Monday, 23 December 2013

2013 Review - Our Top 4

Our last blog post on each teams performance in 2013... the top 4 ranked teams. And here we are lock-step with the AFL ladder (post home and away rounds) from 4th to 1st.

Rank: 4th (-2)     1302pts (-107)
AFL Ladder: 4th       15 W / 6 L / 1 D

The Swans turned in a less than impressive performance in 2013, with their season on track until late in the year when it petered out. The lost 3 of their last 4 games, limping into the finals only to get first-up smashed by Hawthorn, the defeat Carlton (who a: played their grand final the week before, and b: didn't deserve to be there anyway), and then finally bow out to Fremantle.

In the end, a 4th place finish is possibly about right for Sydney, who still looked likely to win the flag at times during the year. This 4th also comes after a reasonably tough draw, so it shows that Sydney are still real threats.

We did tip them to finish 3rd with 16 wins, so all in all a reasonable season... other than the last 6 week fade.

Where to from here?
In the 14 seasons from the year 2000, Sydney have finished outside the top 8 only three times. Too keep up this sort of run has been a mighty effort of recruiting the best they could, and working to a framework (culture, you might say). Bringing in Tippett at a high price has so far not torn that fabric. Franklin will be an interesting addition, and might strain the fabric further.
Another to 8 finish will be another pass mark, and a top 4 spot should be expected.

Rank: 3rd (+4)     1349 pts (+107)
AFL Ladder: 3rd       16 W / 5 L / 1 D

Carried into the top 4, perhaps boosted along by the famous Fremantle Doctor, the Dockers were one of our big improvers of the year, and making the Grand Final for the first time in their history highlights the value that Ross Lyon brought to the club.
And the Dockers at times played Lyon-style footy... dour and defensive, but also were able to turn on the flair. Has Ross found the right formula for 2014?

The majority of the purple ink rests on the positive side of the Dockers ledger, highlighting the good season they had in meeting and bettering expectations.
Certainly, the improved beyond our pre-season expectation (best outcome was a 4th  placed finish, but 16 wins was the upper limit, we thought), and this was from a moderate draw, neither easy nor hard.

Where to from here?
2014 offers the Dockers a tough draw... top 3 for hardness by ours and The Age's systems. This will test Fremantle, and show if they really are a top flight outfit, or if they will be 2013's edition of Adelaide in 2012?
But the benchmark should be a top 4 finish, and perhaps even another Grand Final... It is, after all, what Ross Lyon was brought in for.

Rank: 2nd (+1)     1355 pts (+24)
AFL Ladder: 2nd       18 W / 4 L

Another season of being written off as too old, too slow, and they still finished 2nd. How do they harness the talent of the old, identify and develop kids from lower draft picks, and every year maintain a tilt at the premiership?
Pre-season we had them looking at a best case scenario of a 2nd place finish with 18 wins, and what do you know, that's exactly the result. Even in that determination we thought they could also 'miss the finals' depending on the
"ability of the older players to continue and the development of the youth.".
So our doubts were misplaced... at least for 2013.

Worth noting too that they did this with a reasonably tough draw (5th toughest) as well. And if you compare the chart above to Collingwood's, you can see that Geelong went very close to performing to expectation in each match (hence the smaller chart bars), particularly in the first 12 or so rounds.

Where to from here?
Geelong will look to be another flag contender in 2014, and the case for them is weakened by those players gone. That said, there are some good kids coming through, so again, it comes down to the youngsters coming through to fill the void of more stars retired or delisted.
Another chance to study list management theory in 2014.

Rank: 1st (-)     1442 pts (-68)
AFL Ladder: 1st       19 W / 3 L

The rankings leaders retained their position all year, but as we noted during the season on several occasions, they did return to the field this season. Admittedly at a season opening 1510 points (100 ahead of the next best Swans) they were streets ahead, but over the year they dropped off to be at one stage only 15 points from relinquishing top spot.

And it was not because of the Hawks losing games that they lost rankings points, but more that they did no live up the expectation of the rank they had. This has driven all the brown marks on the bottom (sorry) of the chart.

In finishing the season at 19 and 3 (our best case scenario) it is fair to say the Hawks still had a great year. The Premiership of 2013 would make up for missing the previous seasons flag when they were better ranked and further ahead of the pack.

Where to from here?
Another year at the top, and the expectations can only be to stay there. 2014 should bring a tougher challenge, as the AFL draw has been attuned to ensure they play a tough schedule.
That said, 2013 was also a tough one for the Hawks, and it did not stop them.

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