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New year, new hopes: 2021 aspirations for every club

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Everyone wants a flag. But depending on what team you support, that might just be out of the question. So what do you hope for whether the cup is out of arm’s reach or not?

Adelaide

The Crows are coming off the back off a horror season, so naturally they have a lot to hope for this year. If you had to pick from everything available to you at the start of a rebuild, laying the foundations for a place where players and staff alike mesh well and actually want to be there, plus establishing some sort of team ethos would be up there. This includes reigning in any off-field controversies, as we’ve seen how that has unfolded in the past.

Players:
At a player level, the list is swimming with fresh names and young talent – the likes of Sholl, McAdam, Schoenberg, Hamill, Himmelberg, McPherson and Keays for example. Developing these players to a point where there aren’t going to be gaping holes when some of the veterans retire is a big desirable.

The way they go about it:
More honourable losses – no one is expecting them to suddenly do great things, but not getting belted week in, week out and creating a recognisable game plan will be positives in addition to seeing glimpses of the future through the aforementioned new picks and young talent.

Stat spotlight:
More marks inside 50 – obviously the Crows weren’t backed up by fantastic stats across the board last season, but let’s cherry pick this one for the wish list. This stands out because it would be nice to uphold more opportunity to score with less ground-level pressure, especially given that they were ranked 18th for this in 2020.

Bonus: Not collecting another wooden spoon.

Brisbane

The Lions 2020 season was a far cry from what we’ve seen pre-2019, and after finishing 2nd on the ladder for 2 years in a row there would be a sense of optimism around the place despite repeated finals disappointment.

Players:
If we shine a light on particular players, it’s a no-brainer that keeping Joe Daniher fit is right up there in the hopes of Brisbane fans. We know what he’s capable of when fit, so seeing this more consistently would be a Godsend for the team – likewise, Nakia Cockatoo’s explosive versatility has mostly been wasted on the sidelines since he debuted in 2013, so we can add him to the players that have fans crossing their fingers this year.

How they go about:
Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy… the Lions made it a lot harder for themselves last year with their tendency to spray shots on goal. This saw them with the most behinds and worst set shot accuracy out of everyone for the year. That makes it pretty easy to say this is a key area to be hopeful for in 2021.

Stat spotlight: Their slow, disciplined style of play had them ranked 18th in disposals per game. Could a boost in that area make a positive difference?

Bonus: Continue their clanger record (2nd best) from 2020. This was somewhat of a concessional stat given their inaccuracy in front of goals last year, but could become a nice addition if they can kick well between both the goal posts and each other.

Carlton

You never know what you’re going to get with the Blues, so I guess consistency would be an ideal pick when it comes to 2021 deliverables. Carlton showed at times that they could really push the better teams, so there’s no reason why they can’t continue to do that this year.

Players:
Curbing Curnow’s knee issues – it’s been a frustrating wait to have Charlie back on the park, so getting him back to where he was would be a high hope for Blues fans, whose mouths would be watering at the return of a McKay, McGovern and Curnow combination. Oh, and Cripps re-signing – need we say more?

The way they go about it:
Not conceding strings of goals in quick succession. This put them in a spot of bother in the blink of an eye on a number of occasions in 2020, and was frustrating for everyone to watch.

Stat spotlight:
Uncontested possessions – the Blues ranked 18th in this area in 2021, so being able to control the ball more would be a huge positive for them.

Bonus: Playing 4 quarters – not letting teams get up by seemingly insurmountable margin only to chip themselves back into the game.

 

 

Collingwood

Ahhhh, the Pies. It’s hard to know where to start here, after the disastrous off-season they’ve seen so far which has seemingly eclipsed the nightmare that was the semi-final shellacking handed to them by Geelong. There’s no doubt that the whole trade period debacle left questions around the trust in the playing group, so re-establishing that would be high on the list of positive outcomes behind closed doors in a season that should also aim to be an adequate send off for Eddie.

Players:
Jordan de Goey has inked a new deal, so showing he’s worth the pennies would be welcome for the black and white army. Additionally, Isaac Quaynor continuing to blister through half-back, something he wasted no time doing before that ugly shin incident last year, would be ideal.

The way they go about it:
Better conversion from inside 50s – is there anything more annoying than fruitless entries? This could also be intertwined with improved delivery too, and would balance out the ground nicely given their elite defence (who conceded the least inside 50s all year).

Stat spotlight:
Hitouts to advantage – obviously Grundy doesn’t have trouble getting the ball, in fact – the stats tell us otherwise. But it’s an improvement to what they do with them that would be ideal this season.

Bonus: Steele Sidebottom to return with vigour.

Essendon

If you’re a Bombers fan, you might be used to having futile hopes for a new season by now. It seems like Essendon has almost fallen off the radar, to the point where everyone just pushes their expectations for a return to prominence further down the track. But there are always steps within reach, right?

Players:
New recruits having an immediate impact – losing Daniher, Saad and Fantasia was never going to be ideal. But this could be a big opportunity for the new faces to get in there (Jye Caldwell, Peter Wright and Nick Hind) while working with the new kids on the block in Archie Perkins, Nic Cox and Zach Reid to really make a splash and bring some positivity. Also, when Tippa is firing, the Bombers are firing – a return to form for him would be very nice for fans.

The way they go about it:
Simple: develop an actual recognisable game plan – this seems to be a source of frustration for a lot of fans.

Stat spotlight:
Pinch more contested marks – they can only improve on their 2020 efforts which saw them ranked dead last in this area.

Bonus: Peter Wright to have a 40 plus goal year.

Fremantle

Finishing 12th is nothing to write home about, but there were still some positives from last season with Justin Longmuir at the helm, keeping in mind they had the youngest list.

Players:
It goes without saying that every team will be hoping for less injuries, but it holds a bit of weight when you’ve had a significant chunk of your best 22 wiped out, especially at the same time. Being dealt a nicer casualty hand will be welcomed for the Dockers in 2021. Also, seeing Griffin Logue get up and about – he was in career best form before injury side-lined him across 2019 and 2020. Dockers fans would love to see him fit and giving a helping hand to a firing Luke Ryan to give their already superior backline another boost.

The way they go about it:
The Dockers won 5 of their last 8 games last year. If you’re a Freo fan, you’re going to want to see them kick into gear earlier in the season so that late results serve as a retainer, rather than a boost.

Stat spotlight:
Balancing their offence with their excellent existing defence would be a great 2021 outcome. Last year, they ranked 17th on inside 50s per game and 16th for goals, stacking unnecessary pressure on their backmen.

Bonus: Caleb Serong was superb in his first year, so avoiding those second-year blues and continuing his projectile will be much appreciated if you’re part of the purple army.

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