2020 has been a tough year. Let us take a look at the list, where they are at, what they have produced in 2020, and what we can expect in season 2021.
I want to take a look at the players first, and leave the evaluation of the coach to last. Obviously he has a huge impact on the players, and as a playing coach, there are questions about his ability to coach, and also play. Has he been trying to do too much?
Michael McCormack – elevated to vice-captain last year. A real ‘smokey’ from the bush. Appears to lack much in the way of natural ability, but is a great advocate of team spirit. Many struggle to understand why he is even in the team, but he does bring a folksy type of earnestness, with an amateurish vaudevillian ‘shtick’ to the post-match press conferences. Will probably stay, and play in the back pocket. A leader of sorts – of a small group of players who are somewhat lost in the ‘big smoke’.
Josh Frydenberg – a flashy forward type, he started the season strongly, very confident, much hype about being ‘back in black’. Has a tendency to ‘mouth off’ early, and often, in games, and rue his words later. Had a couple of real shockers during the season, especially when he came up against Dan Andrews. Andrews seemed to spook him, causing some unnecessary own-goals. Josh follows the game plan to the letter; which can cause a lack of creativity. Has leadership aspirations.
Mathias Cormann – has retired from the game, although he is angling for a spot on the Commission. Seems to have enthusiastic backing from the team, from the coach down, but not a fan favourite. Led the backs; a dour, miserable type. Not able to accommodate changes in the game plan. Particularly evasive on the need to adapt to renewable aspects of defence. Stolid defender of the indefensible.
Peter Dutton – the enforcer of the team. A towering, cadaverous type. Learnt most of his moves in the Queensland Police Force, so no stranger to questionable tactics. Rumoured to still harbour leadership aspirations, after unsuccessful tilt last year. Also known as a keen sledger, especially if his opponents wear green jumpers. Still able to unsettle the opposition. Dutton will continue to project menace.
Christian Porter – something of a strategist, known to play and to work hard. Can be a force when the going is good, but retreats when under attack. Something of a showy front runner. Treads a fine line with the umpires. He knows the rules, and he often plays outside the spirit of the game. Once touted for a future leadership role, but off-field issues have set his ambitions back. Expect a red-hot pre-season next year.
Greg Hunt – small, rover type, light and quick on his feet. Quick to pile in on opponents, if someone else starts it. Involved in an unseemly mass attack on Dan Andrews, when he was down, earlier in the season. Known to go where he is sent, no real commitment to a particular position. Swapped his style of play in climate arena, when told to. Apparently an expert in mitigation, prior to being elevated to the Firsts.
Angus Taylor – a likely looking type, but given to unforced errors. Known to be extremely selfish around goals, and to play for his position, rather than the team. Came in as an early round pick, with a decorated early career, but he has consistently misfired in the big league. Some think that he had it too easy, too early, and that he will improve when he acclimatises to the level of the competition. He seems to lack basic judgement, however. Does not read the ball well, and the fans have given up on him.
Alan Tudge – an unassuming half-back flanker type, he has shown a real desire for the contest, but an unsettling level of aggression towards opponents. This can spill over to members of the crowd, and his outbursts of uncontrolled aggression have him in the umpires’ sights. He causes damage wherever he goes, and the coach must be careful where he plays him. Known to have off-field issues, but not a contender for the leadership group, so not crucial.
Scott Morrison – Captain-Coach, centre half-forward. Looks more like a rugby player, but certainly an adaptable type. Many consider him to be an all-rounder, someone in the mould of a Ted Whitten, or a Ron Barassi. Unlike those legends of the game, however, he seems to have risen to leadership with not much to show us in the way of skills, strategy, or tactical nous. He has, however, been a tremendous survivor.
Traded out by several other teams previously, he landed with Team Australia, just as it began to disintegrate. He was a member of the leadership group under Captains Abbott and Turnbull, and was lucky to be ‘last man standing’ when the dust settled. He led the team into 2019, and won the flag, against all expectations.
Morrison is religious, and attributes the win to a miracle. Most rational judges reckon it was lucky, and that the other team failed to show up on Grand Final day. Whatever the reason, Morrison’s team won, and he has been hailed as a genius ever since.
Anyway, he plays all over the ground, showing no particular level of skill, but a determination to dominate every aspect of every game. He is intensely tribal, and you know that he brings full commitment to winning. He is known for his powers of evasion, and his slipperiness in a tackle. He seems to be able to change tactics at a moment’s notice, and to change the game plan to suit the mood of the day. He has been accused of debasing the game, and lowering standards.
At the moment he is unchallenged, however, because the team continues to win. He seems to be able to hang on, even when he personally puts in a shocker. He and his team have been accused of flouting the rules openly, but he has managed to evade being brought to account.
In today’s winner-take-all environment, he is leading a team of poorly performed players, almost single handedly, to what looks like another flag. The commentariat is asleep, and he will continue to dominate the game until the fans rise up, and demand change.
Wouldn’t life be marvellous, if it was as simple as a footy game? Sadly, it is not.