Dockers boss hits back
Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich has hit back at criticism of the team’s game plan, saying the Dockers’ TV ratings have almost doubled since they appointed coach Ross Lyon and finals are still on the radar.
The Dockers have been the target of a barrage of criticism in recent weeks as former stars attacked Lyon’s game plan for being too defensive. Fremantle are the fourth-lowest scoring team of the year and managed just five goals against West Coast on Sunday. Robert Walls, Kevin Bartlett and Mark Ricciuto were among the respected commentators who criticised the club on Monday and fans bombarded websites and talkback radio with complaints.
Yesterday, former Fremantle sponsor and long-time supporter Eddy Natale contacted The West Australian, saying he had stopped attending games this year because he was disillusioned with how the team played.
But Rosich said the team was being judged on poor performances against Hawthorn and West Coast. He said television ratings, membership and crowd figures showed people wanted to watch Fremantle.
“We regularly fill Subiaco Oval. We’ve got close to 43,000 members again this season and our viewer numbers for games on TV have been exceptional to date in 2012,” Rosich told The West Australian.
“Almost double the average number of people have watched our games so far in 2012 to the same point that they did in 2011. Our Friday night games in particular, against St Kilda and Carlton, were the fourth and fifth-highest rating Friday night matches for the year with over 1.3 million people watching both games.
“TV viewing numbers indicates people tune in to watch our games and enjoy watching our games.”
Fremantle have had two Friday night games this season, including the much anticipated clash between Lyon and his former club St Kilda, and clash with flag fancies Carlton in round five.
Their Friday night matches in 2011 were in rounds 20 and 23.
Fremantle’s average home crowd this year is 34,250 compared to 34,393 throughout 2011. There are 2500 tickets available for Saturday’s match against third-placed Adelaide at Patersons Stadium, but Rosich anticipated 33,000 people would attend the game.
The Dockers fell to 10th after their 48-point hiding from West Coast. Depending on other results, they could climb back into eighth spot if they beat the Crows but a loss could also see them slump further down the table.
Their price to make the top eight has blown out with bookmakers in the last fortnight. Player’s odds for a Fremantle finals appearance has drifted from $1.60 to $3.25 after the successive losses.
Having sacked Mark Harvey last season and lured Lyon from St Kilda, the pressure is increasing on the Dockers to play finals.
But Rosich said the team had won five of nine games under Lyon and he was confident it was good enough to play in September.
“Every team in the competition expects and plans to play finals. That’s what our aim is,” Rosich said. “Our aim is to be a team that plays regular finals football. We’re giving ourselves the best chance to do that and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Rosich said Lyon had implemented the game plan he outlined to the club when appointed at the end of last season. So far this season, Fremantle are ranked fifth in defence but 15th in attack.
Rosich said the Dockers were being singled out because of poor efforts in their past two games while other low-scoring games were spared the same scrutiny.
“We see games across the competition that can end up in that environment, as they did with West Coast and Hawthorn a few weeks back and Adelaide and Collingwood on the weekend,” Rosich said.
“Our coaching team will continue to do what they’re doing, which is modify the execution of a game plan and make decisions to ensure we can get to that top four level both offensively and defensively.”