New Game, New Era – that’s the propaganda coming out of Arden St this season. But will 2010 represent an exciting new beginning for the North Melbourne Football Club? Or will it go down as another clichéd season for the perennial battlers? In this installment, Reverend Shinboner takes a look at the game plan North supporters are likely to see in 2010.
North’s hot new front man, Brad ‘Bon’ Scott, has become the most popular appointment since Batman took over law enforcement in Gotham City. Whether his popularity remains intact at season’s end will largely depend on the game plan he drills into his chargers. While still very much an unknown, some clues as to what this might entail can be gleaned from the pre-season:
North’s drafting told a tale in and of itself: Scott rates inside midfielders. Training sessions also suggest a heavy emphasis on moving the ball out of heavy traffic, defensive pressure and winning contested ball. The Geelong, Hawthorn and Brisbane premiership teams all possessed this trademark.
Collingwood have utilised extraordinarily high midfield rotations to great effect over the past couple of seasons. Whether Scott (former midfield coach at CFC) was the innovator or not is unclear, but I expect a similar approach from the Roos in 2010, particularly given his recent study tour in the US. Apart from keeping players fresh, it will hopefully free up North’s key playmakers.
Attack through defense
North was the lowest scoring team in 2009 (yes, worse than Melbourne). Unsurprisingly, North also had the fewest inside 50s, many of which were optimistic long-bombs. Pre-season training drills suggest a renewed focus on clean transitional play from defensive 50, especially kick-ins (thank God!).
Under Laidley, North played to a defensive, if not reactive game style which got them over the line often enough, but failed against the A-grade sides. I expect this to change. While consistency will be a problem until the team settles, I’m anticipating a tough, uncompromising brand of football will ensure the Roos take some serious scalps in the season ahead. Brad Scott wouldn’t stand for anything less.