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  1. #1
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    Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Five things that have contributed to Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Boring, average and almost irrelevant, how did it get to this for last year’s grand finalists? Scott Gullan on the Western Bulldogs’ woe.



    It‘s the biggest question in football right now: What has happened to the Western Bulldogs?

    Last year‘s grand finalists have become boring, average and are not far away from being irrelevant.

    This was one of the most exciting teams in the game 12 months ago. So where has it all gone wrong?

    There doesn‘t seem to be one main obvious place to point the finger at, more a build-up of various things which have conspired to have the blowtorch pointing Luke Beveridge’s way.

    When he brought the club its second premiership in 2016, the thought of that man ever feeling any pressure at the Whitten Oval was laughable. The job for life was the call as a dynasty awaited.

    A decent premiership hangover was a problem for a couple of years but when the Dogs led by 19 points midway through the third quarter of last year‘s grand final against Melbourne – after another heroic march through September – the Bevo magic was back.

    Maybe he‘s lost his wand because all is not well out west with the next month set to answer a lot of questions.

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    The Bulldogs are currently a game outside the eight – they face St Kilda on Friday night who are one spot ahead of them in ninth – and then play the top three teams over the next three weeks.

    There are different ways to look at what has happened. Are they just purely having one of those years where nothing goes right? Is it just a loss of confidence? Or are they a fractured football club?

    Here are five issues haunting the Bulldogs:

    1. DEFENCE


    The stats over the past five weeks are embarrassing. The Dogs are ranked either 16th, 17th or 18th in categories such as points against, opposition scores per inside 50 and points against from turnovers. Personnel wise Ryan Gardner is limited, Alex Keath is banged up and asked to do too much, Bailey Williams has lost confidence while recruit Tim O‘Brien has been a bust and was dropped last week.

    They have no intercept markers anymore – Easton Wood’s retirement has cut deep – but the real issues are further up the field with the highly-rated midfield.

    “You can‘t defend when you’re all out offence in the midfielder. Last year they had total control of the ball around the contest so they could protect some issues down back but they don’t have that this year,” one rival club analyst said.

    2. JOSH BRUCE

    Bruce has become a better player by not playing. There is no doubt his presence helps relieve the pressure on Aaron Naughton and in his absence the Dogs have managed to scrape together enough decent scores, particularly thanks to the work of Cody Weightman, but it‘s not sustainable in big games against the top teams.
    Luke Beveridge has lost plenty of experience in his coaching circle.

    3. SUPPORT


    Losing long-time assistant Steven King was a blow the Dogs knew was coming but they were blindsided with highly rated Ashley Hansen went to Carlton. They were then late into the market for replacements with the inexperienced Matt Spangher and Marc Webb struggling to fill the void. All of this has added further pressure on Beveridge who had previously been accused of micromanaging.

    4. ABSENCE

    Every club has players missing but the Dogs have had it happen to the wrong people. Bailey Smith getting caught doing drugs and headbutting people hurt big time as did Lachie Hunter taking time away from the game. Ruckman Tim English having a number of concussion breaks, Jason Johannisen missing half the season, and Taylor Duryea‘s recent knee injury have all impacted continuity.

    5. LEWIS YOUNG

    Lewis Young has turned into Geoff Southby since he left but what can‘t be ignored is why the Dogs let a 201cm defender go who they’d put five years of development into. Selection has been an issue for a number of years with blind faith shown to players who many wouldn’t think deserve it – think the patience given to the likes of Josh Schache, Roarke Smith, Anthony Scott and Robbie McComb.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

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  3. #2
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Not a single word of a lie here, glad the media is starting to dig into the club and point out our glaring issues that fans have been going on about for years...
    "Its always good to win the Ashes test match'' - Libba, AFL Grand Final, 2016

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  5. #3
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    What a load of shallow garbage that doesn’t even scratch the surface as to what’s going on this year.

    Easton Wood was no longer an interceptor and his retirement has had no bearing on our performance beyond providing some leadership on field. Duryea has been a bigger loss to the back 6 by far.

    Lewis Young is a reason we’ve fallen from grace? Please. Yes, we look very silly for letting him go but again, his departure has no bearing on our ladder position this year (unless the group are pissed we mucked his development around and effectively pushed him out the door and they’re rebelling via crappy performances?).

    The lack of support for Bevo probably gets closer to the source of our issues but Gullan has no real idea (as all of us here don’t either) about who does what within the four walls of the club. We’re a closed shop.

    Yes, Bruce is a big hole in our structure but one we knew we needed to fill for 12 months at a minimum yet didn’t. A better line of enquiry would be why we didn’t/couldn’t.

    Heat rightfully needs to be applied on the club and our underperformance this year (and how we fell apart late last year) but this article is tilting at windmills.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

  6. #4
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Who wrote the article?

    Edit I'm assuming Scott Gullan according to Comrade's post.
    #BeMoreBulldog

  7. #5
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by azabob View Post
    Who wrote the article?

    Edit I'm assuming Scott Gullan according to Comrade's post.
    Yes it was Gullan, I agree with Comrade that it's a very shallow article. Expected better.
    The points are valid just not a lot of depth with what he is saying. I don't think it had much to do with the loss.
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

  8. #6
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    Yes it was Gullan, I agree with Comrade that it's a very shallow article. Expected better.
    The points are valid just not a lot of depth with what he is saying. I don't think it had much to do with the loss.
    From the HUN?
    Retired from match day thread - Sep 2021 (Sometimes)

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  10. #7
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Gullan is notionally a Dogs man but he's spent the last decade or so sniffing panties down at Kardinia Park.

    I've seen wading pools that are less shallow than that article.
    We are the goon squad and we're coming to town. Beep Beep.

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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    What a load of shallow garbage that doesn’t even scratch the surface as to what’s going on this year.

    Easton Wood was no longer an interceptor and his retirement has had no bearing on our performance beyond providing some leadership on field. Duryea has been a bigger loss to the back 6 by far.

    Lewis Young is a reason we’ve fallen from grace? Please. Yes, we look very silly for letting him go but again, his departure has no bearing on our ladder position this year (unless the group are pissed we mucked his development around and effectively pushed him out the door and they’re rebelling via crappy performances?).

    The lack of support for Bevo probably gets closer to the source of our issues but Gullan has no real idea (as all of us here don’t either) about who does what within the four walls of the club. We’re a closed shop.

    Yes, Bruce is a big hole in our structure but one we knew we needed to fill for 12 months at a minimum yet didn’t. A better line of enquiry would be why we didn’t/couldn’t.

    Heat rightfully needs to be applied on the club and our underperformance this year (and how we fell apart late last year) but this article is tilting at windmills.
    Agreed. With the exception of Liba there was no where near enough heat put on the downhill skiers that are our midfield in that article. They're lazy and expect it to happen / expect someone else to do the heavy lifing everytime.

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  14. #9
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    Yes it was Gullan, I agree with Comrade that it's a very shallow article. Expected better
    The points are valid just not a lot of depth with what he is saying. I don't think it had much to do with the loss.
    Kinda does smack of irrelevance.

  15. #10
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    From the HUN?
    From Gullan
    Western Bulldogs Football Club "Where it's cool to drool"

  16. #11
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    What a load of shallow garbage that doesn’t even scratch the surface as to what’s going on this year.

    Easton Wood was no longer an interceptor and his retirement has had no bearing on our performance beyond providing some leadership on field. Duryea has been a bigger loss to the back 6 by far.

    Lewis Young is a reason we’ve fallen from grace? Please. Yes, we look very silly for letting him go but again, his departure has no bearing on our ladder position this year (unless the group are pissed we mucked his development around and effectively pushed him out the door and they’re rebelling via crappy performances?).

    The lack of support for Bevo probably gets closer to the source of our issues but Gullan has no real idea (as all of us here don’t either) about who does what within the four walls of the club. We’re a closed shop.

    Yes, Bruce is a big hole in our structure but one we knew we needed to fill for 12 months at a minimum yet didn’t. A better line of enquiry would be why we didn’t/couldn’t.

    Heat rightfully needs to be applied on the club and our underperformance this year (and how we fell apart late last year) but this article is tilting at windmills.
    I think you're sort of right. So some counter points:

    1) Wood in 2021 was not Wood in 2016, but as someone who could zone off and take a mark, using his athleticism to cut off opposition attacks he is someone we are missing more than we realise. O'Brien was seen as the Wood replacement, but he hasn't hit the mark either as an interceptor or as a lockdown backman;

    2) L Young is a loss and probably bigger than we realise. At 25 he has 6 or 7 years ahead of him as a key back. Now he is not the interceptor, but moving him on has meant that Keath contnues to have to play the lockdown role he is not suited to. Where Keath could become our interceptor, L Young going means we have to use him as a key defender. Young for O'Brien was bad business in October and it's a rank prawn in the sun now;

    3) Hansen's unplannned departure on the back of King's departure has hurt. Coming so late in the day we really didn't fill the gap all that well and in hindsight it has resulted in a coaching team that is not all dinging from the same hymm sheet. Bevo needs more support. He needs a mature and experienced No.2 who can take some of the pressure off him, but also challenge both him and the other coaches. Every good exec has a number 2 to do their dirty work. We agree on this point.

    4) Not replacing Josh Bruce.......what were we thinking? Maybe we hope JUH would develop. Maybe we hoped that Schache would blossom with the opportunity. To be honest the best we have looked up front is when Khamis played alongside Naughton. It was a mistake, but a mistake Blind Freddy on a night on the gas could have seen.

    I think the article scratches the surface (in true HS style). The Kennel is not a happy place at the moment.

  17. #12
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Quote Originally Posted by FrediKanoute View Post
    I think you're sort of right. So some counter points:

    1) Wood in 2021 was not Wood in 2016, but as someone who could zone off and take a mark, using his athleticism to cut off opposition attacks he is someone we are missing more than we realise. O'Brien was seen as the Wood replacement, but he hasn't hit the mark either as an interceptor or as a lockdown backman;

    2) L Young is a loss and probably bigger than we realise. At 25 he has 6 or 7 years ahead of him as a key back. Now he is not the interceptor, but moving him on has meant that Keath contnues to have to play the lockdown role he is not suited to. Where Keath could become our interceptor, L Young going means we have to use him as a key defender. Young for O'Brien was bad business in October and it's a rank prawn in the sun now;

    3) Hansen's unplannned departure on the back of King's departure has hurt. Coming so late in the day we really didn't fill the gap all that well and in hindsight it has resulted in a coaching team that is not all dinging from the same hymm sheet. Bevo needs more support. He needs a mature and experienced No.2 who can take some of the pressure off him, but also challenge both him and the other coaches. Every good exec has a number 2 to do their dirty work. We agree on this point.

    4) Not replacing Josh Bruce.......what were we thinking? Maybe we hope JUH would develop. Maybe we hoped that Schache would blossom with the opportunity. To be honest the best we have looked up front is when Khamis played alongside Naughton. It was a mistake, but a mistake Blind Freddy on a night on the gas could have seen.

    I think the article scratches the surface (in true HS style). The Kennel is not a happy place at the moment.
    I love Easton but he was gifted a spot in that GF team. He should have been dropped after the Essendon debacle. He was largely poor throughout 2021 culminating in a horror game up against Fritsch. O’Brien hasn’t been great but he wasn’t replacing much.

    Lewis Young’s last contribution to our team was as primary ruck man (a true wtf decision!). He wasn’t ever someone we had to replace in defence and it’s unlikely he was even in the coaching group’s consideration for this year.

    I agree that Bevo’s support cast is probably a factor in our underperforming but not the above two.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

  18. #13
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Not a lot wrong in that article.

    Defence in midfield is non existent, so tick there. Back six poor this season a tick there as well. We might be able to stem some bleeding if the midfield would work harder, even if they did I have no faith in the backline. It's poor and I'm being soft on them.

    Bruce was gone for 12 months, we did nothing to counter that, the result of that Naughton getting put through the wringer each week. There were plenty of secondary rucks on the market in the offseason. We turned our noses up at most and kept Martin on for another season.

    Coaching staff, another tick. I've said enough on this. We are not putting the right people around our heard coach or our coach is putting the wrong people a round him. Choosing a friend who has no experience at all leads me to believe that he had finals say in that selection.

    Injuries again yes, we have been cruelled by them like previous seasons. Have we done anything to try and improve in this area or are we just saying it's bad luck? I don't know the answer to this, nothing has come out and said we're trying to address it. I still think selecting balanced teams and less experimentation we would have had more W's on the board to counter it but that's another subject.

    A lot of peeps getting worked up over the Lewis Young part for and against. Yes we would have been better with him in the team, how anyone can say we wouldn't is playing defence but he wouldn't have changed many results either. The fact that we didn't develop him here and has flourished in a new system is a real eye opener and really disappointing.

    This article nailed the 5 small points they raised and if they dug deeper could have put in some more.

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  20. #14
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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    FWIW:

    Coaching issues were known to be tough going into this season. Don't forget we have lost Guido as well 12-months earlier. Hansen's poaching stuffed things-up for this season. An experienced head who talks his mind and is tactically sound is required.

    As for the on-field performance, last week was the first shocker for the year. Bris had one a week before our game and everyone put their effort down to being a one-off shocker. Ditto Syd against the Bummers. We played both Bris and Syd on their patch on the rebound.

    Against Bris we had our chances but could not stop their movement out of defence once they did get through. Against Syd, didn't Syd also register the highest pressure rating of any side this year? When you are slightly off against that, it goes pear shape in a hurry. (Still should have been closer to them at the half though but they had their chances in the first).

    Having said that the Club/Bevo should not write-off the performance. There has been too many instances of a bad quarter here and there ruining the team's ability to get over the line this season. Midfield needs to become more accountable when not in possession. Also, more uncompromising grunt/mongrel across the field. Can't just be left to Libba.

    As well, Bevo does a few risky things which mainly work. Both Hannon and Treloar in the back-half was way too out there. Up there with Wood as a Forward but like I said, Bevo's brain f@rts work more often than not.

    Don't forget with Lewis Young and Lipinski, we keep them then we don't get Darcy or another pick in the draft. Here's hoping JUH and Darcy show soon why the Club let go some decent players for absolute guns!

    One final point. If the Club was not harmonious off the field, we would not have signed everyone bar Smith and Dunkley at this juncture.

    Culturally the Club appears sound, just need some more footy nous to assist.

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    Re: Western Bulldogs’ fall from grace

    Everyone says about employing 2 untried assistants while I don't agree with the appointments but they were probably the best at the time because of the lateness of losing Hansen.

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