Mick McGuane: Pressure on David Teague and his underperforming Carlton side
Mick McGuane: Pressure on David Teague and his underperforming Carlton side

McGuane: Blues need a sacrificial lamb

David Teague, the honeymoon is over.

I'm looking at you as much as the players you're demanding more ruthlessness from. What are you going to accept?

In labelling Carlton's team defence as the biggest issue in the first half of last week's defeat to Collingwood, it wasn't the first time Teague's used the 'ruthless' word.

It was also part of his post-match critique of last year's shock loss to Adelaide in Round 17.

The time has come for there to be a sacrificial lamb to make clear there will be consequences when there are repeated breakdowns or lacking efforts.

 

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And it's not Lachie Plowman, the man who copped the brunt of the external criticism for the number of goals he conceded, even if he could've been far stronger in the contest.

For me, it's Tom Williamson. Williamson can't survive the axe after what I saw take place last Thursday night.

High-priced recruit Adam Saad should be on notice, too, after a series of half-hearted efforts in the first two quarters of the same match. But first to Williamson.

A Carlton turnover in the centre - when Zac Williams slips and was caught holding the ball, having already missed a target in the same play - leads to Jordan De Goey putting through the opening goal, after a neat Jamie Elliott pass.

However, Williamson's inability as the spare defender to plug the hole is made worse by him being caught ball-watching and not even turning his head to where De Goey was.

Again as the spare man minutes later, Williamson casually rolls into his defensive 50, but fails to go anywhere near impacting Elliott's leading lane as the Pie marks and kicks their second goal.

In reality, Williamson wasn't in position to stop any of the options that unfolded for Collingwood in that passage.

Nothing about these two plays was ruthless, and he certainly didn't offer anything offensively on the night, either, with his almost game-low five disposals.

That brings me to Saad, who should've been red-faced in review this week. Three of the Magpies' 11 first-half goals can be credited to poor Saad decision-making in defence.

The first preceded Brody Mihocek's set shot in the dying minutes of the opening term, when the ex-Bomber - as the spare man - wasn't assertive enough with his positioning and was caught behind the contest.

Then there was Saad's decision not to involve himself as the third man in the marking contest where Will Hoskin-Elliott brings the Sherrin down and slots Collingwood's ninth goal.

Saad's regret was written all over his face and in his body language immediately afterwards.

 

 

That regret doesn't stop him soon after from letting Josh Daicos blow right by him to get goal-side into what we call 'the death zone', before popping through a simple goal from point-blank range.

It's an all-duck-or-no-dinner philosophy for the Bluebaggers at the moment.

Their offensive-defensive balance is completely out of whack and they won't win many games of footy until that's corrected.

 

What to do with Cripps?

We heard from Carlton's fitness boss Andrew Russell this week that Patrick Cripps should be in better shape this week after a 10-day break between Round 2 and 3 games for the Blues.

Teague told us there was nothing physically wrong with Cripps in his post-match press conference, so all we can do is take that on face value and assume he's fit when he crosses the white line.

The AFL’s rule changes haven’t helped Patrick Cripps. Picture: Michael Klein
The AFL’s rule changes haven’t helped Patrick Cripps. Picture: Michael Klein

I wouldn't be playing him in the middle for more than 60 per cent of game time.

What we know by now is he isn't a great runner and his disposal, clearance and tackle numbers have all gone south this year - albeit in a small sample size - from last season on per-100-minute numbers.

As part of this, the AFL's rule changes have created a different, more attacking version of the game that lessens the importance of Cripps' strengths in the clinches.

So who joins Sam Walsh and Zac Williams at the centre bounce when Cripps goes forward?

My opinion is it must be Ed Curnow, to perform a tagging role on the opposition's most damaging midfielder.

Curnow is a vital part of the jigsaw puzzle, because the way he's being used this year makes little sense to me.

He's Carlton's most disciplined defensive midfielder, but also coughs up the second-most turnovers on the team, so you don't want him getting the ball in his hands 30 times.

(On this note, Saad is the third-worst culprit at Ikon Park for turning the ball over, with 10 across the first fortnight)

 

 

With this in mind, if Curnow's not tagging, then why is he in the side? Get him to track Dockers veteran David Mundy, who, like Scott Pendlebury, was afforded far too much space last week.

A similar question can be asked of Marc Murphy, who's almost exclusively playing as a forward these days, and his body language tells me he hasn't completely bought into his new role.

I also query whether Williams can be a full-time midfielder rather than just the pinch-hitting wonder he was at the Giants.

Jacob Weitering still has room to improve despite winning Carlton’s best and fairest award last year. Picture: Michael Klein
Jacob Weitering still has room to improve despite winning Carlton’s best and fairest award last year. Picture: Michael Klein

Be free, Jacob

Jacob Weitering has already proven himself a very good, reliable key defender.

That doesn't mean he can't do more in his journey to becoming an elite AFL footballer, especially when you compare him with a player who was at the opposite end last week.

Collingwood's Darcy Moore has become arguably the best backman in the game for his ability to wonderfully mesh lockdown play with knowing when to attack.

Weitering is far too conscious of his direct opponent and that is limiting his impact. There's no doubt which of the two has been more influential this season.

The numbers paint a clear picture: Moore holds a significant edge in average disposals, marks, intercept marks and intercept possessions.

My challenge to Weitering is we know you can stop your opponent one-on-one, but I'd love to see you take more risks to win the ball back.

Liam Jones tries it and doesn't always get it right, but I'd back Weitering to have more success. Don't be so conscious of Matt Taberner on Sunday.

 

 

Originally published as McGuane: Blues need a sacrificial lamb


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