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  1. #1
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    Robbo: Why ‘Miracle Man’ Luke Beveridge remains an enigma

    Robbo: Why ‘Miracle Man’ Luke Beveridge remains an enigma


    Luke Beveridge encouraged Western Bulldogs players to get out of the rough waters at Lorne in late 2016 — 10 weeks after winning the Grand Final.

    David ‘Macca’ McArthur — a Herald Sun cartoonist and mad Bulldogs fan — drew Beveridge walking on water.

    The imagery could not be missed: Beveridge was the miracle man.

    Fast forward and that imagery is somewhat lost.

    When once he was walking on water, now he is trudging through mud.

    One question has lingered for the past two years: What’s happened to the Western Bulldogs? And, by extension, who is Luke Beveridge?

    We know he’s a premiership coach and a very decent man.

    Few people would stand aside on the premiership stage and present his medal to someone else, as Beveridge did to Bob Murphy in 2016.

    Beveridge’s moment came later that night at the premiership celebrations when he grabbed the microphone and sang “the Western Bulldogs are taking over … at the weekend’’.

    It was a mixture of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

    He had cuddled a broken club in 2015 and won the premiership in 2016. He was described as having deep emotional wisdom and he rolled that into one of the most dramatic Septembers the game has ever seen.

    He remains football’s man of mystery.

    “I’ve said this before … if there are eight pieces of pizza or eight spokes of the wheel, I think people would definitely tell you six things about Bevo, but they don’t know the other two,” former Bulldog Bob Murphy said.

    “And everyone’s got a different six.

    “I get asked about him a lot and as soon I start to describe him in one way, the little voice in my head says, but he’s not really like that.

    “He’s very emotional and tactile, puts his arm around you.

    “But he can be very analytical and structured. He’s got more balance than any coach I’ve come across.’’

    Bulldog games record holder Brad Johnson agrees with the “man of mystery” moniker. “Maybe he is a little bit, because at times, maybe he has kept things reasonably tight to his chest,” Johnson said.

    Beveridge shuns media.

    Not the compulsory weekly press conferences, when he can be playful, or the post-game press conferences, in which he can be deadly serious.

    He shuns the more personal interviews.

    He marks his 100th game as an AFL coach when the Bulldogs play against Richmond this weekend. It’s a smallish milestone, but he baulked at an interview.

    For a personal guy, the sense is he likes being detached.

    Certainly, some Bulldogs fans feel detached from the coach.

    Maybe Beveridge didn’t want to answer questions about performance, players, game style and his coaching.

    Maybe he’s unaware of the fascination with what he achieved with a young list in 2016 and why he’s struggling with a young list now. Perhaps he simply doesn’t like talking about himself.

    Johnson was at the club this week for a lunch for former captains and club identities, including former president David Smorgon.

    “When we they won the flag, they finished seventh at the end of the home and away season. So for me, OK, we finished seventh, we won the flag and that’s great, but take that out of it when you look at the past three years,’’ he said.

    “We finished seventh, but we needed to progress from seventh, to sixth to top four to having another crack through these next couple of years. That clearly hasn’t happened.”

    Beveridge joined Murphy and Johnson for a chat at the lunch and Johnson’s concerns were partly allayed.

    “It’s not until you get that internal chat from the senior coach that you get an understanding where things are at and how we got to that point,” he said.

    “It took away a lot of that frustration as a supporter. It goes to your point about him being a man of mystery.

    “Maybe that sort of stuff needs to be made public so questions aren’t asked about why.

    “You’re not going to let everything out, we understand that, but it might relax a few people. It’s relaxed me.”

    The Bulldogs won the premiership with one of the youngest teams of all time. The average age was 24.33. The average this year is 24.27.

    The key stats in performance aren’t seriously dissimilar, either. Accuracy is virtually the same, contested ball differential has dropped from No.1 in the competition and to No.7. Clearances differential down from No.1 to No.5, scores per inside 50 are down from No.15 to No.16, and points for have dropped from No.12 to No.13.

    “We like to, especially with premiership teams, look at how they were built and what happened,” Murphy said.

    “This one wasn’t like that. Even things that happened like the injures, it formed part of what almost had to happen.

    “At the time, it felt something magical was happening. You say mysterious and I say magical … there’s something otherworldly about him.”

    Is it possible Beveridge had a one-off that cannot be replicated with the current group — a kind of an alignment of the moons and stars never to happen again?

    Beveridge is said to have staunch self-belief. And why wouldn’t he. His swarming, high-possession football with players in multiple positions underpinned by “other wordly” belief and emotion won him a flag.

    But is that philosophy transferable in the ever-changing nature of football? Could his attempts to conjure that “magic” again be an anchor?

    “I don’t know,” Murphy said.

    “Our greatest strength can be a our greatest weakness. His self belief is enormous.”

    Maybe Beveridge is truly unique. Is he a two-year coach, a fixer of broken clubs and broken players, who could repeat the success at another club?

    Johnson is more pragmatic about the way the Bulldogs play under Beveridge than he is wondering about the coach’s wizardry.

    He reckoned the Bulldogs were a prolific SuperCoach team and an inconsistent football team.

    “They wrack up points, but not much comes from their possessions,” he said.

    “I watched Round 1 against Sydney — the style was in contrast to most of last year.

    “Instead of these blokes wracking them up, they came out the front of the contest, gave their forwards chances one-on-one, but these past few weeks it’s dropped back to a lot of possessions and no reward for it.”

    More generally, he wondered whether Beveridge’s style in 2016 was a 12-month “trick” that opposition clubs have subsequently worked out. He agreed it was brilliant football.

    “It is brilliant when they come out the front of the contest and they go forward, it’s not brilliant when they go back for five possessions, chip it sideways and come back to those guys who have another five possessions and then go forward,” he said.

    “The opposition is too quick to set up to defend these days.”

    He said he preferred less of the versatility that was part of the philosophy in 2016.

    “When the Bulldogs play their players in their No.1 positions, they normally get strong reward — and that’s win,” Johnson said.

    “You can try to be tricky with positions, but players will excel when they’re given the opportunity to play their position.’’

    He acknowledged that injuries and trades, such as Jordan Roughead to Collingwood, had hurt. Roughead’s departure hasn’t been fully explained.

    From the 2016 team, Jake Stringer was booted, Luke Dahlhaus walked and Joel Hamling departed to Fremantle.

    On top of the retirements to Matthew Boyd, Shane Biggs and Liam Picken, there were issues for Tom Boyd and the injury to Dale Morris.

    “Even Easton Wood has to play a different role,” Johnson said.

    “He likes to play that swing where he can come in and jump, but he has to lock down because they don’t have talls to compete.”

    Ideally, Boyd and a progressing Josh Schache would play forward, Johnson said, and Aaron Naughton would play key back, which is why he was drafted.

    Johnson says Beveridge has a challenge in front of him.

    “I thought they should’ve been the best side in the bottom six and they’re not,” he said. “When they got the bottom-six draw this year, I thought they’d be the side to jump out of it. Round 1 and 2 showed me they could. And the past four weeks have totally exposed a lot of things they don’t have.

    “No question it’s a challenging period ahead for Bevo.

    “You can’t have the quality they’ve got and not get across the line.

    “If you go back three years, everyone was talking about how the Dogs could win two or three flags with their list set-up. They’ve gone from winning it to not playing finals for probably three years in a row.

    “It sits with Bevo. It’s his team being rolled out every week, so it’s an interesting spot.”

    How long can a coach live off a premiership?

    In Beveridge’s first 50 games he won 34 and lost 16. In his next 49, he’s won 20 and lost 29.

    “The shift will have to come reasonably quickly. You can’t finish seventh and go backwards, you have to finish seventh and go forwards,” Johnson said.

    He suggested it might need a change in assistant coaches which is the trend. Keep the coach, replace the underlings.

    “Or they might go the other way,” he said.

    “I don’t know what will happen.”

    Murphy is less uncertain than Johnson. And naturally sees genius in Beveridge. “He’s got more quirks than just about anyone I know. He’s an original,” he said.

    He sees this coaching period as Beveridge Mark II, the first period being pre-premiership and this being post-premiership.

    Still, Murphy says you can see elements in today’s team that personified the 2016 team.

    “When they play really well, you get a sense of emotion, you get a sense the players are heavily invested,” he said.

    The core of Beveridge, who was a street fighter in his youth, won’t change.

    “This is the bit about him and it’s only my take,” Murphy said. “The street-fighting Luke Beveridge was about honour and defending someone who couldn’t defend themselves.

    “Now he’s viewed (that) at the Bulldogs it was all of us sitting around singing kumbaya, but that’s not true either.

    “It was empathy, a real love for one another, but it was still harsh and honest and unnerving in difficult situations.

    “I don’t know if he gets enough credit for this new masculinity in the game.”

  2. #2
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    Re: Robbo: Why ‘Miracle Man’ Luke Beveridge remains an enigma

    Johnno expresses much of the frustrations we all feel and express here.

    Bob talks like someone who has been in the inner sanctum and knows what Bevo is doing and where it will lead.

    The article written by Robbo who would love, but cant get, an interview with Bevo.

  3. Likes azabob, Bulldog Revolution liked this post
  4. #3
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    Re: Robbo: Why ‘Miracle Man’ Luke Beveridge remains an enigma

    I find it interesting that Jonno’s concerns were allayed when he heard directly from Bevo. How I wish we could sometimes get a glimpse of that reasoning.
    www.bulldogtragician.com A blog about being a lifelong fan of the Dogs and our quixotic attempt to replicate 1954. AND WE DID
    Author of "The Mighty West: the Bulldogs journey from daydream believers to premiership heroes"
    Twitter @bulldogstragic

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  6. #4
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    Re: Robbo: Why ‘Miracle Man’ Luke Beveridge remains an enigma

    It's absolutely a failure of the media team at the club, too. We're living in 2019 - having more than a token presence in the media is part of the job for a senior coach, whether they like it or not.

    Nathan Buckley and Damien Hardwick are two guys who are great in the media and have survived rocky patches during their times as a head coach. It's huge for supporter sentiment and a far better strategy than ours which seems to be 'have some blind faith in a process that we refuse to tell you about'. Chris Scott is another that's authentic and honest in front of the media.

    I bet Sydney supporter's expectations are a lot more measured after Longmire virtually confirmed that they'll be rebuilding. And that kind of honesty isn't hurting the club.

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  8. #5
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    Re: Robbo: Why ‘Miracle Man’ Luke Beveridge remains an enigma

    Quote Originally Posted by lemmon View Post
    It's absolutely a failure of the media team at the club, too. We're living in 2019 - having more than a token presence in the media is part of the job for a senior coach, whether they like it or not.

    Nathan Buckley and Damien Hardwick are two guys who are great in the media and have survived rocky patches during their times as a head coach. It's huge for supporter sentiment and a far better strategy than ours which seems to be 'have some blind faith in a process that we refuse to tell you about'. Chris Scott is another that's authentic and honest in front of the media.

    I bet Sydney supporter's expectations are a lot more measured after Longmire virtually confirmed that they'll be rebuilding. And that kind of honesty isn't hurting the club.
    It is hard to change the personality of someone like Bevo who is highly regarded by the inner sanctum at the Club.
    PG and Murph have been outstanding ambassadors for our Club. You may well find that the 3 Coaches you referred to are sought out by the football media because of the high profile of their respective Clubs. The WB have never enjoyed the same luxury, which maybe only sustained success will bring.

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