‘West Coast can’t win the flag with the list they’ve currently got’

‘West Coast can’t win the flag with the list they’ve currently got’

West Coast are in a state of denial.
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The Eagles will more than likely “get back on the horse” and beat Sydney, because they are back at home in their comfort zone.

However, it’s totally irrelevant what happens on Thursday night.

The Eagles will probably win and the players who had a down game against the Tigers will probably star, but it’s about the bigger picture.

I don’t think the club can win a flag with the list they’ve currently got.

What West Coast has got is a team that can challenge for the Top 4 or Top 6 every year but, that’s mainly due to the distinct advantage the Eagles and Dockers get from playing 12 games at home every season.

If they win 10 of those games, then they only need to win a minimum of three away games to make finals and if they win six away games against lesser lights they finish Top 4 or Top 6.

I’d almost consider playing at Domain Stadium a five-goal advantage for the Eagles and Dockers.

However, it’s a false economy and the problem for the Eagles is getting it right away from home.

Josh Kennedy told 6PR breakfast on Tuesday morning there isn’t a MCG hoodoo but history doesn’t lie.

The Eagles have won just six out of 23 games they’ve played at the home of football since the 2006 flag.

However, it’s their form in the last four or five big games which is more concerning for me.

The 2015 Grand Final. The rematch against Hawthorn in round three last year. The elimination final against the Bulldogs – a big game at home, in their comfort zone.

In those matches they’ve been found really, really wanting like they were against Richmond on the weekend.

Although it was only a home and away game, it was a pretty significant one for the Eagles because it was at the MCG where they have a very lean record, and they failed again.

I won’t stick it to the second-tier players and the youngsters coming through – I think West Coast’s problems are at the top end.

The performances aren’t coming from players like Josh Kennedy, Matt Priddis, Jack Darling and Shannon Hurn – the guys you expect to be the leaders of the club.

And, although he didn’t play on the weekend, you can throw Nic Naitanui into that mix as well because he’s been the same when it really counts – non existent.

LeCras could have been in that mix but he at least he showed something on the weekend and had his best game at the ‘G for some time.

I think this is because he’s playing closer to goal this season.

They completely messed that up [playing him through the midfield].

LeCras is for me a 12-16 possession player who gets most of his touches in the forward 50, hopefully having three or four shots at goal and having a hand in a few others.

You can’t kick goals from the wing.

If the West Coast brains trust sat down and worked out who plays well at home and who plays well away they will be frightened by what they see.

The dimensions of the MCG are clearly killing the leg speed of the Eagles and their players don’t get to as many contests as they seem to do at home.

West Coast just don’t have that same pressure and they’re leaking at the back end which is due to a lack of pressure through the midfield.

One area you can give Kennedy and Darling a tick is their forward pressure and ability to lock the ball in the forward 50.

But once the ball escapes the Eagles have a problem.

If McGovern doesn’t take an intercept mark then they’re in a power of trouble, which was plain to see against Richmond.

Hawthorn pulled the Eagles apart in the 2015 Grand Final and in Round 3 last year with their precision kicking game, so next week will be the real test for West Coast.

The Hawks have been very ordinary this season so it will be interesting to see how that game goes.

I would be throwing the gauntlet down to Lewis Jetta this week.

Give him one more go but say to him: “You gave the Swans nothing on the way out and you’ve given us nothing while you’ve been here. This is your last chance otherwise you’re playing a fair amount of your football at East Perth”.

I can see why they played Jetta last week because they needed his leg speed on the open spaces of the MCG however, he didn’t utilise it anywhere near enough.

But if he can’t cut it the club needs to try and unearth another player like him and they have one performing at East Perth.

Francis Watson has got the pace, can run and carry and most importantly has footy smarts.

I watched him in the preseason against GWS in Narrandera and he impressed.

He’s continued to do so at East Perth this season and I’d be willing to give him a push.

Dom Sheed is a good honest player too and Liam Duggan’s worth another crack.

If they’re playing well in the reserves, they Eagles should give them a run of games in the side to build their confidence instead of bringing them in and out.

Although East Perth is struggling from results perspective (they yet to win a game this season), that’s inconsequential.

Some blokes rise to the occasion while others are really good WAFL footballers and fail to make the leap to AFL level.

However, you don’t know if they can make the leap unless you give them a shot.

With a better class of player around them who’s to say they won’t grow?

Look at Hawthorn. After taking several guns out of their side, all of a sudden Gunston and others have been reduced to rabble.

It begs the question – were they really good players or were they good players because they had better players with them?

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