Finals still on radar: Pavlich
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich is confident the club’s flagging midfield stocks can be rebuilt before the end of the season with a view to still having an impact during this year’s finals series.
And the veteran has backed coach Ross Lyon’s game plan, blaming “the attitude and the intensity of our players” for the team’s horror fortnight against Hawthorn and West Coast.
Fremantle has battled in the midfield in recent weeks, with young star Nat Fyfe injured and clearance specialists David Mundy and Michael Barlow below their best following interrupted pre-seasons.
After last Sunday’s embarrassing loss to West Coast, Lyon said he needed to “build a midfield that competes against class”, promising changes ahead of Saturday’s clash with Adelaide at Patersons Stadium.
Pavlich said the club could get its midfield up to speed this season, with finals still “absolutely” on the radar for the 5-4 team.
“By the end of the season we feel as though we’ll have a group of midfielders who are very capable,” Pavlich said on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a couple of guys who are injured at the moment who feature quite prominently in our midfield group and we’ve got a couple of guys who are coming back and are a little bit under.
“We need to clearly work on some of the stoppage structures … but we know that the group of players in there can get the job done for us.
“We just need to tweak a couple of things and the attitude and the intensity needs to be spot-on all the time.”
Fremantle has managed just 14 goals in the last fortnight, including only five against West Coast, promoting heavy criticism of Lyon’s game plan this week.
However, Pavlich backed his coach’s methods, and said the team could improve quickly after a thorough review of Sunday’s 48-point loss.
“One week or one-and-a-half poor games of football doesn’t make a season,” he said.
“Let’s understand where we sit in the scheme of things and review it. Clearly we’ve got a long way to go, but at 5-4 we’re pretty confident that our best gives us a great opportunity to continue on the path that we’re on.
“It’s actually really refreshing to watch the game and review and challenge each other about the way we’re playing. I’m really confident that the group is [heading] in the right direction.”
After a planned move back into attack, Pavlich has kicked 11 goals in nine games this season and continues to be called on for bursts in the midfield, averaging 18 disposals.
The 30-year-old said he didn’t expect to spend more time on the ball in the coming weeks, adding the club needed to invest time in its “class young players”.
“We have that on our list, we just need to continue to back them in and give them confidence,” he said.
“Clearly I would have rather hit the scoreboard more than I have in the first nine weeks, but I have been playing a variety of roles.
“In general my performance has been okay but I clearly put my hand up to say I need to improve and lead the team better.
“I think the leadership group has taken a fair bit of responsibility over the past couple of weeks, as Ross has, and we move forward with confidence knowing our best is yet to come.”