“The game is based around winning finals … we don’t want to be a good footy club, we want to better than that”
– Don Pyke
So as a disappointing night in Sydney draws to close, so does season 2016 for the Adelaide Football Club. In May 2015, I tweeted that 2017 would be Adelaide’s season. The year where the last few years of work all comes together. At the time, I thought that the younger players would have played a good chunk of footy by then, Taylor Walker would be completely confident with his knee and Brad Crouch will have overcome his injury issues. Granted, I did not predict the loss of a coach in such circumstances, but did see Patrick Dangerfield’s departure coming. So far though, everything appears on track and season 2017 will begin in just six short months.
— Thomo (@liamthompson1) May 30, 2015
The Crows get a pass mark for season 2016. Just. They dealt well with the emotional toll of changing to yet another coach and the one year anniversary of the death of Phil Walsh. The Crows achieved sixteen wins including two Showdown victories, two wins in Perth in the same season and a big win in an Elimination Final. All in all, a pretty handy season. However, handy seasons do not win premierships. Brilliant seasons win premierships and in turn create greatness.
The ‘just pass’ mark is granted because realistically the Crows should have finished top four. The loss against West Coast at home on a Friday night destroyed any hopes of greatness this year for Adelaide. That was such a disappointing loss. It would have set up two home finals. Win them and you are into the big dance.
In order to create this greatness, there are a few things that need to be done in the off-season to ensure that the footy club remains on track heading into the new year.
They need an elite midfielder and they need one with pace. Tom Rockliff is not the answer. He does not inject enough speed. Nat Fyfe could be the answer. Lure him. Or if not him. Lure the second best that there is out there. Adelaide have to be bold and have to be brave. They have to go after what they want and then secure it. Plenty of clubs have done that to the Crows. It is time to repay the favour. Give up the first round draft pick if that is what it takes. The list is in a position where I feel the first rounder can be offered up.
Adelaide also need to be brutal. By all reports Scott Thompson will be given another year. That is good news for him and great for a champion of the club. I do not necessarily agree, but if that is the case, he cannot be an automatic starting pick next year. If he is not in form, he does not play. There was times this year that those at SANFL level were in far better form, but were not picked because Thompson was not dropped. For the future of the club, that cannot be allowed to happen again.
Hopefully depth players can be kept, but you could not blame the likes of Mitch Grigg, Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Andy Otten if they wanted to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
Sam Jacobs had a poor year by his standards. Riley O’Brien must be given the chance to have a great pre-season and I do not think that Jacobs is a lock in for a place in Adelaide’s best 22 in 2017. A big call I know, but if O’Brien continues his good form during the pre-season, he could be more than just a back up ruckman next year.
So far, two list changes have been confirmed. The retirements of Matthew Jaensch and Nathan van Berlo.
So who else goes?
David Mackay – Must be traded or at the very least not picked in front of players who are clearly in better form. Has never reached his potential on Adelaide’s list and it was a major mistake to sign him to a four-year deal. He does not add a point of difference and is far too inconsistent.
Richard Douglas – If you keep Thompson, you cannot keep Douglas. They are both lacking pace and the skill they once possessed. See what value he has on the open market. His goal kicking needs work.
Mitch Grigg – Will seek more opportunity interstate.
Jarryd Lyons – Do not like the idea of this one, but he remains unsigned and his spot will be taken if Adelaide can secure that elite midfielder. Has had a break out year and thrived on the opportunities he has been given. Will be worth something on the trade table.
Ricky Henderson – Has fallen behind Paul Seedsman and probably even Hampton in pecking order now. Body is a worry and imagine he is frustrated through lack of opportunity. Would be surprised if he remains a Crow.
Keenan Ramsey and Paul Hunter- New CBA could impact what happens to them next year if rookie listed is scrapped. Although cannot see them on Adelaide’s list in 2017 regardless.
What needs work?
Over the pre-season Adelaide need to add more grunt as well as an increased hardness at the ball. Charlie Cameron should be given the job of tackling coach. He can tackle. Many of the other major ball winners at Adelaide cannot. The Crows are not a team that is feared. Hawthorn and Geelong are. They must intensify their controlled aggression and even add a hint of unsociable football to their repertoire.
There was a Thursday night game against Collingwood in 2014 where Adelaide tackled like it was the only thing that mattered. It has never occurred since. It must be worked on.
The good stuff
On a more positive note, the recruits from 2015’s silly season Curtly Hampton, Paul Seedsman and Troy Menzel will have another pre-season under their belt and will be better for it. They are all chances for round one selection next year.
Riley Knight can hopefully put his injury worries behind him, Ellis-Yolmen can have a season where he is given ample opportunity to prove his worth and Harry Dear will hopefully take his game to the next level. My hot tip for 2017 is that Harrison Wigg will debut and he will impose himself at AFL level. He can play. Mitch McGovern now has a year of AFL behind him and will be confident in knowing that his body can stand up to the rigours of AFL footy. Forgotten men Wayne Milera and Dean Gore will also be raring to go. Gore does provide a bit of that grunt and aggression that Adelaide lack and Milera provides much needed pace.
The Club is in good shape off the field as well. Andrew Fagan has made a big difference, Rob Chapman quietly does his role well too. The potential loss of David Noble is not necessarily a bad thing. He has been around the Club for a while now and it seems there is enough good systems in place to cover his absence. It will not hurt to bring in a fresh face to keep things ticking along either.
So was 2016 a wasted year? Not at this stage. We will find out this time next year the answer to that. There are plenty of lessons to be learnt though. Ultimately, Adelaide has a decent list and there is no reason to panic yet. A few tweaks here and there and a big gun midfielder will certainly be a big boost.
In saying that, in 2017 Adelaide will have to show greater signs of on-field improvement for it not to be a fail. Given where the list is at, two Semi Final losses pretty much means anything short of a Preliminary Final next year will be a step backwards.
Enjoy the Summer Crows fans!