This is either going to end up being fun, embarrassing, or fun for everyone else and embarrassing for me.
Everyone goes into a season with thoughts on how a team is going to fare, right? Normally through a simple ladder prediction, and then they’re forgotten about – unless you’re right of course, in which case you bump it with the quickness in September.
At the start of every season, normally I’ll collate my own thoughts on how I think each team will perform in a couple of sentences, checking back at regular points to see what I’ve got right, what I’ve got wrong, and also what I completely missed.
To use a couple of examples from last year, my Melbourne notes were along the lines of, ‘how to read the last few weeks of 2020. Where are they at without the ball? Have they given me any reason to trust anything they do yet?’
On a lighter note here’s one which makes me look slightly better, on St Kilda: ‘teams are going to adjust to their offensive strategy, unsure how they’ll adapt. Don’t like their pre-season, think they’ll slip a bit.’
This year I’m taking away my safety net of keeping these unfiltered thoughts to myself, written down in my trusty notebook. All out in public now, these are my preconceived notions on each team heading into Round 1.
Here we go. Time to look uneducated when we regularly glance back at these during 2022.
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– They won’t be able to catch teams by surprise to start like they did last year, can’t figure out their point of difference yet
– Highest priority needs to be figuring out who’s capable to be Thilthorpe’s long-term forward partner
– Want to see Schoenberg with full time on-ball minutes
– High on them, injuries permitting. Everything looks solid across all lines, my pre-season flag pick
– Hope they don’t experiment with Andrews not taking the number one forward, didn’t like that against the Bulldogs
– Fort playing Hipwood’s role until mid-season is the key, plenty of puns with his name
– Injuries permitting, they’ll be better than last year based on pre-season defensive structures
– Does ‘better’ mean 10 wins, or does it mean ‘finals’. Leaning towards finals
– Worry how they’ll hold up against quick sides given it’s not an overly fast midfield
– On paper they still have more top-level talent than the other supposed bottom-six teams
– Expecting a short term hit while McRae makes it clear what he wants to see
– Round 2 v Adelaide is going to tell a story of how to assess their first half of the year
– Little bit of an eyebrow raise at how they struggled to defend on the rebound in pre-season any time they put speed into the game going forward
– How are they going to kick enough goals regularly with their forward line? Hope they protect Jones for another year and allow him to develop at a normal pace
– If Reid gets fit and shows glimpses that’s going to solve a lot of puzzle pieces
– How on earth do I read them; 10 wins, but terrible % last year, still really like their talent
– They felt so close to breaking through a bunch of times last year, is no Cerra balanced out by more Fyfe midfield minutes
– Is it as simple as: regulation injury run = step forward in 2022
The plan with this to check back in at the mid-season point at the very least, and then again at the end of Round 23.
However, when sides either exceed or under-perform expectations, these notes will form the basis of future posts.
After all, I won’t be disappointed by a poor side if that’s what I thought would happen, and the same for any highly rated team which is taking all before it.
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– Don’t believe they can be at the same level as 2021 given the age profile
– How to figure out where they’ll drop to and how much home advantage will help them
– Will they be happy staying in the 5-8 range and seeing what breaks their way
– Wildcard is how Chris Scott will react if they have a sustained run of poor form, hasn’t experienced it for so, so long
– Much better balance between slow and fast ball movement compared to last year
– What’s a realistic expectation for results without King this year
– A fit Rowell alongside Miller and Anderson as first choice on-ballers is eye catching
– Pre-season ball movement looks like it could get too stilted, too easily once again
– What can they get to break out of the mid-pack it feels like they’re in, this is the story for them
– Feels like the run of wins to end last year isn’t something that’ll translate
– Who are their young guys that’ll pop out to an A-grade level apart from Ward, their midfield looks pedestrian
– What style is Mitchell going to put on the team and how long will it take to see legitimate glimpses
– Can’t find anything out of the ordinary around the team
– Potential questions about motivation after the premiership, but that won’t pop up until after the honeymoon period wears off
– Is Weideman a sunk cost at this point, do they try to force feed him games
All North thoughts for the upcoming season will arrive in a separate post on Monday.
(Sorry for those who clicked and thought they were getting something substantial here)
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– Nothing wrong with being in the second tier of teams again as long as there’s continued growth in the under 23’s
– If there’s a Boak drop off that can be countered by Butters lighting the midfield up; if the same happens with Gray do they lean on Rozee more or does someone else step up in the forward half
– If Marshall is going to be more than a second or third tall, feels like this is the year to decide it
– How long is it going to take to reveal what they have left in the tank, expecting them to look like a normal good side for the first month or so
– Do they abandon the three tall forwards if Tarrant has a slow start or there are long term injuries
– There are going to be bumps with the new offensive structure; do they react to those by fighting through it or reverting to type, that’ll probably be the big picture story of their season
– Another of the mid-pack teams, the issue being they’re set up to win now with list profile
– Feels a worry how much they rely on Ryder. Although a good reflection on him he’s still that valuable when he plays, even at this stage of his career
– What wiggle room do they have in their list if they don’t pop a step or two ahead of the mid-pack? Not a heap of long-term contracts which gives them flexibility, desperately need a huge year from their midfield points of difference to give them some spark
– Teams are going to be ready for them this year, feels like they’re better prepared for it than St Kilda last year
– Paddy McCartin looks like he’s fitted in straight away, if he stays healthy the brothers are going to be a great combination
– Expecting a consolidation year to prove they belong in the above average tier at the very least
– A complete mess so far (I did mention these notes were unfiltered)
– Feels like a natural end to this cycle of the team
– Is there any way they change tack in-season, or do they try and battle it out
– Such a high floor to the team given their on-ball talent
– Unsure how their current forward setup is going to kick enough goals to propel them from the second tier of teams to alongside Melbourne and Brisbane
– What constitutes an acceptable year from Ugle-Hagan? Is it goals based, maybe even just a certain amount of games. Would settle for 10-12 games