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  1. #1
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    Why Dogs' disaster isn't all Bevo's fault



    1. It's time for a rational discussion about Luke Beveridge

    There has been a lot written and said about the Western Bulldogs over the last few days, most of it directed at Luke Beveridge, none of it good.

    If there was any doubt about which coach is sitting in the hottest seat in the land, it's gone now. From the media to the general public to Bulldogs supporters - especially Bulldogs supporters - there's little doubt now that his coaching future is, for probably the third time in 12 months, in real jeopardy.

    There are a lot of things wrong with the Dogs at the moment ? some, maybe most, directly attributable to Beveridge's coaching. But it's worth pointing out a couple of things first that have been lost in the swirling vortex of hot takes and furious reactions to Friday night's loss to Essendon.

    One: it is not Beveridge's fault that either Tom Liberatore or the Dogs? medical staff told him the issue which caused him to collapse in the last quarter was down to a dodgy ankle. As concerning as that vision was, no coach will ever publicly (or even privately) question his doctors, while it is, as far as we know, true that Liberatore didn't and still hasn't exhibited signs of concussion.

    Call it a dereliction of duty from the medicos to not immediately attend to him on the ground, or to cover-up a suspected concussion if that?s what you think happened ? keeping in mind there was no vision of a head knock that is typically the biggest indicator that action is required ? but the vitriol directed at Beveridge for standing by his player and doctors in his post-match media conference was excessive.

    Two: it was not a ridiculous move for him to make Bailey Dale the sub on Friday night, just as he did Jack Macrae last week and Caleb Daniel in Round 1. Anyone who has watched the Bulldogs closely this year, or indeed across 2022 or 2023, would know that Dale is not the All-Australian footballer he was in 2021; his kicking has been wayward, defensively he has been regularly a liability, and there have been precious few line-breaking runs that you'd expect of a half-back whose main role is to be a rebounding threat.

    James O?Donnell's return to the backline for his expense was a structural decision to add extra height to a backline that was vulnerable aerially against Geelong, and it's far from ridiculous for Beveridge to hold the view that Lachlan Bramble has played better football than Dale to this point in the season, despite his far less decorated credentials.

    As it happens, Dale was exceptionally poor when brought on in the last term, just as Macrae was unimpactful as sub against the Cats; anyone who claims their performance is a result of Beveridge wrecking their confidence should consider why it's still seen as a masterstroke for Ross Lyon to make a selection statement by sending Nick Dal Santo and Stephen Milne to the VFL back in 2008.

    Or why when John Longmire did the same to Ryan O'Keefe back in 2014, the general consensus was that others fulfilled more important roles than the veteran and didn't immediately call for his head ? especially when they kept winning.

    Three: it's entirely reasonable for Ryley Sanders to have been subbed out on Friday night; the claims that he was the Dogs? toughest midfielder on the night and his removal messed up their stoppage structure are just plain mistruths. His 100 per cent disposal efficiency was borne of low-risk backwards handballs, he had one contested possession and zero clearances in a team with no shortage of midfielders, and he was the only Bulldog on the night to not have a score involvement.

    No one gave a stuff when another young midfielder, Cam Mackenzie, was subbed out by Sam Mitchell on Friday night, and there's no way Beveridge would be pinned for destroying the confidence of a young player if he'd taken Harvey Gallagher off. The only reason the footy world has it out for Beveridge over that is because Sanders is a popular Fantasy football pick and the other two are not ? there is literally no other just reason to be pissed off about that substitution.

    Any meaningful criticism about Beveridge and the way the Bulldogs play consistently gets lost in this cheap, shallow, reactionary analysis. Adding to the issue is that his historically antagonistic relationship with the media, and yes, his reputation as Fantasy footy poison, means there's very little recognition when he gets things right or the Dogs play well, as they did in Round 2 against Gold Coast and in many ways against Geelong last week.

    The problems are deeper than having former stars be made the sub, or deciding young high draft picks who weren't playing all that well might not be capable of running a game out.

    They are in a centre bounce structure that features too many ball-hunters and was shown up by an Essendon group that held its width and waltzed into open space running forward time and time again.

    They are in the continual inability for Tim English, the reigning All-Australian ruckman, to impose himself on all but the most outmatched of opponents; he had his worst game in many years on Friday night, and his lack of body strength at ruck contests is now being often exposed while his marking around the ground, particularly in defence, dwindles. It might be time to acknowledge that while he has many attributes, he's not a great fit for a midfield that needs someone more competitive at stoppages.

    They are in a forward line hamstrung by the fact its two best players, Aaron Naughton and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, are statistically the worst and third-worst kicks for goal since the start of 2021 in the AFL. The Dogs actually finished 0.2 points behind the Bombers on expected score, and barring ten minutes in the third term where the Dons ripped the match to shreds, it was a game that was pretty much being decided on accuracy when kicking for goal.

    The thing is, all the above can be true without disputing the point that Beveridge's time at the Dogs might be up. Whether he's lost the players is something we honestly can't know beyond rumour and innuendo ? if Macrae is wandering around out there annoyed that he's been pushed to the fringes of the midfield rotation, that's an indictment on him and him alone for not sucking it up and playing for the team ? but there are consistent issues with the way the Bulldogs play that are shown up by teams with a more cohesive structure and better defined roles regardless of talent.

    I honestly thought his time was up at the end of last season, but he survived, and as galling as Friday night's loss was, there have been necessary changes made to the game style. Some of them have even worked.

    A breath of fresh air might be just the thing the Bulldogs need. Or it might not.

    But there's a personal vendetta against Beveridge at the moment where every single thing going wrong at the Whitten Oval is planted on its head, and following that line of thought misses the fact that there are many, many other factors at play here.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Why Dogs' disaster isn't all Bevo's fault

    The best thing that happened to the club was 2016. The worst thing that happened to the club since 2016 is 2016.
    But then again, I'm an Internet poster and Bevo is a premiership coach so draw your own conclusions.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Why Dogs' disaster isn't all Bevo's fault

    Quote Originally Posted by 1eyedog View Post
    The best thing that happened to the club was 2016. The worst thing that happened to the club since 2016 is 2016.
    Wrong. Loved 2016.
    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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