WHY NO HEAT ON SIMON GOODWIN?

Have you heard the excuse that a lot of the Dees went in for surgery after the 2018 season, and that’s why they’ve been so poor? Do you buy it?

I don’t.

What I don’t understand is why Melbourne, after making the finals once, has been given a free pass this season. They celebrated a little early in 2017, if I remember correctly. Wasn’t there some finals paraphernalia sent out to members despite not actually making the finals? It appears jumping the gun is a bit of a habit with the Dees.

This season, people were talking about them taking the next step. Instead, they tripped, fell and crashed to the ground, with only Gold Coast worse-performed at this stage of the season. Yeah, players went deep into September for a change – so did three other teams (West Coast, Collingwood and Richmond). All those teams will play finals again this season. Why is Melbourne given a free pass?

Simon Goodwin was given a contract extension before the start of 2019 as a result of the team making finals last year. Did the Dees jump the gun? And why is he escaping the same scrutiny that Alan Richardson, Brendon Bolton, Brad Scott received, and Don Pyke and Ken Hinkley are under right now.

The Dees have been absolutely putrid, and the blowtorch needs to be turned on this team in a big way. Oh, but Steven May was unfit, and Jake Lever was coming back, and Jack Viney is always bloody injured, and Tom McDonald forgot how to play forward.

Excuses, excuses.

They beat West Coast, GWS, Geelong and Hawthorn in consecutive games before they ran into the Eagles again and their season was over. It was an impressive month and a half that concluded a week too early. Prior to that they hadn’t beat a top eight team all year.

People are writing this year off as an anomaly for the Dees, but what if last season was the anomaly? What if they’re still the same, under-achieving bunch of frontrunners they’ve always been?

Unfortunately, we won’t get to find out until next season, and if last year was the anomaly, the Dees will be stuck with Goodwin, going nowhere, until 2022.

WHO IS PART OF THE ADELAIDE CLEAN OUT?

You know it’s coming – the Adelaide Crows are about to have a fire sale.

Cam Ellis-Yolmen is an unrestricted free agent. Hugh Greenwood is out of contract, as is Alex Keath. Darcy Fogarty is getting his first game of the season this week after ten last year, Josh Jenkins has been dropped again, Sam Jacobs is a second-tier ruck in the wake of Reilly O’Brien, and both Eddie Betts and Bryce Gibbs have seen time in the SANFL.

You’ve got Malcolm Blight attempting to cajole the Crouch brothers into heading to Gold Coast in exchange for more draft picks, and there are drums beating for the coach.

Damn you Crows – I tipped you for the flag!

The strange thing is that Adelaide, taking on the Saints at Adelaide Oval, have the chance to solidify their finals chances with a win this week. Even stranger, is that the Saints would consider themselves a red hot chance against the Crows.

So, if there is to be a fire sale in Adelaide, the plans for it will be set in motion this weekend. Who’s buying, and what have you got your eye on?

WILL ALEX RANCE RETURN FROM AN ACL BEFORE IZAK RANKINE RETURNS FROM A HAMSTRING/HIP INJURY?

Has this ever happened before? Rankine went down with a pretty decent tear of his hammy in the pre-season. Rance has gone down in Round One with an ACL, yet here we are talking about Rance making a comeback this season and we still haven’t see Rankine make his debut for the Suns after tweaking something in his hip in the NEAFL.

Was this the worst hamstring injury in history? We were told it would be eight weeks, and we were told Rance wouldn’t play this season. What the hell is going on here?

I doubt Rance will get back – the risk of re-injuring himself, and the lack of match fitness should mean the Tigers err on the side of caution, but if he is declared fit, maybe the Tigers roll the dice? Of course, if ever there was a cautionary tale, we saw it with Dale Morris last week.

Will we see Rankine this season? The kid was so highly rated it’d be a shame to lose the entirety of his debut season to complications stemming from a hammy injury, but I doubt you’d risk him at this stage, especially since he’s already recommitted to the club.

IF THE BLUES BEAT THE EAGLES, IS THE AFL TURNED ON ITS HEAD?

A month or so ago, this would have been viewed as an easy kill for the Eagles, but the Blues have been revitalised under David Teague to the point where the Carlton fans are actually up and about around the possibility of a fourth straight win!

The Eagles, meanwhile, looked ominous as they handled North Melbourne with Josh Kennedy kicking the lazy seven, Jack Darling looking like he was the early 2018 version of himself again, and Andrew Gaff having arguably his best, most impactful game of the season.

We’ve gone from having a game with little interest to the casual supporter into this possibly being the most interesting game of the week. Will Elliot Yeo head to Patrick Cripps, or does Mark Hutchings get the job? Will Sam Walsh be able to match the running power of Gaff? Can Ed Curnow curtail the influence of Luke Shuey?

This game should be a ripper (I’ve put my hand up to cover it for The Mongrel) and will go a long way to seeing just how much the Blues have improved, and just how serious the Eagles are about securing that coveted top two spot.

My prediction? Eagles by six goals after the game is relatively even half way through the third, though I will miss hearing about how the Blues are a mathematical chance… I’ve had less trouble understanding Pythagoras’ theory than I have how the Blues could make September.

IS AARON NAUGHTON V HARRIS ANDREWS A CLASSIC MATCHUP IN THE MAKING?

I’m looking forward to this one. I’m a big fan of great one-on-one matchups, as evidenced by the way I gushed over the Daniher v Moore clash earlier in the year. I was hopeful that’d be one of those clashes we could look forward to every year, but with both blokes seemingly held together with sticky tape and luck, I’ve turned my attention elsewhere.

Andrews is a contest-killing monster. Sure he looks like he could play one of the main roles if they ever reboot Revenge of the Nerds, but his defensive ability cannot be denied. Naughton is the young, marking forward that teams dream of. He trails only Tom J Lynch in contested marks for the season, and is still just 19 years old.

Forget Daniher v Moore; this one could be the match up that drags fans through the gates for years to come.

IS JAKE STRINGER PRIMED TO TEAR SEPTEMBER APART?

I took the time this week to sit down and watch Footy Classified for the first time in ages as I wanted to see just how much the panel concentrated on the good footy Stringer and Essendon were playing, and how much they decided to concentrate on his previous indiscretions.

Turns out it was about a 50/50 split, which is pretty good considering who is on the panel.

But the way Stringer has been able to impose himself on games in recent weeks warrants a bit more attention. He has multiple goals in the last four games for the Bombers – all wins, and his ability to inject himself into the middle of the ground when Essendon need a clearance is the sort of action of a player who is on, and knows it.

Stringer is playing with an abundance of confidence, and is starting to look like the player Essendon expected when they recruited him. His goals per game average is his highest other than his All-Australian 2016 season, and his defensive efforts have improved as well (his 3.33 tackles per game is easily a career-high).

I’m looking forward to seeing what Stringer can do on the biggest stage. He has not been 100% fit in recent weeks, but he has been amongst Essendon’s best on several occasions. Hats off to him.

ARE COLLINGWOOD AT RISK OF LOSING DARCY MOORE?

Didn’t we just talk about this after last season? I thought in the minds of many, he was off to Sydney after last season, and now he is contracted to the Pies until the end of NEXT season.

So where’s all this coming from that the Bulldogs are after him? And what would they be willing to give up to obtain him?

Moore started the season in a blaze of glory, and would’ve been in many rolling All-Australian teams at the halfway point, but those hamstrings… it is definitely buyer-beware with him.

Would you take a gamble on him? At his best, he is such a smooth-moving defender. At his worst, he is an injury-liability.

IS “LUCKING OUT” IN SEARCH OF A RUCKMAN THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO ST KILDA?

I don’t know who makes list decisions at St Kilda, but is someone can actually check they have a functioning brain, that’d be great.

You see, they have this bloke named Rowan Marshall, who is still pretty raw. He is a beast, with so much upside that it’s ridiculous. He is second in clearances for ruckmen in the league and has proven he can go toe-to-toe with some of the best in the game…

… yet the Saints are chasing Todd Goldstein and Sam Draper?

It appears as though fate is smiling on the Saints, however, as both Goldstein and Draper look set to remain with North and Essendon respectively, meaning that St Kilda is being saved from their own stupidity.

If only the footy gods had saved them from recruiting the broken down Hannebery as well.

IF COLLINGWOOD LOSE TO GOLD COAST…

… they’re cooked.

The Suns played with confidence and dare last week against the Bombers, and if they repeat this against the slumping Pies, a huge upset could be on the cards.

The Pies are without Jordan de Goey, which is a huge blow, but get Taylor Adams back, which is a huge boost to their midfield, as he is a two-way runner. De Goey, as good as he is, only runs one way, and for good reason – it’s where the goals are.

I don’t want to curse the bloke, but I reckon this is the game that Mason Cox reasserts himself. Jack Hombsch goes out, leaving Chris Burgess and Charlie Ballard to combat Cox and Mihocek. It spells trouble.

On a side note, how much must it suck to be Corey Ellis? Couldn’t get a game at the Tigers and is now being dropped by the Suns. The writing is on the wall there.

WHERE IS TEX AT?

Another Crows point, I know, but the Adelaide captain is a conundrum wrapped in a riddle, circling several points of uncertainty. I don’t recon his body is right at all – either that or his opting out of physical clashes needs to be addressed, but he has looked a little heavy to me all season.

That’s not saying he’s fat or anything snarky like that – hell I have mirrors in my house, and a missus who lets me know in no uncertain terms I could drop five kilograms – I just reckon he is lacking in agility at the moment.

He is averaging 12.28 touches and 1.78 goals per game, yet it is Josh Jenkins who is feeling the wrath of match committee despite comparable stats of 12.36 touches and 2.00 goals per game. Yeah, Tex has plenty of runs on the board, but Jenkins’ returns from 2016-18 far outweigh those of Walker

For 2020, the Crows fitness staff would be well-served in concentrating a little less on the power work with Tex and getting him some flexibility and agility back into his game. He’s turning like a container ship at times this year and is doing himself a disservice. He’s also handing his critics plenty of ammunition in the process.

I don’t think he’s a spent force by any stretch, but I don’t think he is anywhere near fit this season. I’ll be judging him on how he starts 2020.

HOW UNLUCKY IS DOUGAL HOWARD? AND SCOTT LYCETT TOO?

Far out Ken Hinkley… what the fuck are you doing?

Dougal Howard is a contest killing defender. He’s right up there with Harris Andrews in terms of young defenders who can have a massive influence on a game simply by nullifying the long ball inside 50.

So you play him forward and it doesn’t work… I get that there is a need to experiment and all, but then you drop him back to the SANFL? Ken… I’ve often thought your critics would find something to whack you for irrespective of what you did, but this is a boneheaded coaching move if I’ve ever seen one.

Scott Lycett is a bullocking, powerhouse ruck who could’ve had a field day against an obviously overmatched Zac Clarke.

You’ve dropped Ryder, Dixon, Duursma, Westhoff, Powell-Pepper, Marshall and now Howard and Lycett. What point are you trying to make? Are you going for shock value? Are you trying to instil a feeling on instability?

If you play young blokes out of position, and out of form as a result, the failure is not on them – it’s on you. If anyone should be dropped, I reckon it’s probably not Dougal Howard.

And it’s getting late now. Be sure to check out our deep dive game reviews this weekend. I’ve got four, yep four Good, Bad and Ugly columns going up over the weekend, and if you want more of my content, please consider becoming a patron of the site. $4.50 a month gets all short and long form articles, but if you can afford any more, we’d be really appreciative… plus you’ll get a few extras (wink wink… I’ll do anything)