Sidelights on football strategy

A post was run before on this but there’ve been developments.  If you’re interested in strategies of organisations, this might be for you.

The major league downunder is the AFL, with 18 teams across the country. The second oldest club, the Cats [Geelong] have been noted since about 2002 for some clever moves and the list manager is one Stephen Wells.

The situation used to be that the same top clubs won the prizes, as they had the money – Carlton were known as bluebloods in those days.

In came communism, with all its ‘all must have prizes’ and first job was to kill off Carlton – they’ve never recovered. In other words, artificially use ‘State’, in this case the AFL, to bring in regulations which prevent a club from competing, then stepping back and letting market forces kill it.  That is – the talent goes now to other clubs less damned.

This is similar to the corporate world where regulations ensure a global worldview is put in place and any firm hoping to survive must pay lip service to it in order to survive.

The communist theory was that depending on where a club finished on the ladder [table], the following draft period, they would have lowest choices if top, the N1 draft pick if bottom.

It didn’t work because the infrastructure also migrated away – talent flight – and so top draft picks lasted a couple of years but did not have the best training and facilities and thus wanted away to a ‘go to’ club.  The Cats have remained high enough on the ladder and have sufficient innovation and brainpower to be an attractive ‘go to’.

Trouble with the Cats is they’re so up and down on any particular weekend, no knowing what they’ll bring.  But overall, they’ll be up there, not unlike Everton.

However, with no genuinely great picks since 2002, a long time ago, the talent has slowly ebbed away.  Premierships in 2007/09/11 were down to the classes of 2002-2004.  it takes a decade.

If the Cats had an average list manager, they’d have ended up 12th to 15th and have got some great picks around 2014 to about 2017.  But they finished too high on the ladder, except for one year, and so the incoming talent has been … well … ordinary.

This year, they’ve gone in with an entirely different approach:

COULD this be Geelong’s 2001 all over again?

The Cats walked into the draft of that season with five picks inside the top 40. They walked out of it with the core that would help build the foundations for their triple-premiership dynasty. Not since then have they held a draft hand as strong as they do now.

This year, they made the second last game and crashed out, that lack of talent in the middle of the age range really showing – the oldsters tiring and the youngsters as well. Plus injuries.  Not the same for other clubs who have gone up and down, not always around 3rd to 5th, as the Cats have perennially been.

There are two trade periods – one is the actual trades where players are free agents or want away and Stephen Wells does deals – that’s October … and the other is the National Draft which is the upcoming young talent – major evening full of glitz.

The wantaway is a player called Kelly who, truth be told, is a WA native – he did his best but his family wanted back home.  Geelong extracted a high price from West Coast and West Coast wanted this player badly.  They were in the playoffs this season, both teams, and the Cats won.

That high price was not the usual buying of mature age players or those crocks with injuries they always promised they were over but actually weren’t.

Nope, this time, GFC wants first round draft picks.  In other words – 2001/02 all over again.

What this means is they are prepared to be down now for maybe 7 or 8 years, slowly building and developing the young, then they’ll reap the reward.  History says they will.  They’ve avoided this now for years, this season’s finals showed that that strategy does not work, the communists have won and the Cats must sink.

Trouble is – market forces do work and support staff will look at things in a couple of years and be offered tantalising contracts elsewhere – that’s how it goes.  So when those young players do develop, who’s to say they won’t want away too?  It’s so easy to lose one’s place at the top.

Personally, I don’t think it will be that bad – I might even buy a membership next year, knowing they can’t win but  even in their bad years, it’s still a ‘go to’ club.


For those who really are interested in the nitty gritty, here are two interviews post trade deal, i.e. current. First is the list manager Wells and the second is the Cats CEO who explains about the missing talent in the mid-age range. It shows the thinking which goes on at the top level.

Possibly the Cook interview is more enlightening on the general thinking, the Wells more on this season:

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