FOOTBALL NATION OPINION
MELBOURNE’S new coach Mark Neeld has run out of answers already and it’s not even the start of the season.
The Demons were demoralised by the Hawks on Saturday night. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised - but the raw fact was that the Demons were supposed to be a legitimate finals contender and improver this season.
Evidently, this NAB Cup match against Hawthorn was one of their strongest teams out on the paddock and they failed.
“What was my round one team seven days ago is now not, so it may not be in seven days time either,” Neeld said after the match.
“Right now if you want me to pencil in who’s going to play round one, I couldn’t give you too many names,” Neeld said.
Certainly there has been a focus on the development of Jack Watts, but there are a number of other players that have yet to fulfill their true potential.
Another who will be facing the heat this season will be Mitch Clark, who was the clubs’ lucrative recruit in last year’s trade period.
He was recruited to deliver up forward; to be their first big forward since the David Schwarz and David Neitz days.
The Dees aim to build their forward line around Watts and Clark and Jeremy Howe.
Another blow to the Dees during the week was the continued absence and off-field dramas of Liam Jurrah.
Fortunately, he’s back in the state but his mind is well and truly abroad.
So do we see a way forward for the Dees this season? Well if the NAB Cup is anything to go by – and sometimes it isn’t – then 2012 may well mirror the 2011 season. The true measure of improvement will come in the early rounds of the season for the Dees.
Neeld has some thinking to do. And it starts with who will be there for round one.
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