Lyon sharpens the axe
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says the midfield is his team’s Achilles heel after West Coast “obliterated” his onballers in Sunday’s one-sided Derby at Patersons Stadium.
In a frank post-match assessment following Fremantle’s lowest score at home, Lyon acknowledged he had team balance issues to address and took responsibility for the side’s method in Sunday’s 48-point loss.
He said the decision to play an extra ruckman and tall defender had made the team “cumbersome”, and said Fremantle had a lot of work to do this season before it could compete with the competition’s best.
The coach indicated he would make tough selection decisions and “filter out” players who weren’t willing to work at the standard required to improve.
“From here we’ll push forward and try to expose our youth,” Lyon said on Sunday night.
“Those players that want to be a part of the solution and work really hard we’ll support, and try and filter out those that don’t want to work to the standard that we need.
“As a coaching group we clearly need to improve as well … I take responsibility for the method with the coaching panel.”
Fremantle lost the inside 50s on Sunday 64-30, going into attack just seven times in the second half.
The Eagles racked up 108 more uncontested possessions than their opponents, with Fremantle runners Stephen Hill (11 disposals), Tendai Mzungu (nine) and Clancee Pearce (eight) all restricted.
Ross Glendinning medallist Matt Rosa, who had 43 disposals and 19 handball receives for the Eagles, typified the difference in the midfield.
“We couldn’t get enough uncontested spreading possession or any quality use, and I thought we just quick-kicked it a lot and put it on our forwards’ heads,” Lyon said.
“They spread the ball really quickly and got off the chain with their midfield spread and gave quality delivery to their forwards. I thought our backs hung on well considering.
“We need to build a midfield that competes against class and I thought they took our midfield to the cleaners.”
Lyon, who said he had been attuned to Fremantle’s midfield vulnerability since the pre-season, selected two genuine ruckmen for the first time this year but substituted Jon Griffin out of the match two minutes into the third quarter.
He described young tall Zac Clarke as a “legitimate forward” and said he felt for Griffin, who had only previously been selected when Aaron Sandilands is unavailable.
“We saw the game slipping, so we subbed [Griffin],” Lyon said. “We feel for the individual, but the team’s needs come first.
“We thought more run, more spread. It’s something that didn’t seem to work today, the three legitimate tall defenders and the two ruckmen. I thought it made us cumbersome.
“They wouldn’t have changed the result, but it certainly put some running and spread pressure on the team.”
Lyon indicated that young midfield recruits Tom Sheridan and Hayden Crozier, who were selected with picks 16 and 20 at the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, would be considered for next Saturday’s clash with Adelaide at Patersons Stadium.
He said the midfield needed more “run and skill”.
“We need to play people that can attack the ball and play their part,” he said. “A few more results like this, there’s going to have to be changes and we’re going to have to grow the future talent, because we’re just a little bit short of where we want to be at the minute.
“I’m not going to cruel people who are giving great effort and throw the baby out with the bathwater.
“My job is to lead this football club and at the minute we’re not where we want to be, but I’m pretty confident we can improve and we’ll be judged in time.”