After a period in history they would rather forget, the Melbourne Football Club’s future is bright despite the round one hiccup. Melbourne has gone through major changes over the off-season and coupled with an impressive pre-season performance, they are showing signs of improvement. Under Paul Roos’ guidance and the injection of key players such as Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson and Viv Michie has led supporters to finally believe they are turning around.
Going into the round one fixture against St Kilda, many fans believed the ‘voodoo’ of Etihad Stadium would be a factor of the past, allowing for a what seemed like a stronger Melbourne side to come out victorious. Melbourne finished with 408 disposals at 77 per cent efficiency which bettered St Kilda’s 348 at 74 per cent. Despite winning the hit outs, tackles and inside 50s Melbourne weren’t able to capitalise and lacked conviction in their goal kicking, converting only six of their 21 shots for goal.
This leads to the question of how can the Dees become more efficient going forward?
The simple answer is having the tall timber return. Mitch Clark, Jesse Hogan and Chris Dawes will all play a vital role in the success of the club. Having three of your key forwards out in any side will always prove tough to kick a winning score. Melbourne’s forward line was poor on the weekend mainly due to Jack Fitzpatrick’s injury late in the second term, leaving Cameron Pedersen to shoulder the majority of the work for the rest of the game while Tom McDonald battled through a corked thigh since the first quarter.
What you will see when Clark, Hogan and Dawes return is Melbourne’s kick to handball ratio displayed on the weekend improve. This is because these key targets will be able to provide direction and strong contests up forward to kick to. Pedersen struggled to impose himself in this manner for the whole game and as a result, Melbourne struggled to go direct, forcing unwanted turnovers due to overuse of the handball.
The return of these key targets will ultimately result in a more direct style of play from Melbourne, reducing the amount of handballs in order to get the ball in to the forward line a lot faster. Until then Melbourne fans will have to sit tight and watch a make-shift forward line go to work, hoping for Jack Fitzpatrick and Cam Pedersen to step up and convert their opportunities.
Melbourne fans have already seen signs of an improved midfield and a harder working defence, but without its key forwards the club will struggle to kick a winning score. Luckily for Demons fans, at the very least, Chris Dawes should be back in the next few weeks. While it’s forward line will struggle for the time being, the signs of a promising future are well and truly alive at the Demons.