The long wait for football in 2018 is nearly over, with a just few weeks between us and the new AFL Season. What better time to cast our eye over the competing clubs, do our best Nostradamus impersonation and have a crack at guessing what the new season holds in store.
We continue our prognosticating with a look at what we think lies in store for Carlton.
Why can they improve?
With a promising young list developing at Princes Park, they would have benefited greatly from another pre-season developing together and further bedding down the structures and strategy of the Brendon Bolton game plan. Even the most pessimistic fan has to be excited by the prospect of what Charlie Curnow, Jack Silvagni, Zac Fisher and Sam Petrevski-Seton could deliver in the years to come.
Curnow’s efforts as a young forward have drawn well deserved praise. In 2017 he averaged 14.1 disposals, 5.7 marks and 2.9 tackles, kicked 20 goals and had 12 goal assists. Not surprising then that some in the media have suggested he could become the best player in the competition.
They would also be buoyed by the fact that despite finishing at the lower end of the table, they displayed great competiveness. The fine margins between success and failure evident in the fact that the Blues led in the last quarter in half their losses. It is the kind of stat that suggests that a sharp turn around could be achieved
Why could they go stay where they are?
Losing Bryce Gibbs, to Adelaide, and Sam Docherty, to injury, leave big gaps for the Blues to fill. With Docherty on the park, with Weitering, Marchbank and Jones, the defence was beginning to develop into an elite group. With Docherty central to most of the Blues defensive plans, without him the rest of the group might not continue their sharp improvement. If their defence doesn’t stand up, their attack – the worst in the competition the last two years, doesn’t really instil much fear in their opponents.
Why could they go backwards?
Having finished 16th in 2017, it will take some doing to go backwards in 2018 but is possible if they are not careful. Having made another drastic overhaul of their playing list over the off season, will this affect the cohesion amongst the playing group.
Liam Jones was one of the surprise breakout stars of 2017 but what if his form was a mirage? With Docherty out this year, where would this leave the Carlton backline already under immense pressure given the impotent attack at the other end of the ground
Player to watch
With a record five Rising Star nominations in 2017, Princes Park is far from bereft of young talent. Despite this, anytime a club has early access to the draft there are eager eyes on the progress of the player selected. With the number 3 pick in the draft, Carlton chose Paddy Dow and, whilst not with the same fervour as Blues fans, we will be eager to see how the youngster finds his way at the elite level.
Given the continually improvement of the team, it is hard to see any real danger on Brendon Bolton. That said Carlton and its fans aren’t used to the kind of premiership drought that they are currently experiencing and are notoriously ruthless with their coaches, so Bolton would be in no doubt that results need to continue to improve or the heat on him will.
While improvement is still expected from the young Blues, it is hard to see them becoming a finals contender just yet. Likely to push out of the bottom four, but it wouldn’t take an awful lot to go wrong to find themselves there again at seasons end.
Their year in a sentence?
Blues future is bright but relevance remains a year or two away.
Click the link below to tune into the Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav podcast to hear the boys discuss Carlton’s hopes in 2018, The Ashes, BBL and a whole lot more.
The Pinch Hitters your dose of sporting news and views – hard and fast.