What’s the real St Kilda?

Alan Richardson is in his fourth season as coach of the St Kilda Football Club. As he’s out of his rookie period as senior coach, and the list and team has been re-built with him, questions still linger over what the real St Kilda is. Whilst there have been obvious glimpses of a bright future – notably their victory over GWS – the last three weeks they’ve stagnated, and  may have shown the Saints are as far away from an elusive premiership as ever.

 

Friday the 5th of May 2017, the highest point for St Kilda since back-to-back-to-back Grand Finals – however your reflective emotions see those Grand Finals – from 2009 to the 2010 replay.

 

What did they do?

 

They beat the premiership favourite GWS Giants whom the previous week had beaten the reigning premiers. Whilst GWS had key outs from the previous week – Nick Haynes and Toby Greene – there is no questioning this victory should have been a statement. “Should have been”…

 

Since then, St Kilda had an under-whelming victory against Carlton, and deplorable performances against Sydney – in Melbourne – and the Western Bulldogs in which the score line somewhat flattered them.

 

It’s a season where St Kilda – perhaps prematurely – was expecting a finals campaign. It’s not over yet, but the season is quickly derailing, and they could be playing behind the eight ball before they know it.

 

Their next month is difficult to say the least. The Saints have Adelaide in Adelaide, an inform North Melbourne at Etihad, Gold Coast at Etihad – a game you’d certainly expect St Kilda to win – and Fremantle in Perth. After this month, they could very easily be 6-8 or 7-7 – depending on other results, making a rise into the top 8 even more difficult.

 

So what is St Kilda’s problem?

 

The playing list certainly needs work, as the Saints have supposedly been throwing around considerable cash to dominate midfielders.

 

Dustin Martin, Nat Fyfe, and Josh Kelly are some of the names being linked with multi-million dollar deals with the Saints.

 

A pacey dominate midfielder is certainly something the club needs as they lack pace, and penetration from defence. Jack Steven is perhaps the only current A grade midfielder whom was shut down the previous weekend by Lachie Hunter, who earned 7 coaches votes for his role.

 

Jack Billings, who will always have the tag of being drafted ahead of the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Luke McDonald, Patrick Cripps, and Zak Jones in what is being described as this generations ‘Super-Draft’ carries obvious expectations. He has shown glimpses of his capabilities, most notably the recent game against Carlton in which he kicked 5 goals, 30 disposals and 12 marks, but hasn’t – like other occasions – backed that up.

 

The other area of concern is the productiveness of their forward line without Nick Riewoldt. Riewoldt didn’t play on the weekend, and could only manage 7 goals with an inside 50 scoring conversion rate of only 27%.

 

Paddy McCartin was touted as the replacement for the post-Riewoldt era – he was the number 1 pick in the 2014 draft. Unfortunately he is yet to come on, but the pressure and expectations on him are perhaps uncalled for.

 

Like Tom Boyd – the number one pick of the 2013 draft – McCartin is a tall full forward with potential of possibly going up the ground if required – the lingering question behind that is his fitness which has been called into question. McCartin also faces challenges most footballers don’t, he suffers from diabetes – Sam Reid of the GWS Giants also suffers from diabetes. Whilst big players take a while to develop, McCartin will be taking inspiration from Tom Boyd’s 2016 Finals series – in particular his Grand Final performance – and Tom Hawkins’ 2011 Grand Final where both shook off the constant critics, and stamped their mark on the biggest stage possible.

 

If the Saints are to once again rise up the ladder and be a genuine contender like during the 2000’s, and not fall into mediocrity like Melbourne over the last decade, they’ll have to put faith into their young developing players. McCartin, Gresham, Billings, Dunstan, Acres and Steele are some of those names.

 

No doubt, St Kilda will have to go out and find a quick outside midfielder, and the skills of those mentioned will have to improve, but the core is there to continue to build a team around. Hopefully for the long-suffering Saints fans’ sake, Alan Richardson is the right man for the job.

 

Comments

  1. G’day Jake,

    Kicking efficiency is needed to our club. And quick handball and runs are needed in the congested field.

    Training young players to develop skills would be great rather than chasing experienced players.

    Then I would renew contracts with Riewoldt and Montagna.

    These are my thoughts.

    Go the mighty Saints!!

    Yoshi

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