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  1. #1
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    Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?



    How are the Dogs on the brink of missing finals with a list overflowing with A Grade stars? With a cap squeeze about to bite, change is needed at Whitten Oval before this flag window closes.

    Maybe the Western Bulldogs? player personnel strategy needs a tinker.

    In recent years, the club?s fan base has ridden arguably the wildest roller coaster in the game, swapping scintillating highs with tough-to-stomach lows on an almost weekly basis.

    And trying to crack the code on the Bulldogs? inconsistencies this year has been harder than winning Powerball.

    Football director Chris Grant has already backed-in the coach, Luke Beveridge, adamant he is going nowhere on the back of the most bewildering loss of the season to cellar dwellers West Coast on Sunday.

    But what is about to come under the microscope is whether the depth of the list has been overrated ? to some degree ? and whether the types of players they have targeted needs to evolve.

    The Bulldogs have an enormous amount of talent, no doubt.

    The midfield is stacked with A-Graders, they have one of the best few players in the game in Marcus Bontempelli, two talls who will demand seven-figure contracts on their next deal, arguably the recruit of the year in Liam Jones, and two electric goal kickers in Cody Weightman and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

    No. 2 pick Sam Darcy could be anything, Caleb Daniel is arguably the best kick in the competition. Tom Liberatore might have had his best year or thereabouts.

    That is a huge slice of top-line talent.

    Compared to a club such as St Kilda, which relies heavily on Jack Sinclair in the midfield, it is a case of chalk and cheese. The Dogs have about seven Sinclairs, comparatively-speaking.

    Yet on Saturday night, the Bulldogs could miss the finals if they go down to a depleted Geelong side at the Cattery after falling at the first hurdle last September.

    Even though the coach said pre-game he had a bad feeling about the Eagles? clash last Sunday, the colour had completely drained from Beveridge?s face on the final siren.

    The flare had been shot up over Marvel Stadium. Fans jeered the players as they came off the ground.

    More broadly, they have won 23 and lost 22 games over the past two campaigns since the Dogs were blown away by Melbourne in the second half of the 2021 Grand Final.

    But heading into the Grand Final in 2021, some weren?t totally convinced as the Dogs had lost four of their last seven games of the regular season, before thumping Essendon in the elimination final (by 49 points) and Port Adelaide in the prelim by 71.

    Again, up and down.

    FOOTBALL DEPARTMENT REVIEW

    And as Grant said this week, the review is now on. It is time to find out why the club has produced more wild swings than a public golf course.

    Clearly, there are questions about whether players are being put in their right positions. Bailey Smith would suggest not.

    His exit meeting will be the most interesting in the game as Geelong waits to see whether the line breaker will request a trade down the highway.

    Prolific onballer Jack Macrae has been shifted forward. Caleb Daniel has played in the guts. Aaron Naughton could return to defence.

    Beveridge spins the magnet more than any man in the game at selection. But does the question of balance go beyond game day and run deep through the whole list?

    If the Dogs have enough eye-catching talent across the top-line, it could be time to focus on the depth positions and support roles.

    In particular, is it time to zero in on footballers who can produce on a more consistent basis in less glamorous roles to eliminate some of the Dogs? fluctuations?

    Less icing, more cake, sort of thing.

    On their day, Ugle-Hagan, Weightman, Bailey Smith, Aaron Naughton, Adam Treloar and Co are match winners. They?re great to watch.

    Tall Rory Lobb, who was brought to the club in the trade period, is another who can turn on a blinder then go missing.

    But is he really what the Dogs needed if Beveridge was going to keep Naughton forward alongside Ugle-Hagan with help from English anyway?

    At the same time, forward lines appear to be going smaller and more mobile across the competition.

    Look at Collingwood. Melbourne has opted for more a more dynamic look. Brodie Grundy and Ben Brown can?t get a game. Brisbane has downgraded from three talls to two this year.

    Yet at the start of the season, all the talk was about whether the Bulldogs would play four talls, including Darcy. When the competition zigged, perhaps the Bulldogs zagged.

    Lobb has slotted 21 goals from 19 games this year, spent time on a wing, and was injured and dropped to the VFL at one point.

    It is clear what needs to define this next phase of recruiting for the Bulldogs to maximise the fourth year of the club?s second premiership window featuring Bontempelli next season.

    RECRUITING PLAN

    Pick players the club can count on week-to-week and play them in positions which best suit them. Clubs like to be innovative and creative. But it?s consistency the red, white and blue crave, more than anything.

    It is why the loss of hard nut Josh Dunkley hurt when the best and fairest winner walked out on the club for reasons which remain a little unclear.

    It wasn?t for the money, clearly, and his partner, Tippah Dwan, plays Super Netball in Adelaide.

    Yet the most consistent figure and best defensive performer in the Dogs? midfield ended up in Brisbane where he is pushing for a premiership. The Lions love him. His reliability and character.

    The constant suspicion from recruiters is that his best mate, Adam Treloar, would one day join him at a fourth club in Queensland in a bid to reunite with his partner, Kim Ravaillion, and daughter, Georgie in Brisbane.

    But the Lions don?t need the extra midfield hit and Treloar refused to entertain the Suns when he picked the Bulldogs a few years ago.

    So a deal to a Queensland club, if Treloar wanted to spend more time midweek with family next season, looks hard to complete without a massive pay cut.

    Treloar has been adamant on his podcast this year there are no problems on the family front which require another change of club.

    In any case, Treloar?s midfield time has almost doubled, when Smith?s and Macrae?s has fallen through the floor.

    Treloar?s situation is a relevant question because the Dogs face one of the biggest salary cap squeezes in the game trying to accommodate significant pay rises for tall trio ? Naughton, English and Ugle-Hagan as well as keep Smith. They are all out of contract next year.

    West Coast would love English (who is a free agent next year), and Fremantle would gladly take Naughton (who is not a free agent).

    But you couldn?t discount Hawthorn, Richmond, St Kilda and Melbourne on Naughton either.

    BIG DEALS

    The pair of talls will receive $1 million-a-year offers from rivals. Ugle-Hagan will command about $700,000. Smith is similar. Plus Bontempelli and the rest of his midfield mates are on good coin.

    Smith shapes as the most intriguing figure in this year?s trade period on the basis he wants to play in the engine room rather than the flank.

    The competition suspects he is frustrated. He has played 56 per cent forward this year.

    The man who looked like one of the best players in the competition in the 2021 finals series and dubbed the next most marketable player in the games after Lance Franklin and Dustin Martin is now a shadow of himself.

    While the Cats don?t seem to be chasing him hard, they wouldn?t knock him back either ? this year or next. He would cost a single-figure first-round draft pick.

    The Cats currently have pick eight in this year?s draft and are targeting a future first-rounder for the departure of key defender Esava Ratugolea to Port Adelaide.

    But something is up, and not just with Smith. Across the board, gun players have been in decline at the kennel.

    Jack Macrae has been one of the most prolific and reliable midfielders in the game since the club saluted in the 2016 premiership.

    But he has also been sent forward for a big chunk this year, and was subbed out on Sunday with 13 possessions amid a concussions concern, after 24 and 16 touches across the previous fortnight.

    Naughton has also had an average year in attack, by his own standards, booting 41 goals 31 behinds.

    He was drafted out of the WAFL as a defender, but Beveridge has been adamant the club won?t swing him back there, despite the other tall goal kicking options.

    We would love to see more of Darcy, but injuries and illness hampered him this year.

    The data behind the drop-off is alarming, according to Champion Data.

    DOG DECLINE

    They have fallen off a cliff for points for clearances, going from 1st last year to 13th.

    Total points scored has dropped from 5th to 10th.

    In ball movement they have slipped from 4th to 15th, taking the Sherrin from defensive 50m to forward 50m.

    Darcy is an ace up their sleeve, and another gun father-son pick is on the way in Jordan Croft, a 200cm star key forward from Calder Cannons.

    He could land at the kennel, too, adding to the forward stocks.

    What characteristics the Dogs need to target is a relevant question for the club as it holds a strong hand in this year?s trade and draft period.

    After losing Dunkley to Brisbane, the Dogs have two first-round picks including Brisbane?s, as well as the Lions? second-round choice.

    So, as usual, there will be plenty of talent to play with at the kennel. It?s how the Dogs maximise it that has been the problem.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Excellent article with attention to detail and research. Basically the opposite of that trashy Roar article.

    This line in particular resonated......"Clubs like to be innovative and creative. But it's consistency the red, white and blue crave, more than anything"

    We need to be reliable and more predictable/consistent across the board - players, coaches, game plan. It's undeniable that we have ridden too many swings and roundabouts, and the different between our best and worst is far too large. Effort feels conditional (especially without the ball). We have talent but it might be spread more thinly than we thought.
    "Look at me mate. Look at me. I'm flyin'"

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  5. #3
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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sedat View Post
    We have talent but it might be spread more thinly than we thought.
    I think we have a lot of gaps and too much is left to too few. You look at the stats each week and many players haven't touched the ball more than 10 times. I can understand defenders who often go the spoil like Liam, but other guys are just not contributing.

    The wings, and flanks are a big problem.
    FFC: Established 1883

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    My favourite line "Less icing, more cake, sort of thing".
    More of an In Bruges guy?

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sedat View Post
    Excellent article with attention to detail and research. Basically the opposite of that trashy Roar article.

    This line in particular resonated......"Clubs like to be innovative and creative. But it's consistency the red, white and blue crave, more than anything"

    We need to be reliable and more predictable/consistent across the board.
    I say 'Be reliable, not remarkable' to my players.

    It applies to everyone as effective teams - coaches, medicos, fitness staffs, players - are PREDICTABLE to one another and don't make up 'stories' on the fly to suit what might be a short-term agenda.
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    I say 'Be reliable, not remarkable' to my players.

    It applies to everyone as effective teams - coaches, medicos, fitness staffs, players - are PREDICTABLE to one another and don't make up 'stories' on the fly to suit what might be a short-term agenda.
    I read reliable means they need to play to their strengths ( or within their limitations) and in one position they are familiar with. MacRae is not a natural fwd, yet his being played in the fwd position.

    Caleb is a gun distributor, but in the midfield he gets brushed aside. He got outmarked a few times against Petrosvki-seaton last week.

    Scott gets swung around but he has been productive this year,

    I would stick with VDM down back for the rest of his career, give him some consistency and see him get to 50 games. I hope he becomes a reliable afl footballer as we have him for another 2 years.

    Lobb stop playing him on the wing unless his going to demand the ball as to be the link man from backline kickout to the wing. I would put Poulter on wing there next year and tell him to learn to mark it and kick long son.

    Williams play downn back, thats where we saw his best footy. Challenge to use his kicking as a weapon

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by macca View Post
    I read reliable means they need to play to their strengths ( or within their limitations) and in one position they are familiar with. MacRae is not a natural fwd, yet his being played in the fwd position.

    Caleb is a gun distributor, but in the midfield he gets brushed aside. He got outmarked a few times against Petrosvki-seaton last week.

    Scott gets swung around but he has been productive this year,

    I would stick with VDM down back for the rest of his career, give him some consistency and see him get to 50 games. I hope he becomes a reliable afl footballer as we have him for another 2 years.

    Lobb stop playing him on the wing unless his going to demand the ball as to be the link man from backline kickout to the wing. I would put Poulter on wing there next year and tell him to learn to mark it and kick long son.
    To be fair, Lobb played on the wing, maybe once or twice.
    FFC: Established 1883

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    What struck me in this commentary is that we play midfielders out of position and they decline or leave - but that despite our midfield depth the balance isn’t right.

    Maybe we need to trade macrae or smith for a bull like Dunkley.

    It also seems beyond doubt that bevo needs to stop playing players out of position. It’s not flexibility, it’s suicide.

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boots View Post
    What struck me in this commentary is that we play midfielders out of position and they decline or leave - but that despite our midfield depth the balance isn’t right.

    Maybe we need to trade macrae or smith for a bull like Dunkley.

    It also seems beyond doubt that bevo needs to stop playing players out of position. It’s not flexibility, it’s suicide.
    This is all because Terry Wallace played Bevo in the ruck in the reserves grand final

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boots View Post
    It also seems beyond doubt that bevo needs to stop playing players out of position. It’s not flexibility, it’s suicide.
    Maybe he plays players out of position to fill holes
    Last edited by bornadog; 24-08-2023 at 02:36 PM. Reason: typo
    FFC: Established 1883

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    Maybe we players players out of position to fill holes
    Caleb Daniel in a midfield so stacked it’s overflowing into the wings and forward line is difficult to understand. I can see that macrae might be a better forward then CD and Smith is a better winger so CD has to eat the midfield minutes, but the impact on morale is apparently disastrous so the net effect is cumulatively worse than wearing a bad wing or forward.

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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boots View Post
    Caleb Daniel in a midfield so stacked it’s overflowing into the wings and forward line is difficult to understand. I can see that macrae might be a better forward then CD and Smith is a better winger so CD has to eat the midfield minutes, but the impact on morale is apparently disastrous so the net effect is cumulatively worse than wearing a bad wing or forward.
    Caleb has only played midfield when we have had a mid down. eg Adz at start of season. Not sure why Macrae has been out of CBAs
    FFC: Established 1883

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  21. #13
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    Re: Cap Space: How do Western Bulldogs become a more consistent force as cap squeeze begins to bite?

    Interesting article

    I liked the comments about lacking consistency - we just dont have the same depth of good senior players who do the hard stuff anymore

    I disliked the Dunkley didnt leave for money commentary

    I wasn't sold on the commentary on Smith or Macrae who both seemed to have had lots of opportunities in 2023 to play better

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