Swans were at this year and beyond. However the news of the amazing return of 2012 Premiership player Alex Johnson after nearly 6 years out changes the discussion. All pessimism and doubt is put into perspective. After five knee reconstructions and twelve operations in total, Alex has persevered and shown amazing resilience to make it back to the highest level. Make no mistake AJ was a very good player, arguably one of the best in our 2012 triumph. My focus is now purely on this week against the Magpies. I just want to see Alex run out, do well and make it through. The rest will take care of itself.

 

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Swan dive? End of an era? The critics are predicting the demise of my Swans …. perhaps out of the finals for the first time since 2009 and maybe on a permanent slide?

 

When I last contributed to this site the Swans had just defeated the top placed Eagles and had won six games in a row. For the first time I was thinking of September glory. Since the mid year break though it’s not gone to plan, with only one exciting last gasp win out of five matches.

 

What’s gone wrong? The expected returns of Reid and Melican have not eventuated, and have been compounded by the loss of experienced midfielders, McVeigh, Hannebery and Jack, albeit the latter two were not in great form. Rohan is out, though he was not in great form either, he usually provides great forward pressure. Buddy is playing injured and is predominantly supported up forward by a host of relatively young players. Our once dominant midfield is quite threadbare with a big load on Kennedy and Parker who look beaten up. These injuries have resulted is an over reliance on the younger players to step up, plus a realisation that perhaps a cohort of players in their early to mid twenties are not quite up to it. The depth of our squad is being challenged.

 

Once we falter the pundits always pull out the same old analysis – we are old, slow, defensive and too reliant on Buddy. I think it’s a pretty shallow assessment. We are not the only team to have been struck by injury, though perhaps not as many as some (like Collingwood) ours are quite strategic with a host of talls and experienced midfielders not available.

 

We are part way in to a rebuild looking to add pace and skill to the squad. I think our recruiters have done well and we are well placed for the future with the likes of Heeney, Mills, Hewitt, Papley, Hayward, Florent, Ronke, Dawson, O’Riordon, Aliir and Mc Cartin in the mix, with Stoddart and Ling still to emerge.

 

However while the likes of Marsh, Newman, Robinson, Fox, Foote and Rose are serviceable they are not likely to have the class to take us forward to our next Premiership. Then there is Rohan and Towers, both first round picks who have never really reached their full potential and time is running out for them. I think all of these players will be looked at come end of season.

 

Whether we can rebound this year is problematic. Not too many off our injury list are due to return any time soon. We might sneak in though I doubt we have the cattle to cause much damage in the finals this year. So where does this leave us?

 

I have loved every minute of Buddy playing for us, what a champion! However I think with him and Tippett in the squad, the squeeze on the salary cap has restricted our ability to recruit mid range players in to the mix, which was something we use to do so well. So with Tippo off our books next year we should have some capacity to chase a few players. I reckon we need to target some experienced inside mids during the trade and draft periods to support the old hands. Once we get the contested side of the game right, the rest falls in to place.  If we can get Naismith, Reid and Melican back, along with Callum Mills we have a really good squad. Then there is Nick Blakey, son of John who is due to join us as a tall forward cum midfielder. He is reported to be a gun, though lets not get ahead of ourselves.

 

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Sounds like I’ve given up on this season? Well not quite yet. I’m still on top or near to top in the footy tipping comps and I rarely pick against the Swans. I’m prepared to back us this week against the Pies, who have been struck again with another batch of injuries. Looks like a few of Macca, Hannas and Kizza may be back and of course the return of AJ will provide an unbelievable boost.

 

 

About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.

Comments

  1. AJ back. Swans beat Magpies. Back in eight. Who knows?

    Cheer cheer

  2. Rulebook says:

    The return of Alex Johnson is a remarkable win for persistence by both player and club every one wishes him all the best

  3. Ross Treverton says:

    I think you are spot on about the players who are under the gun come seasons end. I really liked the game of Dawson on Saturday night. Still more upside to the Swans than the pundits would have us believe, particularly with injuries. Wouldn’t like to see us chase Darcy Moore for 2019; Reid, Melican and Aliir are good candidates for his role – and he appears injury prone….

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