B0D_03fIUAAKPFh

You could say that Adam Cooney has had a roller-coaster career thus far, heading into his 12th year of AFL football.

Cooney was taken by the Bulldogs as their number one priority pick in the 2003 AFL draft, before continuing on to win the highest individual accolade there is to win: the 2008 Brownlow Medal. His outstanding season helped lead the Western Bulldogs to a preliminary final showdown where they fell agonisingly short.

However, his career quickly took a downwards spiral as injuries hampered his next few years: Cooney was constantly being ruled out through his troublesome knee and muscle injuries.

After successful treatment on his knee in 2012, Cooney managed to stay injury free and play a lot more football than the two horrid years of 2011-2012, a time period where he only managed 27 games.

Cooney and the whole football world just about wrote himself off in 2012, thinking that he could never reach his peak level of football. But now,the fit, injury-free, rejuvenated, newly-signed Bomber is ready to raise the bar and get back to playing his best football.

So let’s take a look at Essendon and see how the addition of Adam Cooney can actually improve them.

Essendon

A year under interim coach Mark Thompson saw Essendon have a fairly successful season which saw them finish in seventh place, recording 12 wins and a draw in the process.

There were many positives to come out of their season:  the players efforts must be commended showing great strength, resilience and improvement in times where the ongoing drugs saga may have become too much to handle.

There were also positives from individuals as youngsters Zach Merrett and Joe Daniher were nominated for the rising star award. Meanwhile, some players took big steps forward in their development, seeing Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell and Jake Carlisle taking huge strides to becoming top players in the AFL.

Two experienced inclusions that Cooney can take confidence from are veterans Brendon Goddard and Paul Chapman, who contributed significantly to Essendon’s season. The pair of them averaged 23 and 20 disposals a game respectively, while adding a further 17 and 22 goals to their name in the process.

What he will bring

Consistency has always been a strength of Cooney’s game, typified through his career disposal average of 21.8. He prides himself on being able to penetrate through the middle, either on the inside or through his breakaway speed on the outside.

His elite ball use is what sets him apart from the rest as he is constantly able to create and score goals, averaging nearly a goal a game throughout his career.

When Essendon were playing their best more exciting football, it was when they had their key ball users Heppell, Goddard, Jobe Watson, David Zaharakis on the ball and working all over the ground, contributing in both attack and defence.

Goals were at a premium at times for the Bombers, which can be expected with their inexperienced youthful forward line: it saw Goddard occasionally move forward to add some fire power.

Goddard’s stints in the forward line had a positive influence on helping generate goals to the team but it would often come at a cost, as the Bombers would lose his penetration and kicking ability, acting as one of Essendon’s prime ball users.

This is where Adam Cooney comes into the fold.

Cooney’s inclusion could be used in the same mould as one of Goddard in that he could be used as a utility player for the Bombers. His versatility will be a handy inclusion as his ability to use the ball well – whether it’s in defence, midfield or the forward line – could prove to be an exciting prospect for Essendon fans.

Cooney’s ability to use his electrifying speed to burst away from packs, break lines and link up in the midfield will add a different dimension to the team. How the Bombers decide to utilise their former Brownlow Medallist will be one of interest to all Essendon fans.

His role could fill the hole that was created when players like Goddard moved away from the midfield to help the attack, or the likes of Jason Winderlich who constantly switched from defence to attack to add goals.

His presence in the side means that the Bombers will be able to keep their structures and keep their key players in their preferred positions.

If there is a time when a different creative spark is needed up forward or more drive through the midfield or down back, Cooney could provide some goals and ball movement without disrupting and moving players from all over the ground, such as in the cases of Goddard and Winderlich.

Taking all things into account, the Bombers will look to further develop as a football side this season, regaining their coach James Hird. Additionally, another full pre-season under the belt of a young Bombers list could see them make vast improvements to an impressive 2014.

With an even contribution all over the ground, as well as a key spine that can solidify the team in defence and help with the transition to attack, the inclusion of Adam Cooney suggests that James Hird will have an exciting list at his disposal.

There is really no reason – barring any unwanted injuries – why Essendon couldn’t make the climb this season and take another step further into another finals campaign.