AFL Roundtable – Will the Melbourne Demons Become the Next Dynasty Team? Is Christian Petracca the No. 1 in the league?


Our AFL experts address some of the burning questions after Melbourne triumphed in the 2021 Grand Final.

Will Melbourne become the next team in the AFL Dynasty?

Rohan Connolly: We seem to be suggesting this with any side of Prime Minister now, probably fair enough to see Geelong, Hawthorn, and Richmond all delivered one in the past 15 years or so. Melbourne’s roster has placed sixth for age this year and seventh for gaming experience, and its Premier 23 had an average age of 24 306 days, the youngest flag team since the Bulldogs in 2016 This might suggest that they have the time to build an era, or that their youth might make things more difficult (like with the Doggies). The talent is there to do it, without a doubt. But in this incredibly balanced competition, you also need a lot of fortune. I would say the odds are always against.

Jake Michaels: I’ll hold the fire here. The Dees have had a sensational season and a brilliant final campaign to break their drought as prime minister, but I’m not ready to call them a future dynasty team. Not yet anyway. We tend to get ahead of ourselves with these type of labels and don’t consider how difficult it is not only to win a flag but to go back year after year. Remember all those crazy people who thought the Giants would win five flags in a row? Where’s that “shake your head” emoji …

Matt Walsh: We’ve seen a few Dynasty teams since the turn of the millennium, but given the equalizers in place with the league, that’s unlikely. It’s also very, very difficult to win a flag – just ask Chris Scott and Geelong! The fact that Richmond was able to win three in four years is remarkable, so if the league moves from one dominant team to another in the span of a year, I’d be really surprised – as promising as the Dees seem.

Jarryd Barça: There is no doubt that it is premature to label Melbourne as the next dynasty team, but the suggestion is clearly valid. They were the most complete team this season, finding ways to win games when they looked dead and buried, as top teams do, and they hardly have any weakness from defense to defense. attack. Eight of Simon Goodwin’s Premiership players aged 21 or under at the weekend, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca just 24 and 25, respectively; yes, these demons are going to be there for a while.

Is Christian Petracca now the best player in the league?

RC: Not on the basis of a performance in the Grand Final (admittedly spectacular), or even two full seasons for that matter. It’s not disrespecting him at all, but people like Dustin Martin, Nat Fyfe, even Marcus Bontempelli have been producing at this level for longer. Another year or two at where it is now and I would compare. That said, even at this point he’s probably at worst in the half-dozen heads. And he is still only 25 years old. Lots of time for him to brand his name as one of the best of all time.

JM: Call it recency bias, but I really think he took the unofficial title of Best AFL Player from Dustin Martin. Not only was his performance in the Grand Final the best we’ve ever seen (yes, Champion Data agrees), his entire year has been sensational, averaging 29 eliminations, six clearances, seven in the inside 50 and more than one goal per game. Martin and Patrick Dangerfield are the only players as destructive as Petracca, but the Melbourne bull is considerably younger than the two and only getting better. He will enter the 2022 season as the competition’s No.1 player. By the end of the year, you won’t be able to discuss it anymore.

MW: He played maybe the best Grand Final performance I have seen. It was the full game, and that’s no disrespect to Dustin Martin, Norm Smith’s three-time medalist. It is explosive, damaging, and hits the dashboard. But like Rohan, part of being labeled “the best” comes down to longevity and consistency. He’s off to a good start.

JB: It’s by no means a knee-jerk reaction to a phenomenal grand finale, an outstanding series of finals, and a consistent season across the board, but I think Petracca is the best player in the game right now. Now, before anything else won’t the world make a mountain out of a molehill, who has had a better career? Dusty. Who has accomplished more? Dusty. But if you picked a team today to play tomorrow, you pick CP first and anyone else would be the wrong decision.

What do the Bulldogs need to do to improve in 2022?

RC: Not much, really. Priority # 1 would probably be at least one more key defender, as the reliance on Alex Keath was heavy, and you have to wonder if people like Zaine Cordy and Ryan Gardner are good enough against an opposition from quality. It’s time for Jordon Sweet to get into the ruck, as valiant as Stefan Martin’s efforts to back Tim English have been. And the advanced setup can improve, and likely will as Jamarra Ugle-Hagan gains more experience and Josh Bruce returns. Even then, the Dogs were the No. 2 ranked team in scoring this year. They’ll give the flag a serious boost in 2022, I think.

JM: Let’s be honest, the Dogs could very easily hold the Premiership Cup right now and have clearly been one of the top two teams throughout the season. Having said that, I don’t think they need to do too much. Luke Beveridge’s side are still relatively young, they will welcome key forward Bruce again and we all know how deep they are in midfield. But to go from an A-level team to an A +, they probably need to find another key defender to help Keath. At times they looked incredibly vulnerable in the backline and compared to, say the Dees, they are sorely lacking.

MW: They have to start playing Ugle-Hagan. We know how deep the midfielder’s bats are – and another year in English will be good, although his good faith as the No.1 ruck is still uncertain – but another striker to support Aaron Naughton (who works very well on the pitch) and Josh Bruce (who will be out for the most part in 2022) would be greatly appreciated. Their defense was just behind the Dees in 2021, so we know this system holds up fairly well against most opponents. Sam Darcy is also an interesting prospect. They have options – which is good.

JB: It’s not completely back to the drawing board, but I think they can do worse than bolster their large stocks of lumber. We know how deep their midfield sticks are – they’re stacked, and I think they have the right mix of dangerous forwards and small / medium defenders, but it’s obvious their key pillars need help. help in the field. A developing Ugle-Hagan, Darcy’s inevitable drafting, and a hopefully early return for Bruce cover the 50 forward, but with Easton Wood – who has been playing for years now taller than him – at 32, the Dogs have to rely on Keath and Cordy have to stay healthy to compete again. Are they calling the direction of Daniel Talia? Is Peter Ladhams the help English needs when Martin hangs them up? These questions need to be asked.

Are we convinced that a grand finale night is the way to go?

RC: I certainly am not. On what basis? Fireworks and dazzling lighting? Unless you are an executive on TV, why would you care about the importance of ratings for a night game? I love the rituals and tradition that surround the day of the Grand Final, I hate the long wait for the game and I don’t like the rush to finish everything once it’s over. I always thought there was something particularly romantic about the last rays of sun setting over the “G” as the winning teams took their lap of honor and we said goodbye to another season. . And given that it seems like every other major sport has their biggest game at night, how about keeping a big point of difference for ours?

JM: I’ve always said I prefer night sport over day sport, and the AFL Grand Final is no exception. But I have to say that waiting for the game to start is a bit boring. Maybe a good start to dusk (I’m thinking of the east coast) is a happy medium.

MW: Nope. Many names on social media hailing it as a success had obvious agendas, and from my perspective – and the many I’ve polled (admittedly, also on social media!) – a 2:30 p.m. or 3:20 p.m. bounce is the path to follow. go. Why copy other codes and ideas now?

JB: Not so much, I prefer soccer during the day. Having to wait hours and hours before the first bounce was absolute torture on the weekend, even if locking out didn’t help. The word from Optus Stadium was that it was a brilliant show, and pairing that with the commercial importance of TV ratings, I think we should be bracing for a twilight start next year. I can handle this. But the game and its players are more important than pre-game or halftime entertainment, so come back at 2:30 p.m., please.

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