13 June 2011
The 2011 AFL season is now at its half way point and instead of analysing what has happened so far, let's cast our eye to the future. Five years into the future in fact.
AFL is clearly cyclical, clubs rise and fall over the years. The inclusion of each team's final ladder result over five year periods is testament to the fact that half a decade is a long time.
By 2015 we will see a battle of the Coasts, spiced up by some resurgent Victorian powerhouses. Players will come and go, stars will rise and teams will crumble.
Here are predictions for how the AFL landscape might feel, club by club.
Statistics note - No of top eight finishes - premierships - 1995 result - 2000 result - 2005 result - 2010 result - 2015 result.
Adelaide: - 10 - 2 - 11th - 11th - 1st - 11th
Adelaide has proven to be a reasonably successful club since its inception, but has been starved over the past decade of any real triumphs. A minor premiership in 2005 amounted to nothing and since then capitulation in the finals have cruelled their seasons. Expect a list clear-out and a slow build until the Crows become contenders in 2015.
Key predictions: Still unable to get the Crows playing to potential, the club will end Neil Craig's tenure and successfully integrate club legend Mark Ricciuto into head coaching. Prolonged issues over footy being played on Adelaide Oval, which is scheduled to begin in 2014.
Brisbane: - 10 - 3 - 8th - 6th - 11th - 13th
The Lions had a very special run – a once in a generation golden streak when they won three grand finals in the early 2000s. There is nothing to suggest that will happen again soon. The likes of Rockliff, Redden, Polkinghorne will need to turn themselves into a “fab four” of sorts under the leadership of Daniel Rich. The squad will be good and matches at the Gabba will once again become a tough ground for away teams to win on, but the Lions won't have the talented roster to make any impact in September. Jonathon Brown will be retired but Mitch Clark will be peaking.
Key predictions: Michael Voss unable to achieve any mid-term success with the club and won't have his contract renewed beyond 2013. Lions to play the poor cousin role to a surging Suns outfit, but get some revenge by signing some of their young guns when Brown retires and releases a whack of cash in the salary cap.
Carlton: - 7 - 1 - 1st (P) - 2nd - 16th - 8th
After grabbing a flag in 1995, the Blues have done very little since. After years in the darkness that will soon change. The Blues will play deep into September in 2012/13 and be consistent top four contenders over the period. Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs will be 200 game players, and with Matthew Kreuzer a dominant ruckman, they will provide the perfect midfield platform to lift Carlton to new heights.
Key predictions: Will be on the hunt for a full forward and will make aggressive moves to sign Lance Franklin at the end of 2013, who'll be keen for a change of scenery. Brett Ratten to ride out all storms and stay on as an experienced and successful coach.
Collingwood: - 7 - 1 -10th - 15th - 15th - 1st (P)
Collingwood with the youthful squad it has should become the next Geelong, a side with prolonged success over half a decade. The next few years should be fruitful, but by 2015 there will be immense pressure on Nathan Buckley to turn around a side on the slide; a milder version of what Michael Voss is experiencing now. Mick Malthouse will be gone, and with him, the club's best recruiting and fitness staff. But, there will be plenty of cash in the clubs vault and their foray into new technology will continue to reap terrific results - forcing the AFL to put a cap on their spending.
Key predictions: Scott Pendlebury to be skipper, with Nick Maxwell succumbing to a premature retirement through mixed seasons spoiled by injury. Steele Sidebottom in the elite midfield ranks. Eddie McGuire will have turned to politics and facing scrutiny over a conflict of interest with running the Magpies.
Essendon: - 10 - 1 - 4th - 1st (P) - 13th - 14th
The Bombers are well and truly due for some big results and, in the next couple of years, their premiership window will begin to open. Expect Essendon to have results that mirror Hawthorn's rise in 2008, perhaps a premature flag, which will present challenges for James Hird as he tries to keep the Bombers up in the air.
Key predictions: The 100th anniversary Anzac Day match will be the biggest ever – held in Turkey between two strong sides. Expect at least one premiership trophy in the cabinet and a Brownlow for Jobe Watson.
Fremantle: - 3 - 0 - 13th - 12th - 10th - 6th
No Pavlich and Sandilands in 2015 will expose Fremantle. Though their squad will be considerably more mature by then, the loss of those two will leave major gaps and be the difference between real success and mediocrity. Expect Fremantle to be major players in trade weeks around 2013-14 as they attempt to top up on key position players. Johnathon Griffin could become a star in the ruck.
Key predictions: 20 years into their life in the AFL, still no premiership for Freo. Will investigate setting up a permanent training base in Melbourne to help prepare for away games. Will stick with their awful theme song, we may not hear it too often.
Geelong: - 10 - 2 - 2nd (RU) - 5th - 6th - 2nd
The Cats have been so good for so long – history shows this is unstainable and the run at Kardinia Park will end. A lot of the squad will age around the same time and once they get past their prime, the Cats will slip. Hard bodies mean they'll stay tough to beat at home, but will lose the run to stick with the top sides by 2015.
Key predictions: Mass exodus from Geelong as the glory days end. It will be a stubborn fall though, and Chris Scott will have the tactical nous to keep the Cats from the doldrums.
Gold Coast: NA
Expect the talk in 2015 to be why the Suns haven't won a premiership yet. There are such high expectations on this side to be a booming squad of champions in the coming years. It just won't happen. Certainly, they will become a side to be reckoned with by 2013 and be pushing for top four finishes. But the squad will fracture, hampered by players demanding top salaries as they mature and the desire on their behalf to move back to Victoria and indulge in a lifestyle that revolves around football and family. The AFL's cash drip feed will continue to keep the Suns financially viable, but by 2015 there will be a solid supporter base that matches that of the Lions.
Key predictions: Speculation Gary Ablett wants to end his career back at Geelong. Karmichael Hunt will stick it out in AFL and, despite hurdles, will be nearly a 100 game player.
Expectations will be high for the Giants following the reasonable progress made by the Suns in 2011. GWS recruiting won't be as strong as the Suns, and a less attractive move to Sydney for established players will see the Giants struggle for three years. They will make the finals for first time in 2015 with Tom Scully as skipper and Dylan Shiel a leader in the side's core. Premiership still a way off as the side lingers in the shadow of a more successful Swans outfit.
Key predictions: Kevin Sheedy won't last as head coach – forced out by a more contemporary approach on offer from Stephen Silvagni, or Mark Williams. Israel Folau grows impatient with the game despite surprising critics early. The Suns emerge as potential suitors as Folau eyes a move back to Queensland, they can't afford him and instead there will be an amicable switch back to the NRL.
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The Colonel, Bathurst, NSW (14 June 2011 10:33AM) wrote:
Excellent prediction wrap. Great read - keep up the great work !!