Over the next few weeks Dyson Baker will take a look at how every club has fared this year, exactly where every club is at in terms of development and of course how far away each club is from Premiership success. Today, he looks at Carlton…
Currently: 3rd, 10 wins, 3 losses & 1 draw, 138.1%
At the beginning of season 2011, Carlton were built up as a side that once again would be making up the numbers come September. Yet jump ahead to July and the Blues must have missed the memo, with only 3 losses to their name.
For the third year in succession, the Blues took on Richmond in round 1 and once again inflicted a big loss on the Tigers. In round 2 they became the Gold Coast Suns first opponents, taking the new boys to the sword with an 120 point thumping. In their next two outings, Collingwood gave Carlton their first loss for the year followed by a tightly contested draw with Essendon. A reasonably solid start to the year for the Blues after the first month, however then they managed to hit fine form, winning 7 out of their next 8 games, only going down to Geelong in round 9 by two points.
Big wins in the next month over Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney (for the first time in 21 years at the SCG) all helped to boost the Blues position on the League ladder, yet after consolidating their position, the loss last weekend to West Coast at Paterson’s Stadium would have come as a shock to many, with the Blues going down by 36 points. They immediately bounced back though and Richmond were once again on the bank end of a big defeat at the hands of the Blues, going down by 103 points as they ran wild in the second half, kicking 17 goals with their midfield looking as controlling as ever.
Brett Ratten must have been pleased watching Kruezer palm down to Judd and Jamieson, as all three players have hit straps in the past month of football. Carlton have set themselves up to charge home at a Top 4 birth, with 5 of their last 8 games being against sides currently outside of the Top 8. They also only travel outside Victoria once more for the season, in round 21 when they take on Fremantle at Patersons Stadium. A Bye in round 23 will prove to be a handy break before their final home and away game against St Kilda.
Prediction: 4th, 17 wins, 4 losses & 1 draw, 129.8%
Going Forward: Expect to see the Blues go deep into September in 2011. They have managed Elimination Final births in their last three seasons and this year is the one for them to take the next step. They will secure a double chance, most likely taking on Geelong… If they lose they secure a home final, possibly against one of the interstate sides (Fremantle/Sydney Swans) giving them the chance to push for a Preliminary Final and from there, anything can happen in the 2 most important games of the year.
Looking ahead to next year, the Blues midfield is set in stone and with Kruezer back, they boast one of the best Ruck combinations in the competition. In addition to this, the rest of the centre line accompanies just as well. Judd is once again in Brownlow form and you can expect him to lead from the front for years to come.
The Forward line was a big talking point over the summer, yet Carlton have proven that even without a ‘Key’ Forward, they can still kick winning scores. Despite this, they have found a key target in Walker, who has many years up forward to become the next big thing in the League.
Backline deficiencies haven’t become an issue for the Blues, although it seems to be more of a management and match up issue rather than the lack of playing stocks to tackle opposition Forwards. Brett Ratten needs to make the most of their run off the Half-back line which has been crucial for success over the last few seasons. Continuing to pick up running types who can play that quarter back role will ensure their game style, which for all football fans is exciting, is here to stay.
Premiership Window: 2010-2015
Next up… Collingwood!