Reasons to be cheerful.
1. Alan Richardson. Make no mistake, we are in good hands. We have learned our lessons well. GT was a charismatic leader, whose ability to motivate and inspire was strong, particularly amongst the younger players. Not so much with the older ones. He created an exciting and dynamic environment, in which creativity was valued. He didn't lack a technical and tactical side, but he was often said to be slow or reluctant to act. He had the best list I've ever seen at the saints. 2004-5 should've seen us salute. Took on too much and needed to be in control. It was his undoing in the end, along with his volatile falling out with RB. RL was very much the opposite. Measured, calm, respected rather than liked, he has a great footy brain, but like GT, could be stubborn to the point of self destruction. Where GT was all for flair, RL invested heavily in his structures, processes and plans. He came oh so close. He was not a great developer of talent, rather he backed himself to make players what he needed to fit the plan. I can't help thinking the likes of Stanley, McEvoy and Lynch would've become great players for us under GT. And we would never had taken Lovett if GT had been there. Nick would've convinced GT not to do it. As for Watters, he was a decent enough bloke, who like Mark Neeld, drank the poison bath water of Mickey Shithouse. A potentially good coach ruined by the MM mantra of being your own man and calling the shots. To pull off the hard guy act, you have to be one in the first place. Otherwise you just come off like a try hard jerk. The nickname of "cuddles" doesn't help your cause, either. At least it delivered us AR. He is the best bits of RL and GT. Liked, respected, develops and trusts his assistants (doesn't burn them out and frustrate them RL) and seems to have a healthy relationship with the playing list. He is very savvy in the tactics department and has assembled a great team around him. The administration has never looked better, either. We are moving into a 2004-11 era again. This time, we won't blow it.
2. Exciting youngsters. Ross, Acres, Billings, McCartin, Dunstan, Gresham, Freeman, McKenzie, White, Newnes, Steele, Long, Battle and Pierce. Several with the potential to be elite. I think at least four will end up there over the next three years. Our development coaches are doing a great job. Draft position is important, but development after you get young players is so much more important.
3. Sweet spot recruiting. Carlisle, Brown, Stevens, Savage and Roberton. All good. Carlisle to be elite.
4. The CEO, Bains, Trout, Peter Summers and the Board. Not since the days of Huggins, Drake and Jeans has the club been in better hands.
5. Burgeoning membership. On track for 40k. Best and most loyal supporters in the comp.
Reasons to be fearful.
1. The coming dominance of the GWS. Hopefully they won't be another BL or Hawthorn. Just our luck that our rapid improvement is coinciding with their maturation into an awesome side. Hopefully, the other clubs can keep pinching players from their list and thin out the herd a bit.
2. The AFL's determination to make the new boys succeed. See above. Watch out for the GCS as well. I had a look at their list. Even without JOM and Prestia, it has awesome potential. Luckily they've not had a coach the players connect with. Bluey a bit of a goose, rocket is very much past his use by.
3. The NZ experiment. Just give it up. If you're looking for a new market go to India. We have the ultimate marketing machine. Shane Warne. Two games in New Delhi and Mumbai. Millions of dollars to play each game. If Warney got on the wireless and telly and told Indians to go to these games, they would. Make Warnie an official AFL ambassador. Imagine going into a potential market of 1.2 billion and growing. A middle class of 120 million. Makes NZ look sick by comparison. Makes the Australian market look meagre by comparison. Venues not a problem. They'll just build new ones.
4. No getting under the opposition's guard this year. They're onto us and AR's methods for rapid ball movement. Last year was good, this year we have to be even better again. The game is changing so rapidly. Fewer stoppages seems to be the mantra from HQ. Make the game more attractive. Run and spread. Even quicker movement. Over to you, AR.
Winmar to LOCKETT!!!!!