As the dust settles on a tumultuous weekend for Melbourne, the club should be well on the way to addressing what went horribly wrong in just its first game of the season.
The fact that first game player Jack Viney was forced to pick up the pieces during and after the match ultimately raises more questions than answers.
In a side that is filled with more experienced players than in previous years, it was somehow left to the debutant to address the players after the game and remind them what it means to play for Melbourne.
Despite being one of the newer players at the club, it was Viney who ironically appeared to know more about Melbourne and its culture than most.
After the game, the sparse crowd of just over 22,000 let their emotions run wild. The vociferous boos that echoed around the MCG indicated to the players and senior officials alike that they are simply sick of the lack of progress at Melbourne.
Melbourne football legend David Schwarz delivered a spray on Melbourne talkback radio just hours after the dismal display, stating that it was the worst performance from Melbourne since 2003. As footy fans are well aware, the past decade has not been the best of periods for Melbourne’s on-field performance.
Melbourne co-captain Jack Grimes pleaded with fans to stay with them and still turn up to this week’s match against Essendon.
“We want them to stick with us,” Grimes said on Wednesday.
“The consistency that we have got to in our training, it will come out in our games.”
Over the off-season, Melbourne took the approach of copying the Sydney Swans recruitment style. They brought in relatively experienced heads such as David Rodan, Cameron Pedersen, Shannon Byrnes, and to a lesser extent, Tom Gillies.
The clear difference between the way Sydney, amongst other teams, have “recycled” players and the way Melbourne approached their recruitment is quite simple.
In Sydney’s case, they have brought in older players with little expectation placed on them. These players would not be forced to play a huge role early on at their new club and instead would be given time to find form.
In stark contrast, Melbourne has been painfully short of leaders and since the retirement of favourite son Brad Green, the issue has intensified.
Byrnes and Rodan were discarded by their clubs and thrown into an environment that they simply weren’t accustomed to. In Round 1, we saw the effects of hurling these experienced players into the deep end. Instead of helping the team, it worked in the complete opposite way.
Byrnes, Pedersen, Rodan and Gilles only amassed 45 possessions, an average of just over 11 per player. Between the four players, only two contested marks were taken.
These statistics are admittedly affected due to the overall poor performance by the Demons throughout the game. But if Melbourne is to take anything from the match, it is that it shouldn’t be relying on its new recruits to carry the team throughout the season.
On the back of the poor showing, players such as Aaron Davey and Neville Jetta will be strongly looked at by head coach Mark Neeld. They should be able to provide that spark that was missing against Port Adelaide.
Melbourne have a chance to improve on their performance against Essendon, a team it has done relatively well against in recent years. While it may not win, it is imperative that all 22 players put in an effort for the jumper, something that only a few could say they did last weekend.
As the season rolls on, Melbourne will need a solid effort from all their players. While the experienced heads that have been recruited should be able to lift the team next weekend, they should not be relied upon like they were in round one.
The Demons have been the talk of the footy world this week and they will no doubt come out breathing fire against Essendon.
For the sake of the fans it is vital that all players step up to the plate and perform at their peak, and do not purely rely upon the new recruits.