Why Collingwood can’t win it
Collingwood were on top of the world before Friday, seemingly unstoppable and had the feeling of an AFL premiership coming their way.
The Magpies ruled the AFL last week. But they were brought back to earth with a thud after copping a nasty wake-up call during Friday night’s blockbuster against Geelong.
Described as pretenders after their 36-point loss to the Cats, Collingwood simply didn’t have the goal-scoring power to match Geelong.
When you look at the stats, Geelong’s midfield totally smothered the Pies, who couldn’t keep up with the likes of Gary Ablett, James Kelly and Jimmy Bartel.
The Magpies are a young team and their lack of maturity was a glaring weakness against a sturdier Geelong outfit. The younger Pies have to develop poise and character if they are to convert on the run in pressure-cooker matches.
The Cats appeared sluggish in pre-season and seemed rattled after the Stokes’ drug case and speculation over Ablett’s future in the Sunshine State. But Geelong has bounced back with pride, showcasing its brilliant midfield and depth of goal-kicking talent.
The quality of a club’s leadership often reflects on-field results. I look at the environment Mick Malthouse has created at Collingwood.
After Malthouse’s early-season faux pas (calling Saint Stephen Milne a rapist), he has coached better than ever, showing the focus and intensity that is needed to get wins on the board.
Malthouse knows the Magpie community expects nothing short of a premiership and he is determined to deliver it.
But can they win? I doubt it. He simply doesn’t have the leadership group and players with goal-kicking power to match it with a team of Geelong’s calibre.
And the threat of the Colliwobbles always looms. The Pies can’t shake the wobbles from their psyche. How can Malthouse help erase that crushing mentality?
And then I look at Geelong, led by a very cool Cat in Mark Thompson, now an experienced premiership coach.
Thompson is a great motivator of young men who is astute in his communication.
He recently told of Ablett’s ‘mediocre’ performance against the Blues last month. Ablett had 33 touches, and was one of the best on ground, but it was the fuel Ablett needed to help lead from the midfield with a team focus.
In Ablett’s following match against the Swans, he collected 38 possessions and proved to his coach he was a valuable linkman, not just a ball-getter.
Geelong’s current form is in the premiership class. For Collingwood, they have to reassess their forward structure to boost their power for goal.
And Fremantle’s been a darky that has emerged from the shadows, now sitting third on the premiership ladder. They will give the league’s leaders a real shake.
I’m tipping the Dockers will fly even higher next year, with a genuine chance of a Grand Final berth. They just need a finals campaign behind them to develop a premiership team.
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