Dockers coach Ross Lyon.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon. TONY MCDONOUGH

Experts query Freo coach's ability to adapt to modern game

FREMANTLE coach Ross Lyon could be behind the eight-ball in terms of adapting to the modern game, according to triple premiership Hawk Brian Lake and former Saints pupil Nick Dal Santo.

After guiding the Dockers to the grand final in 2013 and the preliminary final in 2015, Lyon's side faltered last year and endured a difficult 4-18 record across the campaign.

They have since started the current season with losses to the tune of 42 and 89 points against Geelong and Port Adelaide respectively, heaping the pressure on Lyon's shoulders.

And it's led to questions regarding whether the game has passed the Fremantle coach by, with Lake suggesting his team doesn't play a modern style of football offensively.

"Structurally, back at the Saints, you couldn't beat him," Lake told Fox Footy's AFL 360.

"The defensive side of his game was his go-to, it was his one-wood. But now the game has changed so much, how (teams) play so aggressive through the middle.

"Knowing they're going to get hurt on the counter, where Ross would like support and an extra number behind the ball - you can't play with that.

"You need even numbers around the contest as much as possible and even forward of centre. You can't afford to go five against six in your forward line."

Dal Santo spent five years working under Lyon at St Kilda, but agreed with Lake's comments, suggesting things were going wrong at both ends for Fremantle.

And the numbers support his view, with the Dockers ranking last in the competition for both points scored and points conceded after two games.

"The tough one for Freo and Ross is last year, they openly said they tried to be a bit too offensive and it wasn't working," Dal Santo said.

"So this year they just said they'd go back to what they know - they tried to be a little bit more defensive, but the game has changed again.

"They're getting caught out with that defensive structure as well. It's just not working either way."

The Dockers host the reigning premier Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.

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